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VIFF films to watch this week: thrillers, documentaries and a great film on Chinatown

Screen still from The Womb

With hundreds of films participating at the Vancouver International Film Festival, the challenge for many festival-goers is deciding which films to see. Here are a few picks: four international movies and one by a Vancouver filmmaker that reflects on the changing face of Chinatown.

The Womb (Peru): What would a woman do to have a child? Daniel Rodríguez Risco brings a terrifying answer that makes for a intense, slow-building thriller. 
Mercedes (Mayella Lloclla) is a young and naïve orphan woman working in a slaughterhouse. She accepts an offer to work as a maid for Silvia (a terrific Vanessa Saba). Silvia is a 45-year-old, psychologically disturbed and childless widow, who also provides Mercedes with a room at her house.
However, Silvia has something sinister in mind -- she manipulates Mercedes to seduce Jaime (Manuel Gold), a  backpacker who works as a handyman for her and lives in her house. Before long, Mercedes is pregnant, and the once-protective Silvia shows her through colours, employing the most  terrifying methods to get the baby which she believes belongs to her.  Expect to see some blood.  (Sept 29, International Village 9 3:30: Oct 1, International Village 5:45 pm, Oct 3, 3:00, International Village).


Marmato (Colombia, US)  

Mark Grieco’s explores  the gold mines of Marmato -- also known as the cradle of gold of Colombia. The focus of the film is a small town in the northwest of the country which has been sustained the lives of the locals for 500 years. But when a Canadian mining company arrives to set an open pit mine to extract the gold that lies underneath the town  (valued 20 billion dollars), it mobilizes the locals to protest, causing civil unrest. The documentary contrasts the beauty of the green landscape and mountains with the harshness of the mines,  while giving voice to the miners.

Sept 28,  SFU Woodward Building   9:00;  Sep 29 ,SFU Woodward Building, 1:15; Oct 2, Rio Theatre, 2:00 pm.


Everything Will Be (Canada): Two decades ago, Chinatown was a vibrant neighbourhood flowing with people and business. But with the influx of businesses to other areas like Richmond, old Chinatown has started to change -- there are now more development projects, more non-Chinese businesses coming in. Vancouver-based director Julia Kwan tries to capture the voices of old neighbourhood, resulting in a visually remarkable documentary that explores this changing neighbourhood through the eyes of the old and new residents.

Some welcome change, while others look to the past with nostalgia.  Memorable subjects include a vivacious  90-year old  woman who sells newspapers on the sidewalk, an old Italian grocery shop owner, a security guard nicknamed “Fat Dragon” and Bob Rennie, a real estate marketing specialist who purchased the oldest building in Chinatown to turn it into a private museum. Sept 29th, SFU Woodwards Building 9:00 pm; Oct 1 SFU Woodwards Building, 11:00 am, Oct 03, International Village 9, 10.30 am.


How Did I Get To Hate Math (France) Sounds familiar?  French director Olivier Peyon attempts to tackle the issue at hand with a documentary that delves on the beauty, the complexity and the mystery of mathematics. 

Starting with teenagers expressing  their dislike for this science, Peyon  goes on a  hunt around the world – France, Switzerland, Germany, India, United States to gather testimonies of teachers, professors, mathematicians math prodigies  and  computer engineers  who share a passion about math and how it affects our lives on a daily basis.

The documentary offers a plethora of information, and might reignite a renewed interest for math. What it doesn't do so well is to solve the mystery of why so many people dislike the subject.  (Sept 28 SFU Woodward Building at 4:00 pm and Sept 29 International Village 9 at 9:00 pm)


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