Review: ‘Portraits From A Fire’ comes of age through filmmaking

There are many fundamental truths in this world, and one of them is that creative people will create. Tyler (William Magnus Lulua), a boy growing up on northern BC’s Tsilhqotʼin reserve, makes films. He borrows household items from the community to use as props and screens them in a makeshift open-air cinema. When his latest film is only attended by a handful of people, many of whom then leave to go to bingo night, Tyler decides he needs to make something more personal.

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FNC ’21 Review: ‘Wildhood’ is a tender coming of age tale

No good comes from denying the self. If it seems like a thing easier said than done, that’s because it is. Living in a trailer park with his abusive father and staring down a road or petty crime and everything that follows, Wildhood is the story of a young man who is in so much self-denial that he is dying his hair blond in an effort to distance himself from his indigenous heritage, and that’s before he even begins to examine his sexuality.

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FNC ’21 Review: ‘The White Fortress’ sets young love among a divided city

The White Fortress

Young love set against a backdrop of crime is a tale as old as time. In The White Fortress, the story is set in modern-day Sarajevo and follows a young man called Faruk (Pavle Čemerikić) as he navigates the current realities of growing up poor in the politically divided city.

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VIFF ’21 Interview: Lauren Grant on her directorial debut short film ‘Things We Feel But Do Not Say’

Things We Feel But Do Not Say

Lauren Grant is a prolific producer of Canadian film and television, having worked on the series Killjoys as well as the films Riot Girls, Sugar Daddy and The Retreat just in the last two years. This year she also makes her debut as a director with her original short film Things We Feel But Do Not Say, which premiered as part of the shorts program at VIFF 2021. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lauren on zoom to talk about the film.

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VIFF ’21 Wrap Up: Matthew joins Thomas from ForReel and Taylor from Drink in the Movies to talk festival favourites

2021 VIFF Wrap Up

Another edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival is come and gone, and it’s time to talk about the movies we loved. This year I once got to sit down with Thomas from ForReel Movie News & Reviews and Taylor from Drink in the Movies and since the border is open, and we’re all vaccinated, we got to do it in person! So join us as we each talk about our top three films from the fest.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Bootlegger’ is a gorgeously shot story of findings one’s place

Bootlegger

A young woman returns to her small, rural community and begins to effect change. It’s a setup as old as the movies themselves and one we love to return to because so much can be mined from this kind of setup. In Bootlegger, a young woman returns to the reserve she called home as a child and begins a campaign to open up the sale of alcohol, free the community from some amount of the oppression they face.

It’s a gorgeously shot and very Canadian story.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Petite Maman’ is a warm hug on a rainy day and one of the best films of the year

Petite Maman

While there is a myriad of ways to describe Petite Maman, the effect that it has on the viewer is one of a warm hug. It’s a ray of sunshine through the leaves of a forest on a rainy day. This is my way of saying that it is wonderful and you should watch it, regardless of what I am going to say in the following few paragraphs. Director Céline Sciamma has created another emotionally resonant film and a worthy follow up to Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Belfast’ is a crowd pleasing but personal film from Kenneth Branagh

BELFAST (2021)

The Troubles, as they are so politely referred to, have had an indelible impact on Northern Ireland and the people who live there. Yes, that is the understatement of the decade, but while we think about the 30-year conflict in very broad terms, generally, outside of that country, we often don’t think about the real human impact. Kenneth Branagh is one of those people, and with Belfast, he seeks to tell the story of his families well as part of the story of Northern Ireland at large.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Tin Can’ is a great example of doing a lot with limited resources

Tin Can

In the not too distant future, a global outbreak of a parasitic fungus is devastating humankind. Not content to merely kill you, it latches onto your body, sprouts growths and spores, and changes you into something else entirely. This is the world of Tin Can, one that is in many ways not unlike our own: a world with a raging pandemic, with some people who want to solve the problem and some content merely to avoid it.

As ever, the cinema of the age of COVID-19 speculates what a world might look like under similar circumstances to ours, and Tin Can takes a look at one of those dark futures.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Memoria’ is an experience

Memoria

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a unique filmmaker with only a few films under his belt, but each of them garnering widespread acclaim, probably most notably with 2010s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, for which he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Memoria is the first film he has made outside of his native Thailand, and the first time he has worked with an international cast. While the film is beautifully shot and singular in its vision, it’s also overlong, incredibly indulgent, and will reach into your soul and pull out… something.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Flee’ harnesses the power of animation to give its true story a greater impact

Flee

Documentary filmmaking is some of our most crucial filmmaking. They tell stories of our world and the people that live in it. How, though, do you tell a story that has no images, no film, or any talking heads to back it up. One standard route is to turn the story into fiction. Another, taken this year by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, is to animate the story his friend is telling him, which turns out to be just as powerful a choice.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Paris, 13th District’ is a gorgeous, if slightly thin, look at how we deal with trauma

Paris, 13th District

The first thing you will notice is the cinematography. Shot in elegant black and white, the camera in Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades, en Francais) is a character unto itself, peering into the windows and lives of the residential towers of the district before settling on three to follow. The camera then follows them, like a close friend, and while the resulting film is lightly paced and slight with the details, it never doesn’t feel intimate and empathetic.

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