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VIFF: last chance to catch a spirited drama and three documentaries

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Trailer for Belgium's "Come As You Are", about a trio of men off on a road trip to lose their virginity at a brothel catering to special needs clients.

Three great documentaries and a drama are playing in the last two days of the 31st Vancouver International Film Festival. 

Come As You Are: This one is true crowd-pleaser – it won several Audience Awards in the festival circuit. It focuses on three Belgian young men with disabilites: Jozef (Tom Audenaert), who is nearly blind and needs a magnifying glass to read, raunchy with zest of life, Philip (Robrecht Vanden Thoren), who is paraplegic, and Lars (Gilles De Schryver), who is in a wheelchair due to a terminal illness.

The three amigos concoct a plan to drive off to Spain: they are determined to lose their virginity at a brothel that caters men with special needs. An unexpected setback almost puts the halt on a trip, but they went on with the plan.

The peculiar trio enlist a caretaker/driver for the road, Claude, who becomes  (undeservedly) the target of Philip and Lars' hostility. However, for their own sake and of the trip, the boys apologize and the real fun starts embarking to a journey with unexpected twists that goes beyond learning more about their bodies but about life, friendship and loss.

This coming of age tale was inspired in the life of UK-based Astrad Philbota, an advocate for the right to an active sexual life for people with disabilities, who visited a brothel with wheelchair access in Spain.

Persistence of Vision –A sort of the “Lost in La Mancha” of the animated variety.

The documentary features an unfinished project by Canadian-British animation legend Richard “Dick” Williams a two-time Academy Award-winner for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and also worked on two Pink Panther films. Williams wanted to accomplished something that nobody had done in animation.

His project was something that could only be compared as “Lawrence of Arabia". In 1964, Williams started to work in this epic project based on Arabian Nights. The film was tentatively entitled Mullah Nusredin, the name of a Quixote-like Arabic wise man.

Williams worked with an army of young  artists during about three decades, but a catastrophe was looming on his project: going over budget, some production difficulties and deadlines that were not timely fullfiled. Finally, in 1992, the insurance company seized most of the material – and the dream was lost.

Filmmaker Kevin Schreck includes extensive footage of Williams –but none of him in present life: he refuses to talk about his failed project and was absent in the documentary. However, the gist of the story is offered by close witnesses -- then young animators, those who worked shoulder by shoulder, endless hours in Williams’ studio and helped drawing by hand what was meant to be an monumental, unique work of art. (Oct 12, Pacific Cinemateque).

The Invisible Ones: Director Sébastien Lifshitz travels to the beautiful country side of France to profile of elder homosexual men and women to tell their struggles while growing up in an then still uptight society that shunned anyone for being”different” until the days of the sexual liberation. Lifshitz discover some of subjects as pioneers not only fighting the system seeking equality, refusing to hide and remain invisible, but also sparking the women’s pro-choice movement in France.

Through interviews with gay and lesbian couples and other men and women who have remained single, The Invisible Ones reflects on the process of self-discovery and acceptance as well through its subjects, as well as the importance of activism to change lives. (Oct 12, Granville 4)

The Sound of the Bandoneon

The Sound of the Bandoneon: The bandoneon, the poor people’s instrument, arrived in Argentina with the first wave of German immigrants in the late 1880’s. Argentineans made it its own, and the melancholic sound became the fiber of their national spirit, thus tango was born and rose to fame worldwide.

Ironically, in Germany, bandoneons were played in churches, while tango originated in brothels. However, these days bandoneones are in danger of extinction: tourists take them away as souvenirs or they are sold through the black market. There are also less and less of these instruments being manufactured.

Dutch director Jiska Rickele follows bandoneon figures such as Nestor Marconi  one of the most renowned 'bandeonistas' in Argentina. Meanwhile, in Jujuy, in the countryside in Argentina where the bandoneon has been incorporated into folkloric music, popular musician Daniel Vedia teaches people how to play the soulful instrument. ( Vancity Theatre , Oct. 11)

 Check VIFF’s website for added screenings and post-fest repeats (Oct 13-18) at the Vancity Theatre.




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