For even the most seasoned film buffs, it can be a daunting task: From more than 365 films and 70 countries, choose which Vancouver International Film Festival films to see over the next two weeks – bearing in mind that you still need to eat (more than popcorn), sleep (more than movie nod-offs), and likely work (more than while waiting in line).
So where to begin? According to VIFF executive director Jacqueline Dupuis, the theme-based series are an excellent start, and this year's offerings include The Great Divide, a series of films that tackle an economic hot topic – income inequality – as well as Gentle On My Mind, which comprises films about a disease that affects millions: Alzheimer's. (One of the most high-profile is Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, which chronicles the country legend's battle with the illness and his remarkable Goodbye Tour.)
The Style In Film Series includes six fashionable films, among them a sneak preview of Yves Saint Laurent, a narrative feature about the fashion icon that premiered at Cannes, and Advanced Style, which tells the story of New York "glam-mas" – women in their 60s, 70s and 80s who prove style has no expiry date.
Those looking for a local twist can also check out the BC Spotlight Series, which showcases 13 films from Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, which follows filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer as they subsist for six months off food tossed in the trash by restaurants and grocers, to Violent, a music-inspired feature film by We Are the City drummer Andrew Huculiak that's winning raves.
Other films that have landed high on Ms. Dupuis' list of must-sees? Uberto Pasolini's Still Life, which won a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival; Nas: Time is Illmatic, a doc about the veteran rapper; local filmmaker Ana Valine's Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, which won two Leos and has been generating big buzz; and Kristen Wiig's Welcome To Me, which features the SNL star as a bipolar woman who wins the lottery and starts a hilarious variety show that's all about her.
Ms. Dupuis also recommends God Help The Girl, a musical that looks at how trends develop; Clouds of Sils Maria, the latest from Olivier Assayas starring Juliette Binoche; The Riot Club, which takes down elite English university societies; and the world premiere of The Vancouver Asahi, about the legendary Japanese baseball team.
And for those who are still unsure about venturing into VIFF, Ms. Dupuis recommends the special presentations. "They often cross over from independent into Hollywood, so they are sort of 'safe' for people who love movies but they're not sure they like films," Ms. Dupuis says. "But there isn't really a difference. It's just about finding the films that you're going to love."
The Vancouver International Film Festival runs through Oct. 10, and includes Q&As with directors and actors, parties and more (viff.org). For more help making selections, also visit VIFF's microsite, plentyoffilms.com.