Dancer Shaelynn Estrada in Swan Song

VIFF Unveils First Titles Including Swan Song and Mr. Dressup

Fest announces eight Special Presentations titles

3 mins read

Two documentaries featuring Canadian icons lead the first titles announced for the 2023 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Swan Song, directed by Chelsea McMullan, and Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe, directed by Robert McCallum, will make their West Coast debuts at the festival. The former follows celebrated ballerina Karen Kain as she bids adieu to a long career with the National Ballet of Canada by directing a new take on Swan Lake. The latter profiles the long-running CBC children’s series Mr. Dressup in which Ernie Coombs entertained and educated generations of young Canadians. Both films have their world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival before heading to VIFF. (Read more about them in our upcoming issue.)

Other Special Presentations include Atom Egoyan’s drama Seven Veils. The film is a backstage drama inspired by Egoyan’s work on the opera Salome. The announcement marks a double bill for Toronto’s Four Seasons Theatre, which also takes the spotlight in Swan Song. The line-up also includes a live performance of Sam Greene’s unique immersive documentary/performance piece 32 Sounds. Joining the doc in the live slate is the A.I. odyssey Machine Folklore.

“We’re excited to include tributes to two Canadian icons — Mr. Dressup and Karen Kain — along with the latest by a legendary homegrown filmmaker — Atom Egoyan — in this year’s Special Presentations program,” says Curtis Woloschuk, Director of Programming, in a statement from VIFF. “And while these three films hinge on the power of performance, other marquee attractions at this year’s festival offer narratives that dramatically shift perspective, immerse us in moral entanglements, and remind us of the power of simple acts of kindness.”


The first titles announced for VIFF are:

Anatomy of a Fall dir. Justine Triet (France)

La Chimera dir. Alice Rohrwacher (Italy/France/Switzerland)

Last Summer dir. Catherine Breillat (France)

Monster dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan)

Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe dir. Robert McCallum (Canada)

The Old Oak dir. Ken Loach (UK)

Seven Veils dir. Atom Egoyan (Canada)

Swan Song dir. Chelsea McMullan (Canada)


32 Sounds | Thursday, Oct. 5, 7pm

Machine Folklore | Sunday, Oct. 1, 7pm & 9pm


VIFF runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 8.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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