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August 21, 2017

B.C. film is looking real good in first VIFF 2017 programming announcement


Adrian Mack / The Georgia Straight

The Vancouver International Film Festival revealed 12 titles in its B.C.-based Sea to Sky stream today (August 10)—the first programming announcement for this year’s festival.

It’s pretty mouthwatering, with a nice mix of new and established talent, some major stars, much timeliness in subject matter, and an admirable bent towards Indigenous issues and representation:

c’əsnaʔəm: the city before the city  Actor Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers takes her position behind the camera for this doc about the prehistory of the Lower Mainland, based on the 2015 exhibition mounted by the Musqueam First Nation and UBC Museum of Anthropology.

DEAD SHACK The disgustingly talented Peter Ricq—probably better known to Straight readers as one half of EDM duo Humans—has finally made the gore-drenched fake ‘80s horror movie he’s been talking about for years (with what sounds like a soupcon of National Lampoon’s Vacation thrown in the mix.)

ENTANGLEMENT  Jason James impressed with his 2013 debut That Burning Feeling. Looks like he’s still working the comedy-of-discomfort furrow with this latest, but now he’s got Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) to handle 90-minutes or so of escalating humiliation.

GREGOIRE  After knocking it out of the park (or maybe the rink) with his performance in Hello Destroyer, Jared Abrahamson returns to VIFF in the first of three films this year, with this Fort Mac ensemble piece directed by Cody Bown. Emily Haine and Ben Cotton co-star.

HOLLOW IN THE LAND  Jared Abrahamson’s second feature at this year VIFF sounds like a slice of small-town noir, with a body in a trailer park setting things off for amateur sleuth played by Glee’s Dianna Agron. The splendidly named Scooter Corkle makes his feature debut as writer-director after lensing 2014’s amiable Vancouver-made splatterfest Bloody Knuckles.

Luk’Luk’I  While some of us were partying at the 2010 Olympics, it was still dire business as usual for the inhabitants of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. That’s the premise of Wayne Wapeemuka’s intriguing debut (he was responsible for 2015’s award-winning short “Balmoral Hotel”), which uses non-actors in key roles. We probably couldn’t improve on the film’s IMDb entry: “Luk’Luk’I takes us into uncharted territory, falling somewhere between a fiction we need to see and a documentary we wish didn’t have to exist.”

MEET BEAU DICK: MAKER OF MONSTERS  Sometimes the increasingly insane art market gets it right. Filmmakers LaTiesha Ti’si’tla Fazakas and Natalie Bolla bring us this portrait of Kwakwaka’wakw artist-visonary Beau Dick, who took his activism to the steps of the B.C. legislature while his carvings enjoyed global renown.

NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL  The much anticipated feature debut by Kathleen Hepburn expands on her award-winning 2015 short. With the oil sands forming the film’s psychic backdrop, great Brit actor Shirley Henderson takes on the lead role of a devoted mother beset by Parkinson’s while dealing with her son’s troubled sexual identity.

ON PUTIN’S BLACKLIST  Director Boris Ivanov takes an “engaging” look at the country—or the oligarch-run gangster state, if you will—that you’re probably most curious about right about now. Timelier than a clock wearing a wristwatch, inside another clock.

ONCE THERE WAS A WINTER  After taking VIFF’s BC Emerging Filmmaker award in 2014 with Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, writer-director Ana Valine returns with this snowbound thriller about two battling brothers and the innocent woman who comes between them.

PUBLIC SCHOOLED  Judy (Arrested Development) Greer, Grace Park, Russell Peters and the great Andrew McNee star in Eadweard director Kyle Rideout’s latest, a comedy about a homeschooled dweeb and a girl with a wooden leg. (But a real foot! Not really.)

SHUT UP AND SAY SOMETHING  A guaranteed festival hit from director Melanie Wood, Shut Up and Say Something goes on an intimate journey with Shane Koyczan to meet the father he never knew.