VIWIFF 2018: Best of the Fest On the Shore

This year’s Vancouver International Women in Film Festival was a great success—in turnout, audience participation, and cinematic skill. I miss it already! Luckily, I don’t have to lament it’s end for long. Keeping the festival flame burning is VIWIFF’s Best of the Fest on the Shore, a special presentation at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre of some award-winning festival films. Now is your chance to catch three films that perhaps you missed the first time around.

Best of the Fest on the Shore will include a trio of VIWIFF picks: Mascha Schilinski’s Dark Blue Girl (darling of the festival’s award ceremony, winning the IATSE 891 Award for Best Feature, the DGC Award for Best Directing, the Bron Award for Best Screenplay, the CCE Award for Best Editing, and the CFM Award for Best Musical Score), The World in Your Window (a New Zealand short film directed by Zoe McIntosh, which won the Side Street Award for Best Short), and local filmmaker Crystal Lowe’s The Curtain (winner of one of the Matrix Awards).

From its first images, elemental and disorienting, Dark Blue Girl leads us into a world both familiar and startling. When Luca’s separated parents, Jimmy and Hannah, finally find a buyer for their holiday home on the Greek volcano island of Santorini, the disjointed family returns to the place where they split up two years ago. Suddenly, the young girl faces an emotional environment now much changed, as her mother and father reignite a dormant passion. The magic and intensity of childhood provide Dark Blue Girl’s through-line, as Luca’s viewpoint reveals the strange ties that bind people together, whether they like it or not.

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“Dark Blue Girl” directed by Mascha Schilinski (Germany)

Jury response to Dark Blue Girl was strong. It was said that “the pacing of the film was exquisite. It was deliberate and on point within the context of the story… many scenes were cut so perfectly that they linger in the mind for days. [Dark Blue Girl] was a brilliant film [containing] beautifully observed characters and many poignant and memorable scenes. A rare and deeply moving look at this family triangle. The jealousies of childhood are brilliantly captured in this film. Illuminating!”

The World in Your Window follows eight-year-old Jesse, who lives in a twilight world of sadness and silence, squeezed into a tiny caravan with his grief-stricken father. They’re in limbo, existing more than living. The child intuitively understands that looking forward is harder than looking back; that’s where life happens. But they are stuck until an exceptional connection unlocks the means for Jesse to liberate his father and himself. A hopeful story about a surprising act of kindness.

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“The World in Your Window” directed by Zoe McIntosh

The jury loved The World in Your Window’s subtlety and storyline. In the words of the jury: “The World in Your Window speaks of loss and connection. With little dialogue, this satisfying film visually leads you through a story of a father’s grief, a child’s ability to cope, and an unlikely friendship. [It is a] film that surprises and touches your heart.”

And finally, The Curtain tells a tender and moving tale of two hospitalized strangers who develop a unique understanding of each others’ experiences. Through the safety and anonymity of the room’s curtain divider, they reveal painful, intimate details about their lives.

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“The Curtain” directed by Crystal Lowe

Winner of one Matrix Award, jury members found The Curtain notable for its “lovely, subtle moments between two people whose lives are more similar than they know. A story about pain that is also a story about hope and connection You see it in the performances as well as the colour palette of the film. [The Curtain displays a] very creative and satisfying concept and excellent execution.”

Come! Revel once more in these three films’ drama, intrigue, and warmth! Thank you to the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, for providing yet another opportunity to engage with outstanding cinema made by women.

Check out the full list of VIWIFF award winners here and get your tickets here for the Best of the Fest on the Shore.

This event has been made possible thanks to the support of

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VIWIFF 2018: Meet the Filmmakers

German filmmaker Claudia Vogt has learned that intuition is tantamount to a film’s success. Trust your gut, she says, and a project will flourish. Her latest film, titled Golden Hour, subtly and sensitively explores the refugee crisis as it affects Germany; she offers viewers a chance to more closely understand the way Germany’s children see a politically and socially charged situation. When asked about the inspiration behind Golden Hour, Vogt said that Germany’s political conversation surrounding Syrian and Iraqi refugees deserved an artistic perspective, and a more intimate one—she “decided to go to a place where children from different cultural, ethnic and social origin come in contact [with each other] every day; at a school.” Her intuition led her correctly, and soon Golden Hour had the full support of the school community, as well as Vogt’s own filmmaking sphere. The result is, as you will soon see during the festival, a delicate and endearing (but still politically resonant) look into the lives of Germany’s most vulnerable, and arguably most insightful, people—it’s children.

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This nuance is perhaps a skill Vogt absorbed while watching the films of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky, both of whom she cites as major inspirations. She felt a great connection to “their films’ specific imagery and [style of] storytelling, especially how much they knew about the human soul.” Attention to the more transient and ephemeral aspects of human life—it’s soulfulness—is certainly present in Golden Hour. We observe an elementary-school janitor make his rounds from empty classroom to empty classroom, sunlight streaming in through the windows, as he follows the traces left by youngsters full of promise, hope, and imagination. The delightfully candid voices of children narrate his journey, speaking about the goings on of their day at school but also of the adversity they face after migration.

