Survival and revenge in The Revenant, Italian films old and new and Canada’s 10 Best

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Also, Hurt, the documentary about Steve Fonyo, the cancer victim who completed a run like Terry Fox tried and followed it with years of personal and legal problems. The camera is there for some remarkably grotty scenes and the film is just as much of a portrait of Surrey’s Walley neighborhood as of this one guy.

My Internship in Canada is a funny spoof of local and national politics in Quebec (and includes a hilarious Steven Harper-like Prime Minister). 

The Forbidden Room is the latest, and probably best, from Guy Maddin and crammed with his usual funny, trippy surrealism.

Into The Forest has Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood as sisters sitting out a long power outage somewhere out our way and reconsidering their place in the world. Patricia Rozema, the director will do a live video Q&A when it screens Saturday.   

The Demons is a chiller from Quebec that got very good notices at the Whistler Film Festival. I’ll write about it when it returns for a longer run later this month.   

The opening film is Ninth Floor, Mina Shum’s documentary revival of an event most of us have forgotten about, or never known. Back in 1969 at Sir George Williams University in Montreal, a group of students from Trinidad accused a biology professor of racism. They claimed he gave them lower marks than white students. The university struck a committee to investigate but never got to it because there were disputes, resignations, administration bungling, impassioned speeches at rallies and the spectre of black power drifting in from the US. Students occupied the computer centre (on the 9th floor) and eventually somebody set it on fire. It’s still not known who or why but other details are revealed in this compelling documentary through archival footage and new interviews with some of the participants. One is now in the Canadian Senate. Another became a Prime Minister in the Caribbean. Mina Shum will introduce the film Friday. 

I’d say the must-see film in the series is Guantanamo's Child: Omar Khadr. A shorter version has already been on TV.


The former child soldier who spent a decade in Guantanamo and was demonized far and wide is allowed his freedom (albeit with an ankle bracelet) as the film opens and adjusts to life outside. In subsequent interviews he reveals himself as a personable young man and not at all bitter. That alone is an eye-opener, although his lawyer warns there will be other moods when he finds himself alone and pondering his history. The film lays it all out: born in Toronto, taken to Afghanistan, caught up in a firefight at age 14, possibly lobbing that grenade that killed a US soldier, severely injured but kept alive and taken to Gitmo for interrogation, which is described in graphic detail. An ex-interrogator now regrets what was done to him but a Canadian agent from CSIS is supremely unhelpful in some video taken during a visit. Khadr’s mother talks in both that niqab-wearing interview that outaged people and now without covering her face.

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ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL: This annual festival is back for a third edition at the VanCity Theatre and offers the convenience of multiple screenings for their most popular films. So, The Dinner, a hit at VIFF, screens twice and Abel Ferrara’s drama about director Pier Paolo Pasolini, starring William Dafoe, screens three times.

As usual this is a mixture of new films and classics. Chief among those is Bernardo Bertolucci’s dazzling political thriller The Conformist and Pasolini’s version of The Arabian Nights.  

The opener this year is Latin Lover a pleasant-enough comedy that won’t stretch your mind too much but does have some fun for movie fans.


The title character was a popular movie actor who made films and fathered children in five countries. He’s played by Francesco Scianna in mock clips from his work. They parrot a wide-range of styles, including spaghetti westerns and are shown at a memorial 10 years after his death. Two wives are there (one played by Virna Lisi in her last screen appearance) but sadly not the woman who’s often referred to as “the American slut.”  Several daughters do show up and we get a comedy of manners, pretensions and national stereotypes. When one has sex with another’s husband she says “I can’t help it. I’m Swedish.” There are jibes at movie folks and celebrity culture but little that sticks very long. The festival offers a buffet and a glass of wine before the film and at a special price you can make it a double bill by staying for one of Fellini’s early films, I Vitelloni. There’s more information at or

More in New Movies

Angry history in Official Secrets, dubious flash in Hustlers and a muddle in The Goldfinch

VIFF has just added this: Michael Moore will be here to show and give a creator talk about the film that made his career: Roger and Me. It was the most popular documentary where it premiered at VIFF...

VIFF announces the opener, closer and a very promising schedule for this year’s festival

A scene from Parasite, the Cannes winner that will be also screen at VIFF
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