While it may never reach the number of films shown at the annual Queer Film Festival, the LGBTQ offerings at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) grows each year. Here is our gay guide to this year’s VIFF.
From a lesbian love story to transgender country/electro-pop artist Rae Spoon’s exploration of her rural Alberta roots, this year’s VIFF helps continue its long tradition of exploring our pink stories on the silver screen.
FEATURE FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES:
Blue Is the Warmest Colour
(La Vie d’Adèle Chapitre 1 et 2)
Abdellatif Kechiche (France, 179 min)
A tour de force of unbridled intimacy and graphic sexuality, Abdellatif Kechiche’s acclaimed drama features superb performances from Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos as young women finding their love for each other. Winner of a 2013 Palme d’Or.
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia
Nicholas Wrathall (USA, 89 min)
Eternally opinionated, brilliantly funny and terminally political, Gore Vidal—novelist, essayist, polemicist, politician, pundit, screenwriter—was the true protean man. Using fascinating and apt recent and legendary archival footage, and interviews—including an exclusive with a fierce and fearless Vidal as he neared the end of his life—Nicholas Wrathall gives the man his due.
A Gun in Each Hand (Una pistola en cada mano)
Cesc Gay (Spain, 97 min)
Cesc Gay directs an all-star Spanish-language cast in this formidably acted, quietly acerbic comedy about the male ego brought low.
Jan Hřebejk (Czech Republic/Slovakia, 92 min)
When an unwelcome guest crashes a wedding, his presence casts a pall over the fairytale occasion. Capping the trilogy that includes VIFF favourites Kawasaki’s Rose and Innocence, Jan Hřebejk crafts a compelling reminder of Faulkner’s assertion, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Lawrence & Holloman
Matthew Kowalchuk (Canada, 88 min)
Having just chickened out of a suicide attempt, malcontent Holloman turns his attention to orchestrating the ruin of Lawrence, a man of few morals and no brains. Matthew Kowalchuk’s film—adapted from Morris Panych’s play—works on many levels: as wacky sketch comedy, as absurdist fable and, most pungently, as a satire on the modern rat race.
Peter Sehr, Marie Noëlle (Germany/Austria, 130 min)
Gorgeously designed and photographed, Peter Sehr and Marie Noëlle’s epic life of “Mad King” Ludwig of Bavaria (Sabin Tambrea) paints a humanizing picture of a young monarch brought low by his belief that culture—exemplified by the music of Richard Wagner—could change society for the better.
My Prairie Home
Chelsea McMullan (Canada, 77 min)
A true Canadian iconoclast, acclaimed transgender country/electro-pop artist Rae Spoon revisits stretches of rural Alberta and confronts memories of growing up queer in an abusive, evangelical household. Lyrical and alluring, Chelsea McMullan’s docu-musical questions our traditional definitions of “home” and celebrates the places in between, be they in music, geography or gender.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
Maxim Pozdorovkin, Mike Lerner (Russia/UK, 90 min)
The saga of Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot is well-known by now, but the lives of the three brave young women beneath the balaclavas much less so. Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin change that with this smart and exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the group.
Sarah Prefers To Run (Sarah préfère la course)
Chloé Robichaud (Canada, 92 min)
Bursting out of the starting blocks, Chloé Robichaud’s debut feature is a breathless account of a fiercely driven runner (Sophie Desmarais) who’s tripped up while navigating a romantic obstacle course. As the athletically gifted, socially stunted Sarah, Desmarais impresses with displays of physical prowess offset by the slightest, most revealing gestures.
The Spider’s Lair (Babagwa)
Jason Paul Laxamana (Philippines, 101 min)
Cat-and-mouse games get a turtle-and-monkey makeover in Jason Laxamana’s tale of 21st-century grifters. Bam Bonifacio is a dream hunk on a dating site, adept at persuading his admirers to part with cash. Behind ‘Bam’ is Greg, less impressive and much more fallible.
The Story of My Death (Historia de la meva mort)
Albert Serra (Spain, France, Romania, 148 min)
Albert Serra’s (Honor de Cavelleria) dreamy period piece finds an aging Giacomo Casanova (Vicenç Altaió) coming face to face with the new age, as embodied in the form of Dracula.
Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme)
Xavier Dolan (Canada, 90 min)
Xavier Dolan, one of Canada’s most provocative and boundary pushing filmmakers, dips his toes into the mainstream with this gripping psychological thriller. Dolan plays the grief-stricken Tom, who ventures into the bucolic Quebec countryside for his lover’s funeral, only to become a pawn in a savage, sadistic game perpetrated by members of the grieving family.
The Unity of All Things
Alexander Carver, Daniel Schmidt (USA, 97 min)
Adventurous and irreverent, Alexander Carver and Daniel Schmidt’s speculative satire explores the concept of utopia and tests the bounds of visual art with an exhilarating sense of daring.
Vic + Flo Saw a Bear
Denis Côté (Canada, 95 min)
Desire and revenge fuel Denis Côté’s entrancing tragicomedy about two lesbian ex-cons trying—and failing—to discover normalcy in the Quebec countryside.
What Now? Remind Me Later (E Agora? Lembra-me)
Director: Joaquim Pinto (Portugal, 164 min)
No less—and much more—than the greatest film ever made about living with HIV, Joaquim Pinto’s stunning comeback after a decade of inactivity does what every video diary wished it did: presents an all-encompassing, moving and touching look at the pains and pleasures of daily existence.
The King’s Body (O corpo de Afonso)
João Pedro Rodrigues (Portugal, 30 min)
Made for the city of Guimarães European cultural celebrations, João Pedro Rodrigues’ film asks questions (off-screen) of 24 Galician men in various states of undress (and in front of a green-screen), testing their knowledge of Portuguese history—in particular, their thoughts on the first (self-proclaimed) king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques. The answers might surprise you, but in this variation on a casting session for a superhero film, their bodies do much of the talking. Screens with the feature film Redemption.
João Pedro Rodrigues,João Rui Guerra da Mata (Portugal, 33 min)
Co-directed by João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata, this a mysterious addendum to The Last Time I Saw Macao. The Joãos again employ film-noir tropes in a story of a woman gone missing, but this time the Asian-tinged game is set in Portugal’s biggest Chinatown area of Varziela. Mahjong sees both directors making onscreen appearances, with Guerra da Mata, and his hat, assuming the lead role. Screens with the feature film Redemption.
Kays Mejri (Canada, 10 min)
A dancer conveys the horrors endured by homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps through bold contemporary movement. Plays as part of the shorts programme Dark Matter.
The 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival runs September 26 through October 11. Visit http://www.viff.org/festival for tickets and information.