Since 1982 the Vancouver International Film Festival has been showcasing cinematic stories from around the world. In a previous blog I recapped the the queer and queer-interest films on display. Here I will give mini reviews of some that had the good fortune to pre-screen.
Some festival films go on to have theatrical release and if they are Canadian you have to catch them quick because they don’t get the marketing budget of the blockbuster super hero films.
Public Schooled (Canada)
This incredibly charming and quirky film has a big heart making it delightfully pleasing.
Liam (an awkwardly funny Daniel Doheny) has been home schooled his whole life because his loving and neurotic mother (an intensely sweet Judy Greer) think public school breeds mediocrity. Completely sheltered from the outside world and seemingly without a TV or computer when Liam has to go local high school to take his equivalency exam he sees a one-legged girl and falls instantly in love.
Director Kyle Rideout and co-writer Josh Epstein manage a marvellous balancing act. Although the premise is verging on incestuous drama it stays brightly amusing and just when it starts to get too cloyingly quirky it drops into the deeper drama of the characters reality.
Cinematography by Stirling Bancroft also captures this off kilter world with some really fun framing of shots.
Although the final act is pleasantly predictable it was a fantastically fun coming of age tale that I hope gets a theatrical release.
The mini trailer is here.
On Putin’s Blacklist (Canada)
Important documentary presumes too much and meanders too far.
Vancouver director Boris Ivanov has created a far reaching documentary about Putin’s rise to power in Russia and his eventual ban on foreign adoption and then crack down on gay rights.
Using footage in Russia plus interviews with LGBT refugees and adoptive parents and the kids, as well a news footage and other documentaries the film although passionate and important lacks a clear three act structure. It jumps around from subject to subject with out a clear through line.
It also presumes that the viewer is well versed on the inner workings of Russian Parliamentary procedures and recent political events. Is Dumas a geographical district or a level of government? Why is it important the Cremia was annexed? When we saw the little girl hyperactively playing with her doll house what did we learn about the overall themes of the documentary?
The subject matter is important but because of it’s exhaustive jumping back and forth it felt like the 76 mins running time was much longer.
The trailer is here.
I also had a on-line screener for another local filmmaker but it kept freezing no matter what platform I tried to watch it on but it looked moody and sad.
Four young adults struggle with the consequences of their actions and how things have trickled down to their friends and family. Directed by Cody Bown.
The trailer is here.
So that’s all I got.
Out TV was not offered a press pass this year. So I only got on-line screeners for 3 films and one of them kept freezing.
If you went to Vancouver International Film Festival please let me know how it was.
David C Jones