News: Top Picks on What to See at the 2019 Victoria Film Festival

This year's opening gala film, Sink or Swim (Le Grain Bain) on Feb 1st kicks off the ten-day long event.

Victoria Film Festival 2019

Victoria Film Festival 2019

The Victoria Film Festival (Feb 1 to 10, 2019) is celebrating 25 years! Independent cinema can be fickle, and this year’s selection of shows is all about being forever young.

This year’s opening gala film, Sink or Swim (Le Grain Bain) on Feb 1st kicks off the ten-day long event. This French comedy is about how a group of 40 somethings deal with life. They are having mid-life crises and hope to beat that down by becoming a synchronized swimming team. While this film is not necessarily a play on White Men Can’t Jump, the Olympic theme is notable.

Installation art works include a continuing look into virtual reality at The Atrium (800 Yates Street) and experiments with other ocular equipment to provide visual treats. These filmmakers are taking cinema to a different level by taking a DIY approach which does not conform to the mainstream. Cinema art is being taken to a new level.

Topping the list of films to see, are:

Anthem of a Teenage Prophet
Sat | Feb 2 | 9:00 PM | SilverCity #3

Adapted from Joanne Proulx’s eponymous award-winning novel, director Robin Hayes delves into the 1990s with a spot-on soundtrack, Nirvana-inspired hairstyles and tongue-in-cheek jabs at small-town malaise. Between the burden of his prophecies and an attraction to his deceased friend’s girlfriend, Luke is doing his best to navigate the complexities of adolescence, which is hard enough without psychic abilities. Featuring Juliette Lewis (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Basketball Diaries) as Luke’s yoga-practising mother who’s always in her son’s corner, Hayes’ debut coming-of-age tale is a stylish and authentic exploration of the youthful struggle to find your place in the world.

Ash is Purest White
Feb 1 | 9:00 PM | SilverCity #3

Feb 10 | 3:45 PM | The Vic

Qiao (Tao Zhao) has found love. Her boyfriend Bin (Fan Liao), a gang leader living a violent and erratic life in a small Chinese town, is surrounded by followers who fear and respect him and his gun, including Qiao. But when Bin is trapped and beaten by a mob, Qiao runs to his defence with her boyfriend’s weapon, illegally firing, knowing it would save Bin but send her to jail.

Five years have passed and unwavering in her loyalty, this woman embarks on a journey to reclaim the love she spent time for. The man she still loves has moved on without her, Qiao has paid her debt to society, but will Bin repay his debt to her?

Dead Pigs
Feb 4 | 6:15 PM | SilverCity #3

Feb 6 | 8:45 PM | The Vic

Loosely based on real events when 16,000 diseased pigs are found floating in the Huangpu River in Shanghai, this movie follows a lowly pig farmer with nowhere to dispose of carcasses deemed inedible by local authorities. Forced to cut losses on animals he spent years raising, Old Wang (Haoyu Yang) desperately hustles a hulking pig over his shoulder in hopes of selling the now worthless carcass in the local meat shops. Financial ruin is at stake and this frantic farmer will do anything to survive.

Great Darkened Days
Feb 3 | 12:45 PM | The Vic

To evade conscription and assignment to the front, Philippe, a Quebecer, flees to the western U.S., where he wanders aimlessly from city to city. After winning a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest, he’s robbed and finds himself caught up in a strange human-trafficking group. Philippe’s return to his native Quebec leads to a hallucinated journey through a dark, fascinating and violent country.

Maxime Giroux relies on a top-notch cast to tell his utterly unique story: The portrait of a man lost in the vastness of all-consuming America gives the filmmaker a chance to create a deep and disturbing philosophical meditation on minorities in today’s world.