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Vogt’s skill and the strength of her film’s theme allowed her access to funding through the Berlin Project Fund for Cultural Education, a regional support fund for the arts. She says that Germany’s awareness surrounding gender inequality in the film industry has grown, and that funding is a key element in the country’s efforts towards equal opportunity, but that there is always more work to be done. “Of course,” she says, “we need more women in the film industry. Quite clearly, we as female filmmakers still have a lot to do to bring about change and to assert ourselves.” After watching Golden Hour, it is clear that the assertions of Germany’s female filmmakers are exceptionally worthy of the public’s attention. Vogt’s artistry as a filmmaker, combined with her aforementioned intuition, certainly solidifies the need for female perspectives, if that need wasn’t already obvious.

Another German filmmaker whose newest film will be screening at this year’s festival is Claudia Euen—her documentary, In the Shade of the Apple Tree, similarly explores the soulfulness of human life, with equal success. “In the Shade of the Apple Tree is a very personal film,” Euen says. “It was a long process of research, over many years, into my own family history. I decided to make a film to tell the sweet story of my grandparents. To me, they were an extraordinary couple. The starting point of my research was when my own relationship ended; I asked myself with even more intensity, how did they do it? How could their love survive over all those years?” In the Shade follows Ilse and Wolfgang Gutsche, who have been married for 65 incredible years; together, they have faced four social orders, the raising of children, growing old, and all manner of life’s ups and downs. Their love and respect for each other are palpable through the screen. This is certainly due, at least in part, to Euen’s familial connection with Ilse and Wolfgang (she is their granddaughter, after all). But the power of this story also lies in its slow, steady progression; the care and contentment that Ilse and Wolfgang feel as a couple is mirrored by the camera’s repose. A love’s strength lies in its moments of stillness and quietude, so In the Shade would suggest. In Euen’s words, “the film feels very slow because everything moves slowly in their life. The camera is fixed, and life develops before [its lens].”

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Euen made her documentary with a very small crew, and shouldered much of the production work in addition to her role as director. Thankfully, she was able to secure funding from Germany’s government resources—otherwise, we might have never had the opportunity to meet Ilse and Wolfgang. However, Euen states that her success with government funding is not the experience of all female filmmakers. “In Germany, half of all students in film schools are female, but when you look at [the allocation of] funding and awards, there are far more men than women,” she says. “The chief of the MDM (Filmfund in central Germany) said once, that only 25 percent of project applications are from women. Another big problem is that most juries who decide [where the money goes] contain more men than women. This is a big subject of discussion.” Institutional barriers preventing women’s voices from being widely heard are internationally felt, it seems. As, unfortunately, one might expect.

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But hope and consolation are not hard to find, especially with superb cinema such as Golden Hour and In the Shade of the Apple Tree available to enjoy. How lucky are we, to have the work of emerging artists such as Vogt and Euen on Vancouver screens? Not only will their films be screening at this year’s festival, but both filmmakers will be in attendance during the International Women in Film Festival’s bloc of artist talks, taking place on Friday, March 9th. When asked how they feel about travelling to Vancouver and participating in the festival, both stated their enthusiastic excitement. Vogt said that she “is greatly looking forward to attending the festival, meeting other filmmakers, and talking about our films. I am excited and feel honoured. I am sure this journey will be a great experience.” Similarly, Euen expressed enthusiasm for the work of other filmmakers, stating that she is “really looking forward to coming to Canada—to seeing the country, presenting my film to an international audience, and to meeting and talking with people about film and future projects.” I can’t wait to hear more from Vogt and Euen during their time at VIWIFF—cinematic insight will abound!

-Sarah Bakke

In the Shade of the Apple Tree  is screening at 8:30 PM on Wednesday, March 7th with the short film about a man and his cat, KisGet tickets now!

The Golden Hour is screening at 9 PM on Friday, March 9th in the Symbols and Survival shorts block of international gems. Get tickets now!

The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival runs from March 6 – 11th, 2018 at the Vancity Theatres. Don’t miss a diverse selection of local and international short and feature films as well as the workshops, artist talks, parties, panels, & more! Click here for more info on the festival.

Sarah Bakke currently interns at WIFTV, where she gets to write all kinds of film-related material––a cinephile’s dream! When she’s not scribbling film notes or watching movies, Sarah can be found at The Cinematheque as a weekend theatre manager and online at SAD Magazine, in her role as web editor.

VIWIFF 2018 Screenplay Competition Announces 2018 Finalists

This year’s screenplay competition was nearly too close to call! However, after much evaluation through three rounds of judging, we are excited to name our three finalists. One will be chosen to receive the Ken Hayward Award for Best Screenplay at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 11th.

Ellie Foumbi is an actor/writer/director born in Cameroon, now living in New York and represented by UTA in Los Angeles. Her award-winning short film “Zenith” was a semifinalist in the 44th Student Academy Awards. In her feature-length screenplay “Zenith,” an adopted black Mennonite leaves the rural white community she was raised in and travels to an inner-city neighbourhood to find her biological mother. In the process, she discovers what it means to be black.

