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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

     Film Festival Snap Shots:

    Canadian films Top the Slots

     The Vancouver International Film Festival has announced that its 2003 Opening, Anniversary and Closing Gala films are an all Canadian tag-team of The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares), The Saddest Music In The World And The Snow Walker.

    “This is an unprecedented move for us,” Festival Director Alan Franey says, “and represents not a change in direction, but the seizing of a special opportunity. Our sense is that these three proudly and inimitably Canadian films beg to be put centre stage for the way they collectively celebrate not only the rich geographical and cultural breadth of this country, but the happy stylistic versatility of Canadian cinema today.”

    The September 25 Opening Gala, Denys Arcand’s Cannes multiple prize-winning The Barbarian Invasions is every inch Quebec and cosmopolitan, 1968 and now. As relatives, friends and lovers flock to the bedside of the ailing libertine Rémy, their facetious exchanges show that 17 years later The Decline of the American Empire – and the pleasure principal – continues. The film stars Marie-Josée Croze, who won Best Actress at Cannes this year for her performance, and Rémy Girard, Stéphane Rousseau and Pierre Curzi. The film is distributed by Odeon Films, an Alliance Atlantis company. The Opening Gala is sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc.

    The Anniversary Gala film on October 4, Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music In The World, is his most hilariously infectious fever dream yet, set in 1933 in a very dark and cold Depression-era Winnipeg. Isabella Rossellini plays glamorous beer baroness Lady Port-Huntly, who announces a contest that invites and catches the attention of the world, a competition to determine whom on earth most charms our ears with doleful song and lyric. In the heat of battle, the Kent family must confront the wretched secrets of their past. Joining Rossellini in the cast are Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox and Ross McMillan. Maddin’s films have been favourites with Vancouver audiences since his Tales from the Gimli Hospital was screened at the 1988 festival. TVA Films, a division of Groupe TVA Inc., is the distributor. Jackson-Triggs Winery sponsors the Anniversary Gala.

    Charles Martin Smith’s The Snow Walker, the Closing Gala selection on October 10, is a sweeping wide-screen drama set in the 1953 Northwest Territories around Rankin Inlet. Based on a story by Farley Mowat, this largely Vancouver-based production tells the extraordinary story of two people struggling to survive while stranded in the high Arctic. The film stars Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan) as bush pilot Charlie Halliday and impressive newcomer Annabella Piugattuk as Kanaalaq, the ailing young Inuit woman who becomes his travelling companion. Piugattuk had never acted before she was discovered by the casting director at a teen dance in the tiny town of Igloolik. She now lives in Vancouver. At once epic and intimate, this visually stunning film is destined to become a Canadian classic.\

    Writer/director Smith, who is also an actor, has enjoyed a 30-year Hollywood career. His roles include playing the lead in the 1983 film Never Cry Wolf, another Farley Mowat story. The Snow Walker, which is distributed by Lions Gate Films, is a directorial departure for Smith, whose directing credits include Air Bud and the pilot for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    The three gala films are screened at the VISA Screening Room @ the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville Street.

    The 22nd annual Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 25 to October 10. More than 150,000 patrons are expected to attend 500 screenings of 300 films from 50 countries at 10 Vancouver screens: the Granville 7(Granville Cineplex Odeon Theatres); the VISA Screening Room at the Vogue; The Ridge; and the Pacific Cinémathèque.

    The Film Festival Info Line opens September 4 at 604-683-FILM (3456). The complete film line-up will be available at www.viff.org on September 6.


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