VIFF ’21 Quick Reviews: ‘The Beta Test’ and ‘Quickening’

The 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival is officially underway, and here we are with quick reviews of two films for you to check out.

The Beta Test

Jim Cummings has developed quite the following online for his grassroots approach to filmmaking and because of his debut features Thunder Road. The Beta Test is his third feature (co-directed with PJ McCabe this time) and takes on the more toxic aspects of the film business head-on. Indeed, some of the most upsetting dialogue are reportedly verbatim quotes from agents, much like Cummings plays.

It isn’t 100% successful, but it sticks to its themes, and the big final speech is definitely one to remember. If you are a fan of Cummings playing a character about to self immolate out of some combination of anxiety, paranoia, and self-loathing, then this one has something for you.

The Beta Test is playing as part of VIFF 2021. It has in-person screenings on October 1st and 3rd. It also played as part of Fantastic Fest 2021 this past week.

Rating: 3/5


A thoughtful examination of the struggles of first-generation children of immigrants, Quickening follows a young woman at a crossroads. Studying performing arts at university, which her parents aren’t thrilled with, in an off again on again relationship with a boy that is very suddenly off again, and finding herself increasingly incapable of keeping up with the code-switching required to fit in with her white university friends and her Pakistani childhood friends.

Quiet, sensitive, introspective, and bringing a not often seen perspective to screen, Quickening is one to watch for.

Quickening is playing as part of VIFF 2021. It will be available on VIFF Connect and have in-person screenings on October 2nd and 4th

Rating: 3/5
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