Feb 7 | 6:30 PM | Odeon #5

Feb 9 | 12:15 PM | SilverCity #3

As a teenager, Isidoro – aka Easy – was the golden boy of car racing. Unfortunately, his momentum on the tracks slowed as he piled on weight to the point that he could no longer fit into his car. Today he is in his 40s, depressed and living with his mother in his former childhood room. One day his brother, successful construction entrepreneur Filo, offers him an unusual gig: drive a coffin with the body of a Ukrainian construction worker from Italy to Ukraine. The journey to an unknown land turns out to be much more complicated than expected, especially when Easy gets lost the second he crosses the Ukrainian border.

Five Men and a Carvaggio
Feb 1 | 8:45 PM | The Vic

Feb 3 | 12:15 PM | SilverCity #3

Guo’s inspiration is drawn from Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It opens in southern China where an artisan painter undertakes a meticulous, life-size reproduction of Caravaggio’s famous painting, Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness.

In Hackney, East London, an Italian poet is given the painting for his 40th birthday. Caravaggio’s exuberant depiction of the youthful wanderer initially triggers nostalgia in the poet, but, thanks to Caravaggio’s exquisite mastery of the play between darkness and light, the poet also ponders the encroaching darkness of the world beyond the painting. Along with his friends – a writer, a philosopher and a photographer who are all immigrants living in London – the poet fears the reproduction does not capture the essence of the original. The friends discuss the painting, reflecting on identity, age and ego.

Hummingbird Project
Feb 8 | 8:45 PM | SilverCity #3

Two cousins embark on an ambitious plan to lay a fiber- optic cable from Kansas City to New York, with the final goal of transferring data for stock exchanges a millisecond sooner than their competitors (approximately the time of a single wing-flap of a hummingbird). If successful, they can gain a crucial competitive advantage and make billions in the process. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Big Little Lies) portray entrepreneurial relatives Vincent and Anton Zalesky, who attract wealthy speculators to finance the project. However, it’s their former boss Eva Torres, a Wall Street tycoon played by Salma Hayek in a villainous turn, who ruthlessly threatens to derail their plans.

The Raft
Feb 3 | 6:30 PM | Odeon #5

Feb 6 | 6:15 PM | SilverCity #3

In the early 1970s, anthropologist Santiago Genovés plotted one of the most unique, bold, and bizarre experiments in history. His plan was to take a group of strangers from all over the world, set them on a small raft, and float them out to sea in order to witness group dynamics and the possibilities of violent and sexual tendencies. Five men and six women were chosen, all from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Fairly soon, the social experiment started to take unexpected turns Genovés did not account for. The media jumped on this story, hoping to get attention by dubbing this as “The Sex Raft.” In reality, on the bumpy shores of the Atlantic, discussions of mutiny quickly began to surface.

Decades later, a few of the surviving members reunite on a makeshift replica of the Acali to discuss their unique experiences, their frustrations, and their bonds. Blending in some incredible archival footage with fascinating testimonials, The Raft gives an insight into one of the most surreal experiments ever to take place.

Feb 6 | 6:00 PM | Parkside
810 Humboldt St

Seder-Masochism features boisterous and unforgettable musical numbers with artists ranging from The Beatles to Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin. Biblical in scope and content, these musical interludes cover such topics as industrial circumcision, the plagues, and The Exodus with over-the-top hilarity and thoughtful criticism of the rise of patriarchal religious systems and the destruction of the mother goddess tradition.

Sgaawaay K’uuna
(Edge of the Knife)

Feb 6 | 6:00 PM | Dave Dunnet Theatre
2121 Cadboro Bay Rd

In SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), a tragic accident at sea triggers a series of events that threatens to tear apart two extended Haida families. Based on the Haida story of Gaagiixiid the “wildman,” the film explores how forces of the supernatural and human worlds can collide under the right set of circumstances.

The film follows the story of two close friends, Adiits’ii and Kwa, whose families are together at their summer fishing camp. Just days before packing up and heading to their permanent village, Adiits’ii decides to take Kwa’s young son out on the ocean for an impromptu fishing trip. The natural ebb and flow of daily life in the fishing camp are shattered as the families deal with the aftermath of that decision.



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