Jill Taylor is a British-Canadian screenwriter based out of Toronto. A graduate of the Second City Comedy Writing Program in Chicago, she recently won Best Sitcom Pilot at the 2017 Austin Film Festival. She is represented by Meridian Artists.  “I Need A Hero,” tells the story of a former space hero with a secret who is called on to save the world again – this time with her teenage daughter in tow.

As a freelance writer, Sheri Davenport has been the creative force behind dozens of videos for major corporations and non-profit organizations. She has written a produced short film and a TV pilot and has optioned eleven screenplays/treatments. Her screenplays have won or reached finalist status in a number of writing competitions and film festivals, including the 2015 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival’s inaugural screenplay competition. Welcome back, Sheri, with “Sins of the Father” – when a single mom learns that the sociopath who raped her has a legal right to custody of the child conceived from that rape, she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her son.

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From L – R: Ellie Foumbi, Jill Taylor, & Sheri Davenport

Congratulations to our top three… and one more!

Vancouver writer Sophie Naima Caird’s work has been featured on numerous television shows, and she’s worked in writing rooms in Toronto and Los Angeles. We’re pleased to give Sophie an honourable mention for her first feature script “When He Gets to Her” – a neo-noir where a voyeur with a criminally astute sense of justice runs a service where he kills people who want to die… until his feelings for one of his clients force him into a difficult choice.

A free screenwriting Artists’ Talk at the festival is scheduled for 1:30-2:30pm on Saturday, March 10th, with some of our Finalists and Official Selection screenwriters in attendance. Please join us!

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The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival runs from March 6 – 11th, 2018 at the Vancity Theatres. Don’t miss a diverse selection of local and international short and feature films as well as the workshops, artist talks, parties, panels, & more!

Click here for more info!

 

VIWIFF 2018: Indigenous Perspectives

In our final series of festival suggestions, Indigenous talent takes precedence. Films made by both local and not-so-local (but still Canadian!) Indigenous filmmakers can be found throughout the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival schedule, but two blocs, in particular, are full of First Nations content—Indigenous Voices and Family and Friendship. Skillfully told and beautifully crafted, these stories are not to be missed! Here are a few choice titles that I think are especially worth making time for.

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“The Rive of Silence” Written by Petie Chalifoux

Local screenwriter Petie Chalifoux (in collaboration with director Micheal Auger—a husband-and-wife duo!) debuts her latest feature, River of Silence, at this year’s fest. Helen (Mariel Belanger) lives with her husband Nathan (Stan Isadore) in present-day Vancouver. They are forced to navigate the horror of a missing and murdered child when their daughter, Tanis, disappears en route to visit extended family. As the evidence begins to suggest a close connection between the killer and the community, an even more troubling tale emerges. Chalifoux navigates an important topic with depth and sensitivity, delving into the pain of grief amidst the unknown, and draws upon her own personal experience of a similar struggle.

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“The Roundhouse” Directed by Theresa Warbus

Theresa Warbus’ The Roundhouse (another B.C. production!) connects the social struggles of high school with one girl’s Ojibwe identity and celebrates triumph over the traps of peer pressure. Liya is caught between the social demands of her classmates and the traditions of her Ojibwe culture. She must make a tough decision about who she is and who she ultimately wants to be. Warbus’ film expertly weaves together different perspectives across a cultural divide, with the resilient Liya as our guide.

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“The Last Walk” by directors Anna Hoover, Johannes Lynge, and Jerri Thrasher (Northwest Territories, Greenland, USA)

Finally, from the Family and Friendship bloc, the distinct visions of three Indigenous filmmakers come together in The Last Walk, a stitched-together collection of three works of short fiction, all produced by the Arctic Film Circle. The films weave together both traditional and contemporary storytelling techniques, ultimately representing a new wave of Indigenous films in the Arctic—one that pays homage to history as well as empowers a generation of modern storytellers. Directors Anna Hoover, Jerri Thrasher, and Johannes Lynge all take on similar themes of familial loss, isolation, and second chances—to divergent ends.

And thus, my series of recommendations concludes with a collection of films chosen for their variety, creative merit, and cinematic skill. I hope you enjoy these films just as much as I do! Happy film-watching!

-Sarah Bakke

Rive of Silence screens during the Indigenous Voices program at 2:30 PM on Thursday, March 8th. Free event; Click here to register.

The Roundhouse screens during the High Stakes program at 3:15 Pm on Saturday, March 10th. Buy Tickets.

The Last Walk screens during the Friends & family program at 4:15 Pm on Sunday, March 11th. Buy Tickets.

The Indigenous Filmmaking Panel is a free event on Sunday, March 11th at 2:45 PM moderated by Doreen Manuel (Secwepemc/Ktunuxa First Nations) filmmaker and Coordinator/Instructor of Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking at Capilano University. Free event; Click here to register.

The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival runs from March 6th – 11th at the Vancity Theatres in Vancouver. Click here for the full festival schedule.

Get your tickets now

Sarah Bakke currently interns at WIFTV, where she gets to write all kinds of film-related material––a cinephile’s dream! When she’s not scribbling film notes or watching movies, Sarah can be found at The Cinematheque as a weekend theatre manager and online at SAD Magazine, in her role as web editor.