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British Columbia VIFF Tipsheet: Wild opens festival, and a chance to honour a legend

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.

The 33rd Vancouver International Film Festival opens with more than two-dozen films Thursday. They will include the opening gala Wild, an adaptation of the best-selling memoir of Cheryl Strayed directed by Canada's own Jean-Marc Vallee and starring Reese Witherspoon.

One to Watch: Wild (3 stars)

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann

Genre: Drama

Year: 2014

Country: USA

Language: English

Showtime: Centre for Performing Arts, 6:30 p.m.

VIFF guide page

To retrieve the wreckage of a life shattered by grief, addiction and depleted self-respect, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) decides to hike the more than 1,000-mile Pacific Crest Trail solo. Along the way, the demons of the past are confronted along with the perils of the present: storms, snakes, snow and skeevy backpackers. Jean-Marc Vallée's vividly visceral adaptation of Strayed’s memoir, scripted by Nick Hornby, may fall a little heavily on the side of obvious metaphor, but as a cinematic narrative of one-step-at-a-time soul recovery, it’s exhilarating. And possibly Hollywood’s most feminist movie of the year. – Geoff Pevere

(John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

VIFF founder finally takes a bow

Wild will eventually be in theatres. Opening night at the Centre at 777 Homer St. will have a magic moment that won’t: the induction of Leonard Schein into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame.

It is amazing that one man has had such an impact on filmgoing in one place. Begin with VIFF itself: Mr. Schein founded the Vancouver film festival in 1982. For more than 35 years, he also ran movie theatres in Vancouver including the Fifth Avenue Cinemas, The Ridge and The Park – cinemas that often allowed filmgoers a menu beyond basic Hollywood fare.

Schein is the former executive director of the Toronto International Film Festival and also served as director of English-language films at the Montreal World Film Festival.

In recent years, Mr. Schein retired from film exhibition. His induction at VIFF this year will allow him to take a well-deserved bow.

So, before going Wild, VIFF filmgoers will have an opportunity to pay a well-deserved tribute to a godfather of local cinema exhibition – well timed before the lights go down and the first gala of the 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival begins.

Big in Cannes

Later Thursday night, VIFF filmgoers can also get a first look at Foxcatcher, which won director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) a Best Director Award at Cannes. The acclaimed film stars Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carrell (as you’ve never seen him before) as John Du Pont, wealthy heir to the chemical-company fortune of the same name who was convicted of murder in 1997 in the death of an Olympic-champion wrestler.

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