VIFF Review: ‘Jumbo’ is a sweet film about love and acceptance

Jumbo

Jumbo, on its face, is about a young woman who falls in love with a carnival ride. No, not “oh hey, I love that ride”, she develops a deep emotional and sexual attachment to a carnival ride.

Yes, that’s a bit weird, but that is just the surface of the story. At its heart, Jumbo is about the fact that love is love, that love is not always what we expect, and that sometimes even if we don’t understand something, acceptance is the best way forward.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Magnitude of All Things’ looks at climate change through the lens of personal loss.

The Magnitude of All Things

The planet is changing. Many still deny it, but I honestly cannot understand how. As of this writing, North America is being battered by storms on one side and wildfires on the other, both with unprecedented frequency and destructive power. Countries like the Maldives are disappearing as the sea level rises, permafrost in the arctic is melting as the temperature rises, and entire ecosystems are collapsing around the world.

And yet, people still deny it.

The Magnitude of All Things, the new documentary from director Jennifer Abbott, explores much of this change. There is not a lot of new information here if you have been paying attention to the world, but Abbott takes a different route to this information: grief.

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VIFF Review: ‘Inconvenient Indian’ is a powerful look at the past, and present, of Indigenous life in Canada

Inconvenient Indian

America is in the news right now. Police are rioting brutally against protestors who have been demonstrating against police brutality for months now. Black Lives Matter, but the police don’t seem to have received the message.

There’s a perception that Canada is immune or exempt from this type of action, and that when you cross the border from America into Canada everything bad just sort of stops. This, of course, could not be further from the truth. Canada has a long and storied history of mistreating the indigenous peoples of our country, while portraying that history as peaceful.

Inconvenient Indian, the new film from director Michelle Latimer based on the book by Thomas King, aims to shine a light on our perceptions of Indigenous culture in Canada and America, and in the process becomes one of the most important pieces of Canadian media of the year.

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VIFF Interview: Director Helen Shaver on her film ‘Happy Place’

Helen Shaver / Happy Place

Helen Shaver is kind of a big deal. This year alone, she has directed episodes of Westworld, Snowpiercer, and Lovecraft Country. She is a veteran of prestige TV and directed a made-for-TV movie in 1999 that won an Emmy. Her new film Happy Place, streaming as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival, is her first feature film.

I was able to sit down with her on Zoom to speak about Happy Place, what it’s like working with Canadian legends, and the universality of the experience of trauma and mental health issues.

Spoiler alert: she was a delight to talk to.

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VIFF Review: Beauty Water’s message gets lost in a weak narrative

Beauty Water

Beauty Water‘s central premise holds so much promise for shining a light on the dangerous popularity for constructive surgery among young women. Especially in the film’s native South Korea, women are increasingly putting themselves through regular procedures to attain a vision of beauty incessantly targeted at them from both local and foreign media representations. The idol business is booming, further increasing the pressure. So it’s a real shame that Beauty Water elevates this idea with some significant body horror, only to throw it away with a weak script and inability to focus on the issues in any depth.

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VIFF Review: ‘Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game’ is a slice of nostalgia

Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High school Basketball Game

We’ve all seen sports movies. The story of an underdog team that needs to find it in their hearts to work as a team and rally to beat their rivals. Or maybe they play their best but lose at the last moment, only to learn a valuable life lesson about how to define success. Or maybe they’re playing to give their hometown a boost following an economic downturn or tragedy. These are stories about heart, gumption, and stick-to-itiveness.

These are feel-good movies, with the thrill and emotional highs of the game serving to reinforce some greater point about life. But do they look like real life? Sure, some of the time for some people, but for many high school sports are a mundane slog.

Enter Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game, in which writer and director Ted Stenson attempt to capture this more mundane, realistic night in the life of a high school basketball team.

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VIFF Review: ‘Special Actors’ will leave you with a feeling of pure, unpretentious, happiness.

Special Actors

It’s not often Matt and I both feel compelled to review the exact same film for the site. In fact, it’s only happened once before, with 2012’s Skyfall prompting two different Bond takes. It takes something truly special for us to feel compelled to both write about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Shinichiro Ueda’s Special Actors.

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VIFF Review: ‘Monkey Beach’ offers gorgeous looks at both scenery and culture

Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach is an important Canadian novel. Winner of the Ethel Wilson Prize, it tells the story of a young Haisla woman who returns home to Kitamaat after her brother goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Upon her return, she begins to unravel her own past and examine her ancestral supernatural powers to communicate with spirits and the dead.

This premise is ripe for adaptation, and the only surprising thing is that it hasn’t happened sooner. That it has happened now –with an all First Nations cast and a First Nations director– is for the better, though.

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VIFF 2020: Most Anticipated Movies of the Festival featuring Thomas from MoviesForReel

VIFF 2020

The 39th Vancouver International Film Festival is coming up soon! From the 24th of September to the 7th of October we’ll be watching and celebrating film. There are over 100 feature films this year in the festival’s remote format, and I sat down with Thomas from MoviesForReel to talk about our most anticipated films of the festival.

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Heads Up Vancouver: VIFF 2020 is coming!

VIFF 2020

Local film lovers rejoice, the 39th annual Vancouver International Film Festival is coming! September 24th through October 7th the biggest celebration of film in the city, and one of the biggest in North America, will once again be running.

This year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the festival is going entirely online this year, much like the just ended Fantasia Festival. Both Simon and I have received accreditation this year so we hope to bring you all kinds of coverage, which you can keep track of using the VIFF 2020 tag here on Awesome Friday!

2020 VIFF Coverage Banner

In order to facilitate the festival moving online, the VIFF is launching VIFF Connect, a streaming platform that will make the lineup of film available to residents of BC, and VIFF talks and conferences will be available to viewers around the world. More details on this are available on the VIFF website.

The full lineup of films is being announced this morning. Time to get excited!

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