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Film Vancouver International Film Festival to open with Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour

Director Atom Egoyan, seen here at the Venice Film Festival, will screen his feature Guest of Honour at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival.

Joel C Ryan/The Associated Press

This year’s Vancouver International Film Festival will open with Atom Egoyan’s feature Guest of Honour. The film, about a complicated father-daughter relationship, had its world premiere in Venice on Tuesday, before screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. At VIFF, Egoyan will also deliver a master class.

VIFF announced its opening and closing films and other galas on Wednesday, as well as $1.4-million in federal funding, in an election year, for cultural infrastructure upgrades to VIFF’s Vancity Theatre. The renovations to the atrium will include a retractable microcinema and a VR Lounge. The work is scheduled to begin in February and conclude in time for next year’s festival.

“I personally am grateful to leave the organization … with this cornerstone of funding in place for this project,” said an emotional Jacqueline Dupuis, who is departing as VIFF’s executive director after this year’s event. (The province and city also supported the project.)

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This year’s festival will screen more than 300 films, including 90 Canadian features and shorts; 48 of which were made by female directors and nearly 20 per cent by Indigenous directors, according to Curtis Woloschuk, VIFF’s associate director of programming.

“These statistics aren’t offered or intended to be some sort of declaration of mission accomplished; rather, I see them as assurances of the genuine efforts that are being made,” Wolschuk said at the launch.

VIFF’s B.C. Spotlight Gala will be the world premiere of Anthony Shim’s Daughter, a Vancouver-set feature starring Vancouver-based actor John Cassini as a grieving father.

VIFF’s closing film will be French director Nicolas Bedos’s La belle époque, a high-concept romantic comedy in which an aging cartoonist employs a service that allows him to re-experience the night he met his wife.

Other films announced for VIFF Wednesday include Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn, Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You and Vaclav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird, based on the iconic 1965 novel by Jerzy Kosinski.

It will also screen 63 Up, the latest instalment in director Michael Apted’s groundbreaking Up documentary series, which has followed the lives of a group of British children since 1964, beginning with Seven Up!. Apted, who has directed all of the films in the series except for the first, will also give a talk at the festival.

VIFF previously announced what it says is the largest showcase of East Asian cinema outside of that region, including the North American premieres of Gu Xiaogang’s Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, Tom Waller’s The Cave and Lou Ye’s The Shadow Play.

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Previously announced Canadian films include Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum and the world premiere of the Okanagan-set Ash, director Andrew Huculiak’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Violent. Charles Wilkinson’s documentary Haida Modern, about Haida artist Robert Davidson, will also have its world premiere at VIFF. Marie Clements’s first narrative feature, Red Snow, will also premiere at the festival.

Other highlights include an expanded VIFF Live program, with a live edition of the podcast Song Exploder. Public Enemy founder Chuck D will dissect Fight the Power from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which marks its 30th anniversary this year.

VIFF’s AMP summit, which looks at the crucial role music plays in film and TV, will feature talks by composers and music supervisors including former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez (Drive), Jeff Russo (TV’s Fargo) and Jen Malone (Atlanta).

This year’s festival, which runs Sept. 26 to Oct. 11.

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