Victoria film fest preps 150-project lineup for 25th anniversary

The Vancouver Island festival will feature 156 films from across Canada and the world, in addition to a curated multimedia section to mark its quarter-century milestone.
Image courtesy of Axia Films

The Victoria Film Festival (VFF) has lifted the lid on its 25th anniversary edition, expanding its slate to include more than 150 domestic and international films.

All told, VFF 2019 will feature 156 film projects, a curated multimedia section (called State of Play) dedicated to its quarter-century milestone and an “In Conversation” event focusing on the Canada/U.S. coventure Smoke Signals (1998).

Starting on Feb. 1, Vancouver Island’s largest and longest-running film festival will kick off with Gilles Lellouche’s French comedy Sink or Swim (“Le grand bain”).

Telefilm’s foreign-language Oscar pickFamily First  (“Chien de Garde,” pictured) from writer/director Sophie Dupuis will screen as VFF’s opening Canadian film as part of its French Canadian Wave category with Quebec Cinema.

Vancouver filmmaker John Bolton’s NFB doc That Higher Level, which follows 100 musicians who try to make their mark on the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, will also make its world premiere at the festival. That Higher Level is produced by the NFB in association with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and is exec produced by the NFB’s Shirley Vercuysse. The doc is one of 11 NFB projects at the festival.

Other films set to screen in the Canadian Wave category include Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies, Don McKellar’s Through Black Spruce, Laura Marie Wayne’s Love, Scott, Patricia Rozema’s Mouthpiece, Kim Nguyen’s The Hummingbird Project, Jazmin Mozaffari’s Firecrackers, Emilie B. Guerette’s The Other Rio (“L’autre Rio”), Thom Fitzgerald’s Splinters and more.

In addition, Corey Stanton’s debut feature, Robbery, which won the award for best Canadian feature at the 2018 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, is set to make its Western Canadian premiere at VFF. Written and directed by Stanton, the feature follows a down-on-his-luck man who tries to pay off his gambling debt with the help of his criminal father, who has just been diagnosed with dementia. Toronto’s Indiecan Entertainment recently acquired the North American distribution rights to the film.

In the festival’s Indigenous Perspective section, Christina King and Elizabeth Castle’s Warrior Women and Michelle Derosier and Marie-Helene Cousineau’s Angelique’s Isle will both make their B.C. premieres.

VFF’s State of Play exhibition will be split into three installations: Peering Back, Landscapes From The Archives and Box Heads. Curated by Gina Luke, the anniversary project aims to encourage viewers to discover film in a new way and is comprised of hybrid shorts that mix dance, theatre, digital media, video games, poetry and more. Finally, the fest will offer an In Conversation with Smoke Signals director Chris Eyre and stars Tantoo Cardinal and Evan Adams about the film, which had its Canadian premiere at VFF.

VFF runs from Feb. 1 to 10, 2019.