The Vancouver International Film Festival will open this year with Alexander Payne's father-son road trip drama Nebraska, as the festival itself journeys down the road with a move to new venues after the loss of the multiplex that has served as its hub.
The lineup for the 32nd edition of VIFF was announced in Vancouver on Wednesday. More than 340 films will be screened (more than 200 of which are features) from 75 countries; more than 90 films are Canadian or Canadian co-productions.
With the loss of the Granville 7, where the majority of VIFF's films have screened for the last several years, the festival will spread out to the east. As previously reported by The Globe and Mail, this year's venues will include International Village Cinemas, the Vancouver Playhouse, SFU Woodward's, the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts and, further east, the Rio Theatre as a satellite venue. While the festival will maintain a presence downtown – the Vancity Theatre and the Cinematheque will still serve as venues – Gastown will become a key neighbourhood for the festival.
"It's a really exciting, vibrant part of the city and I think it'll be a great marriage to bring an exciting, vibrant festival into the area," said Jacqueline Dupuis, executive director of the Vancouver International Film Festival Society, in an interview earlier this summer.
The Canadian Images program will open with a gala screening of Gia Milani's All the Wrong Reasons, starring Cory Monteith in one of his final roles. The Calgary-born and B.C.-raised Glee star, 31, died in Vancouver in July.
"I was blown away," said Milani of Monteith's performance in an interview shortly after his death. "Because I hadn't seen him in a dramatic role before, and I felt sure he could handle it but then he really, really could. He's really intense and gives this amazing, layered performance."
Another beloved Vancouver actor, Babz Chula, is remembered in two films to be screened at the festival. Anne Wheeler's documentary Chi follows Chula and Wheeler to India, where Chula hopes to find a cure for her cancer. Benjamin Ratner's feature Down River – described as a film about mentorship, companionship, living life to the fullest and ultimately letting go – was inspired by his long-time friendship with Chula, who died in 2010. Down River will have its world premiere at the B.C. Spotlight Gala on Oct. 5.
Jia Zhangke's A Touch of Sin, a China/Japan co-production, will screen at the Dragons & Tigers gala.
The festival will close with Arie Posin's The Face of Love, a romantic comedy starring Robin Williams and Annette Bening.
A highlight of the festival will be an appearance by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan on Sept. 27, just two nights before the hotly anticipated series finale airs. The event, part of the VIFF Film and Television Forum (although held before the forum officially begins), sold out within hours and has been moved from the Rio Theatre to the much larger Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Gilligan will screen his favourite episode followed by a Q&A session.
VIFF runs Sept. 26 until Oct. 11.