Victoria Film Festival Junkie

posted on February 7, 2011 by Ian MacPhee

February.  For some it's a month centered around that romantic event, Valentine's Day. For other's the highlight is the Superbowl and it's very funny commercials. Those in N'Awlins celebrate Mardi Gras but  I've discovered a new passion - The Victoria Film Festival - and this year I've got a FILM pass and I'm out to see a many films as I can.  The 17th annual VFF runs from Feb 4-13th with over 160 films from countries all over the world.   

Luckily February is quiet at Abbeymoore Manor so I'll be able to see several films a night and even sleep in a few days! I've got Anne and Michelle's support and my good friend Rob bought a pass too. Michelle jokes that we''ll be out "Bro-mancing" on our "Man Dates"  lol!

I'll be updating my plans daily as the buzz grows about "must see" films and I'll tweet from @InnkeeperIan from time to time.  If you are looking for reviews or suggestions check back often!

Gotta go as the curtain's rising!



Feb 4th
First up was the opening Gala event which featured a screening of "The Chef of the South Polar"  This was great film telling the story of eight Japanese researchers living at Dome Fuji station 1000km inland. Avg temp runs about -50C and it's too cold for even a virus to survive. What happens when all the ramen noodles are gone you ask? Well you'll have to see for yourself as there's a second showing on Wed Feb 9th. 

My rating  - 4 out of 5

Feb 5th
Busy day at the festival with 4 films on my list.  First up was:

Blame - an Australia suspense film about 5 friends who plot and execute a revenge killing with unanticipated results.   Don't want to give too much away but the way the plot unfolded and twisted made this a film I really enjoyed.

My rating 5 out of 5

A screenshot from the Australian movie Blame


My Brothers - Enjoyable Irish film about a dying dad, hurling bullies, geeky kids and a stolen bread van. At times poignant and humourus this film is definately worthy of a viewing.

My rating 4 out of 5

Lesson Plan - Popular documentary about a controversial socialogical teaching experiment fro the 60's which showed how easy it is to influence human behaviour using mob mentality. Fascinating to watch the "survivors' recall the experience.

My rating 4 out of 5

Alas after 3 films I've run out of steam!

Feb 6th
Hmmn - it's Superbowl Sunday and while I'm not a "sports" guy I do have family in town who are so it's a delicate balance between movies and football.  First up

Whirligig - My first Canadian Film of this yrs festival. Great lil' film set in the east coast all about a slacker child who flees from his latest personal disaster to take refuge in his parent’s home.  I have to say I really enjoyed the tale which features everything from archery to adultery with agrow op thrown in for fun.

My rating 4 out of 5

Whirligig Banner


Applause - Stark Danish film about an alcoholic stage actress who is trying to regain custody of her kids despite not really having her "act" together.  The way the film blends the real life story with the on screen play was brilliant and the acting was tremendous.  Typical ambiguous Euro ending to a "non-uplifting" film may be difficult for some but the opportunity to watch a film that wasn't dedicated to "beautiful people"  was worth it.

My Rating 4 out of 5

Feb 7th
Monogamy - Brooklyn based Theo is a wedding photographer who Photo Stalks clients at their request. When a beautiful, mysterious woman hires him he "sees" more than expected.  Great cast and an ending that makes you realize that what you see may not always be real.  Great film.

My rating 5 out of 5

Into Eternity - Wow - 300,000 tons of nuclear reactor waste exists already and it's gonna be radioactive for 100,000 years. So - what do you do with it? You bury it of course! 5Kms down in the finnish bedrock at Onkalo. How do you ensure that 50,000 yrs in the future no one digs it up thinking it's treasure. Well that's the question isn't it?

My Rating 3 out of 5 - just cuz it's so depressing

Feb 8th
WAR - Women Art Revolution - So - how many woman artists can you name? Well now I can name quite a few after seeing this interesting documentary about the Women's Artist Movement.  Educational and interesting with great footage of American politicians being outraged over Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party"

View of The Dinner Party

My Rating 4 out of 5

Feb 9th
The Bone Man - Really amusing and twisty film about an Austrian Repo man, Eastern bloc gangsters, stupid offspring and more!  Possibly my pick of the festival!

My rating - 5 out of 5

Gotta pick up the pace as I've seen only 10 films in 6 days so far......

Feb 10th- Documentary night?
The Market - Eye opening documentary about the illegal (sort of) organ trade in India nicely juxtaposed against the story of a Nanaimo woman in need of a kidney transplant. Fun to watch the scenes of Victoria too!

My rating 4 out of 5

Make Believe - get ready to applaud now as the story of teenage magicians from around the globe warms your heart and makes you shake your head at the talent. You have another chance to see this film on Sat Feb 12th so don't miss it

My rating 5 out of 5

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls - well I almost ran out of steam but thankfully I held true and caught doc #3 tonight and woooweee what a movie!  Yodeling, singing, lesbian twin farm girls and political activists with talent out the ying yang! Funny, real and magical. 

Topp Twins on the telly

Sadly I can only give this a 5 out of 5!

Ok so thats now 13 films in 7 days!

Feb 11th
Just one show tonight and it's Kevin Spacey's Casino Jack. The story of superlobbyist Jack Abramhof and his nefarious deeds.  Entertaining, well made and definately Hollywood, this film had the biggest draw since the gala opening. Definately a worthy viewing but not my favourite so far.

My Rating 4 out of 5

Feb 12th
After 14 films in 8 days I spent today catching up at home/work and didn't attend any films  :)

Feb 13th
OK - so today's the last day of the festival and there's lots I want to see.....First up:

Out of the Ashes - This beautifully poignant film about the road the determined Afghan National Cricket Team followed in their attempt to win a place at the 2011 Cricket World Cup is a perfect example of why I love the film festival.  Here's a film I'd never heard of, telling a story that drew me in and had me rooting for the underdog the whole way through.  Following the story of Taj Malik and the team through 4 world cup qualifying matches only to meet Canada in the deciding game was riveting.  Go see this film if you can! 

My Rating 5 out of 5

Fathers & Sons - This follow up film to the popular "Mothers and Daughters" was a riot. Multiple storylines about dysfunctional relationships had me rolling in the aisle.  Jay Brazeau and Ben Ratner's vodka fueled knife fight was priceless "Was good knife fight -no?" and Majood Sood's (Babar on Little Mosque on the Prarie) portrayal of a gay Bollywood choreographer couldn't have been funnier or more heartwarming.  In a festival full of highs and lows, docs and dramas this rollicking charmer gets my vote for best 2 hours spent.

Ben Ratner (left) and Jay Brazeau in Father and Sons. The film is opening the Canadian program at the 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival. - Ben Ratner (left) and Jay Brazeau in Father and Sons. The film is opening the Canadian program at the 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival.

My Rating 5 out of 5

COW - Hailed by critics as "Dynamic, Creative and Provocative" this chinese film about a peasant villager tasked with the safekeeping of a prize dairy cow just didn't grab me.  Part camp, part drama all in a dreary sepia tone I just wasn't into this one. Judging from those around me I wasn't alone.

My rating 2 out of 5

Small Town Murder Songs - The last film of the festival, and my 18th film in 9 days, was an uneven but interesting story of a murder of a young woman in a small Ontario town. Threads of past violence, strong religion and redemption were woven through the storyline yet several things were left unresolved and the ending wrapped too quickly for my tastes.  Strong actors and beautiful filmography were a plus as was a thumping soundtrack.

My rating 3 out of 5 


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