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The Vancouver International Film Festival will mark its closing with an in-cinema screening of Petite Maman, the latest from French director Céline Sciamma.

VIFF

The Vancouver International Film Festival will present its full slate of films in-person this year, for its 40th festival. Most films will be available to watch online as well.

All those attending in-person screenings will need to follow COVID-19 protocols, including showing proof of vaccination. Registration for the BC Vaccine Card began this week.

The festival lineup, announced Wednesday, includes more than 110 feature films – 75 per cent of which will be available to be streamed throughout the province. Most of those will also be available across the country via the VIFF Connect app.

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VIFF executive director Kyle Fostner says he believes there is a growing group of people who are ready to return to the theatre.

VIFF’s 40th edition will officially open with an in-cinema screening of the inventive biopic The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, from U.K. director Will Sharpe.

Jaap Buitendijk/VIFF

“The option ... needs to exist for you to come back if you’re ready, because we need this now. Culturally, as an organization and as a community we need to have some kind of statement of intent around returning to cultural activity and to cinema,” Fostner says, pointing out that two local independent theatres, the Rio and the Cinematheque, have already been open for some time and attracting audiences.

The festival opens Oct. 1 with The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, directed by Will Sharpe. The U.K. biopic stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Victorian artist who became famous for his drawings of anthropomorphized cats.

VIFF closes Oct. 11 with the French film Petite Maman directed by Céline Sciamma.

Other highlights include screenings of All My Puny Sorrows, based on the Miriam Toews novel; Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast; and Zhang Yimou’s One Second, which was pulled from the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 at the last minute. The Chinese film, set during the Cultural Revolution, is also screening at the Toronto International Film Festival this year.

On the industry side, online events include master classes with Mare of Easttown director Craig Zobel and The Suicide Squad editor Fred Raskin, as well as a talk by The Green Knight’s production designer Jade Healy.

The festival will also expand its in-person presence geographically, with screenings at theatres in two other B.C. cities, Powell River and Terrace.

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Zhang Yimou’s One Second, which was pulled from the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 at the last minute.

BAIXIAOYAN/VIFF

“I think the minute I see an audience member or 100 audience members watching a VIFF film at the festival, in-cinema, will be a victory. I think it’s an important moment for our organization and I think it’s an important moment for our communities to get back out there,” says Fostner, who adds that VIFF is in better shape than some other local cultural organizations – and he’s concerned.

“We need to show support right now for arts and culture, because I think a lot of our fellow organizations are on life support. They’re struggling for their very survival and I think we need to get back out there and put our time and energy into the arts to show that they’re important,” he says. “I think it’s critical that we show our love now so they can be there tomorrow.”

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