Ed’s Top 10 Picks of the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival


By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

The 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival starts today and their selection of animated films and nerdy delights is fantastic! From a few television spotlights to films, this year’s event is of particular interest to me because the industry is paying attention to the coming thing  — virtual reality. From an industry exchange and VR pass to a discussion on how it affects storytelling in a cinematic medium, I am interested. This new technology to immerse audiences into a virtual world is challenging, and just how storytellers and filmmakers can use the medium certainly needs to be discussed. Does the story work like a choose-your-own-adventure book or is the narrative just that much more difficult to curtail? If the viewer is in total control, they can navigate anywhere. This industry panel will certainly explore it all for much of the day.

With a unique catalog of horror and animation films, I just wonder if I can see it all? or will I have to limit what my budget can allow? At least I have this top ten list of what I has my eye in this year’s programme:

Expanding Frontiers in Storytelling: Virtual Reality

Tuesday, Oct 4 10:00am to 5:00pm — Presented by Creative BC, the Expanding Frontiers in Storytelling series will transport attendees into the new mediums of VR and AR, with key insights from some of the most respected futurists in the world as well as conversations and demos from leading VR creators, companies, technologists and distributors. This is a must-attend series for anyone looking to understand or hoping to capitalize on this transformational medium and is completely appropriate for everyone from new filmmakers to the most experienced.

The program includes a keynote from Ted Schilowitz, the Futurist at 20th Century Fox Studios and Chief Creative Officer at Barco Escape, who is helping guide the studio and film industry into the next breakthroughs in storytelling for mass audience consumption; as well as a series of talks, panels and presentations from leading VR companies, distributors and creators, with highlighted case studies, and important discussions on business models, distribution and looks at where the new opportunities are. Live demonstrations across the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Gear VR, will also be running throughout the day for participant sampling.


Tatiana Maslany
Oct 1  12:30pm at Rio Theatre — In conversation with Emmy award winning Tatiana Maslany, star and producer of The Other Half, which screens at VIFF. Maslany stars in the Canadian science-fiction thriller series Orphan Black and has received widespread critical acclaim for her performance, winning two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, a TCA Award, and three Canadian Screen Awards, in addition to receiving Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations.

Van Helsing with
 Simon Davis Barry
01 October 1 6:00pm at Vancity Theatre

Join Vancouver executive producer Simon Davis Barry (Continuum) for a screening of the premiere episode of Van Helsing, the hot new Syfy series about a female vampire hunter on a mission to save the world, followed by a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this sure-to-be-blockbuster series. Van Helsing was shot in Vancouver this past year.


Another Evil
01 October 11:45pm at Rio Theatre
08 October 11:15am at International Village 10

Who says that alcohol and exorcism don’t mix? Certainly not Os (Mark Proksch), the booze-swilling gonzo ghostbuster who’s hired to rid Dan’s (Steve Zissis) home of a sinister presence but seems preoccupied with his personal demons. Just as Proksch elevates Os’ account of a “pretty gnarly” memory into a Jaws-calibre monologue, Carson Mell’s horror-comedy evolves into a chilling cautionary tale about dismissing a delusional man at our own peril. “Beautifully written, funny and awkward…” — Sight & Sound

The Girl with All the Gifts
09 October 9:30pm at The Centre
12 October 9:15pm at Rio Theatre

The zombie genre hasn’t felt this alive since 28 Days Later! With much of humanity transformed into flesh-eating predators, a teacher (Gemma Arterton) and a scientist (Glenn Close) believe they may have found the key to survival in Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a bright young girl who’s also a “hungry.” When they’re flushed out of hiding, Colm McCarthy ratchets up the tension while fleshing out the human drama in wildly unpredictable ways. “Smartly compelling, emotionally engaging and stylishly executed…” —Screen


The Love Witch
07 October 8:45pm at Rio Theatre
09 October 1:30pm at International Village

Set in a Technicolor fantasia and fuelled by delirium, this is the sordid tale of Elaine (Samantha Robinson, seemingly discovered in a 1960s-era time capsule alongside the lavish sets and costumes), a woman who’s looking for love and willing to dabble in the dark arts to attain it. “[Anna Biller’s] film pulsates with furious creative energy throughout, sparking excitement and giddy amazement that it even exists… The astounding humor of The Love Witch often ascends to intentional hysteria.” — New Yorker

She’s Allergic to Cats
08 October 11:00pm at Rio Theatre
12 October 8:45pm at The Cinematheque

Funded by his work as a Daft Punk body double, former dog groomer/video artist Michael Reich’s certifiably demented debut is the tale of a Hollywood dog groomer/video artist (Michael Pinkney) harbouring big-screen ambitions: an all-cat remake of Carrie. Habitually drifting into a fever dream that mimics his garish, lo-fi video work, he finds new purpose when he meets Cora (Sonja Kinski). However, his odyssey grows all the more surreal… “A must-see piece of alt-comedy weirdness.” — Birth.Movies.Death

The Laughing Spider
01 October 3:30pm at The Cinematheque
03 October 9:15pm at The Cinematheque

A psychedelic fantasmagoria from Japan’s greatest veteran animator Warau Kumo, based on childhood memories of air-raids.


The Red Turtle
01 October 2:30pm at The Centre
06 October 6:15pm at Vancouver Playhouse

A marvellous, dialogue-free slice of animated poetry, this collaboration between Dutch Oscar-winner (for the animated short Father and Daughter) Michael Dudok de Wit and Japan’s Studio Ghibli gives us a Robinson Crusoe-like man, stranded on a desert isle, whose adventures delve deep into the allegorical and fantastic… “A fable so simple, so pure, it feels as if it has existed for hundreds of years, like a brilliant shard of sea glass rendered smooth and elegant through generations of retelling.” — Variety

Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming)
30 September 6:15pm at Vancouver Playhouse
03 October 3:45pm at International Village 9

Ann Marie Fleming’s Window Horses, a beautifully narrated and colourfully animated story of a young girl’s journey, employs poetry, music and illustration to celebrate the value of self-discovery. After being invited to a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran, by a mysterious figure, Rosie Ming faces challenges that ultimately lead to her self-realization. The film’s superb voice cast includes festival veterans Sandra Oh, Don McKellar and Ellen Page.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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