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VIFF Tipsheet: This year’s top Cannes film, plus movie palaces in decline

The 2014 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival features more than 350 films from 70 countries over 16 days, plus post-screening Q&A sessions with actors, directors and writers. Each weekday and on the weekend, we'll provide highlights of the day ahead and One to Watch: a review of a film we recommend highly.

One to Watch: Winter Sleep (4/4 stars)

  • Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Starring: Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sozen
  • Genre: Drama
  • Year: 2014
  • Country: Turkey/France/Germany
  • Language: Turkish
  • Showtime: 8 p.m., Centre for Performing Arts

VIFF guide page

The Palme d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s masterful, engrossing drama is a portrait of a family group – a retired actor, his young wife and his divorced sister – who run a cave hotel amid the eerie rock formations of Cappadocia. Protagonist Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), a former theatre star, is a smug pedant and callous landlord, holding onto an empty marriage to a younger woman, Nihal (Melisa Sozen). Readers of 19th-century literature will recognize elements of Middlemarch, The Portrait of a Lady and, especially, the stories of Anton Chekhov, which inspired the script. – Liam Lacey

Xavier Dolan steps in front of the camera for a turn in Charles Binamé's Elephant Song

Buzzed-about new films hit local screens

Elsewhere Wednesday is the chance to see several films that have loomed large in previous festivals this year – one of the rewards of a festival like VIFF.

There’s Elephant Song, starring Xavier Dolan, one of the bright stars of Canadian film for his work as a director of such films as Mommy, which also played at VIFF, and an actor. In Song, he’s contributing as an actor in the Charles Binamé film. Dolan plays a psychiatric patient who is the last person who has seen his missing psychiatrist. Veteran actor Bruce Greenwood plays a hospital administrator who tries to sort things out. Elephant Song plays at the Vancouver Playhouse at 9 p.m.

See also Two Days, One Night from Belgium’s acclaimed Dardenne brothers, which has previously screened at such venues as Cannes. Oscar-winning Marion Cotillard plays a worker at a Belgian solar-panel factory set to be laid off unless she can convince her fellow workers to turn down bonuses offered from savings linked to her departure. See it at the Vancouver Playhouse at 1:30 p.m. This is the last time the movie is screening at VIFF.

And there’s Welcome in New York, director Abel Ferrara’s dramatic riff on the astonishing Dominique Strauss-Kahn story featuring Gerard Depardieu as a fictionalized version of the hapless former head of the International Monetary Fund. From all accounts, it’s a searing take on the material, but worthy of note. It plays Wednesday at the Vancouver Playhouse and wraps up its VIFF run on Oct. 3 at the Rio.

A brief look at movie palaces in decline

The Vancouver International Film Festival will come and go, but the sad demise of some of the city’s more venerable movie palaces will be a lingering sore point for some.

That makes Broken Palace worth a look. It won’t take long. Filmmaker Ross Munro's six-minute documentary – described as a “paen to Vancouver’s disappearing movie palaces” – is screening with Julian Kwan’s Everything Will Be, a film about changes affecting the culture and economy of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Documentaries from hard-to-reach places

Finally, two films intriguing enough to be worth a look. The Horses of Fukushima has had its Canadian premiere at VIFF and Wednesday is its last screening. It’s a documentary about the titular creatures that follows the rehabilitation of a stable injured in the 2011 tsunami. Much of the movie was filmed around the Fukushima nuclear plant’s exclusion zone. And there’s a rare documentary from from the Yukon, All The Time In The World, which is about a family retreating into the Yukon wilderness to find a simpler existence. The family – three young children and their parents – was that of director Suzanne Crocker.

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