The 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is starting to finally announce their roster of films with an outstanding line-up of documentaries that celebrate the power of cinema and the arts across the Dance, Music, Theatre and the Visual Arts mediums. Legendary filmmakers Wim Wenders , Frederick Wiseman, and Mike Figgis are among the talent presenting films at the festival this year which runs from September 29-October 14th. Here is a taste of what to expect so far:
Germany/France/UK | Director: Wim Wenders
One German master more than does justice to another as Wim Wenders fashions a kinetic and gorgeous tribute to the singular German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch. “Entertainment that will send culture vultures swooning… the film lets the artist’s work speak for itself via big, juicy slabs of performance.” — Variety
|Spain | Director: Carlos Saura
Carlos Saura continues to mine a rich vein of flamenco gold in this latest breathtaking documentary on the Spanish dance. Teaming up with master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and legendary guitarist Paco de Lucia (and many others), Saura and his team meld soaring music and dance with absolutely gorgeous visuals to entrancing effec
USA/France | Director: Frederick Wiseman
Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman (La Danse) continues his behind-the-scenes look at the Parisian dance world with his most entertaining and eye-popping film to date. In the can’t-miss Crazy Horse, Wiseman follows the gruelling rehearsals and preparations for Désirs, a new show at the world’s greatest and most chic nude cabaret club.
USA | Director: Bess Kargman
Six ballet dancers struggle and sacrifice as they endure an arduous year of preparation for the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. Bess Kargman’s documentary captures the high stakes drama that unfolds as these young talents vie to achieve their ultimate goal. Be warned: Ballet is not for sissies.
The Co(te)lette Film
Belgium | Director: Mike Figgis
Adapting Ann Van den Broek’s incendiary dance piece (the playful title references both the French word for “meat chop” and the scandalous Belle Époque novelist), Mike Figgis challenges stereotypes about female carnality by literally parading them about. What initially seems salacious ultimately proves itself to be rigorously constructed.
Patience (After Sebald)
UK | Director: Grant Gee
A richly textured essay film on landscape, art, history, life and loss, Grant Gee’s much-anticipated new film offers a unique exploration of the work of internationally acclaimed writer W.G. Sebald via a walk through East Anglia tracking his most influential book, The Rings of Saturn. The first film about Sebald internationally, marking 10 years since his untimely death, it features contributions from major writers, artists and filmmakers.
France | Directors: Renaud Barret, Florent de La Tullaye
Staff Benda Bilili, a band made up of formerly homeless, paraplegic street musicians from Kinshasa, has found great success in Europe. Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye trace the band’s amazing story. “The music itself plays out as an exuberant blend of blues and African rumba. It’s the noise of the discarded: picked up, brushed down and made precious again.” — The Observer
France | Director: Michael Radford
While diminutive in stature, late jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani was a monumental talent. Afflicted by brittle bone disease, Petrucciani constantly risked injury with his frenetic playing style. Yet, as Michael Radford’s candid tribute reveals, the hedonistic musician was as powerless to resist his muse as he was his many vices.
The Girls in the Band
USA | Director: Judy Chaikin
A must see! Director Judy Chaikin’s bebop documentary uncovers the startling history of female jazz musicians and all-woman big band music. From the 1940s to the swinging sounds of the contemporary DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the story of these incredibly talented pioneers roars with spirit and sound.
Spain | Director: Emilio R. Barrachina
Spain lost one of its great singers and flamenco one of its most brilliant innovators when Enrique Morente died suddenly last December at the peak of his career, only a week after the completion of Emilio R. Barrachina’s soulful testament to this singer, experimentalist and composer’s life and art. Of interest to everyone but a must-see (and hear!) for lovers of flamenco!
Finland/Germany | Director: Mika Kaurismäki
Miriam Makeba’s powerful voice—as a singer and activist—takes centre stage in Mika Kaurismäki’s stirring tribute. Archival footage and fascinating interviews shed light on the legend whose songs won hearts while her politics courted controversy.
Andrew Bird: Fever Year
USA | Director: Xan Aranda
By the end of a gruelling year on the road, idiosyncratic singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird is left hobbling on crutches and ravaged by fever. Xan Aranda’s sweat-stained tour doc depicts an artist pushing both his creative and physical limits.
“A compelling portrait of a hugely talented exile and international figurehead for black South Africa.” — Screen Daily
The Family Jams
USA | Director: Kevin Barker
In 2004, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Vetiver toured together, sharing their singular strains of “freak folk” in intimate venues. Kevin Barker’s charmingly lo-fi documentary offers an insider’s view of this “significant moment for culture” and also serves as a testament to communal creativity.
The Singing City
Director: Vadim Jendreyko | Germany
As the Stuttgart Opera mounts an ambitious production of Wagner’s Pasifal, documentarian Vadim Jendreyko supplies a riveting study of the storied company’s creative process. While the singers and orchestra’s rehearsals pulse with the expected intensity, the Herculean efforts of prop masters, set designers, wardrobe artists and technicians prove equally dramatic.
Alan Bennett and the Habit of Art
UK | Director: Adam Low
One of the UK’s national treasures, author, playwright and Beyond the Fringe founding member Alan Bennett scored a huge hit with his play The Habit of Art, about a fictional meeting between composer Benjamin Britten and poet W.H. Auden. Adam Low directs this revealing and entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the man and his art. Screens with Alan Bennett: The Southbank Show.
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life
USA | Director: Dori Berinstein
A bonbon for buffs of all things Broadway, [Dori Berinstein’s documentary] is a celebration and a lament—a celebration of Channing’s seven decades as musical comedy star, and a lament that there’s really no one like her anymore, a performer who eclipsed most of the roles she played by force of personality, and defined the word “trouper.” — Variety.
Mark Lewis: Nowhere Land
Germany | Director: Reinhard Wulf
Reinhard Wulf follows noted visual artist Mark Lewis to the nowhere land of Toronto, where Lewis is making the short Mid day Mid summer, Corner of Yonge and Dundas, and travels with Lewis to the locations of his other Ontario-shot works. A fascinating portrait of an artist at work. Screens with Lewis’ latest piece, Black Mirror at the National Gallery.
Rolf Harris Paints His Dream
UK | Director: Vikram Jayanti
Vikram Jayanti (The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector) turns his cameras on venerable entertainer and painter Rolf Harris as he realizes his dream project—capturing on canvas moments from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Aided by models like Lily Cole, Lizzy Jagger and Dervla Kirwan, Harris reveals himself to be much more than just a children’s performer.