What to See at the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival

With over 235 feature-length films to choose from, it's tough to decide what to see at the 31st annual VIFF. Here are our picks and recommendations

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Every year VIFF brings to town documentaries, short films and foreign and domestic movies that we might never otherwise get a chance to see

Film festivals always tempt culture critics to search for trends in the current crop of movies. They’re usually there to find – in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, for instance, at least two entries will most likely change the way we look at people with disabilities.

On another level, film festivals are about the numbers, and the health of the movie industry. The 31st VIFF has scheduled over 235 feature-length films (not to mention over 100 shorts) from 75 countries in more than 600 screenings.

Cancon watchdogs can rest assured (or not) that the selection includes 36 Canadian features. However you look at it, VIFF brings everything from crowd-pleasers to art-house head-scratchers that we might otherwise never get a chance to see. Here are a few worth checking out.

The Official Program Catalogue goes on sale Sept 15.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival



Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, Funny Games) is one of the most accomplished and disturbing filmmakers in the world. With Amour, about a married couple coping with dementia, Haneke became of the few directors to win a second Palme d’Or at Cannes. Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian UK called Amour “a moving, terrifying and uncompromising drama of extraordinary intimacy and intelligence.”

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Room 237

A sensation at Sundance (take that how you will), this documentary gathers theories from a wide array of thinkers, writers and maybe a few folks on loose terms with reality, about meanings in Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel The Shining. At the very least, Room 237 promises to be a portrait of movie nerd-dom run amok.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Call Me Kuchu

Uganda’s first openly gay man challenges the country’s anti-homosexuality bill in what LA Weekly calls “a must-see… Heart-wrenching and inspiring…” Call Me Kuchu won Best International Feature at Hot Docs 2012.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Like Someone in Love

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (A Taste of Cherry, Certified Copy) goes to Japan for this intriguing, open-ended drama about a young student/prostitute visiting an old academic who doesn’t seem to have sex on his mind at all. Did you catch that “doesn’t seem to” part? Critics have praised the cinematography and acting in Like Someone in Love, but beware of an ending that may leave you baffled.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


The Minister (L’exercice de l’Etat)

How do you get people interested in a film about the French Transport Minister? Well, you can start, as did the marketers behind The Minister, with a poster featuring a naked woman crawling into the open mouth of a giant crocodile (the image is actually from the first scene in the movie). Winner of Best Screenplay (and Best Actor for Olivier Gourmet) at the French national film awards, this French/Belgian co-production dissects modern French politics… but you probably guessed that from the whole woman/crocodile thing.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Come As You Are

Geoffrey Enthoven’s comic drama scored Audience Awards at Montreal, Palm Springs and Karlovy Vary. Come As You Are follows three disabled young men looking for adventure at a Spanish brothel.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Neighbouring Sounds (O Som Ao Redor)

In this directorial debut from Kleber Mendonça Filho, residents of a crumbling middle-class neighbourhood in Brazil hire a private security firm after a series of burglaries. The Onion’s AV Club reviewer Scott Tobias wrote, “Neighbouring Sounds is a beautiful, scarily assured debut, a collection of small moments that add up to a pointillist wonder.”

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Any Day Now

In this ‘70s-set drama, Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt adopt a developmentally disabled teenager. Any Day Now won the Audience Award: Narrative at Tribeca and Audience Award for Best Film in Seattle this year.

Credit: Vancouver International Film Festival


Persistence of Vision

Whatever happened to Richard Williams, the animator famous for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Persistence of Vision documents Williams’ efforts to make and keep control of his masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler, an animated feature which this doc posits may be the greatest animated film never made.