Canadian films at VIFF 2019 present a diverse set of experiences

The Canadian experience takes diverse forms at VIFF 2019

38th Vancouver International Film Festival

September 26 – October 11, 2019


Canadian feature films at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) celebrate an expanded range of voices, perspectives, and narratives relating to the diverse experiences that make up the fabric of modern Canada. The Canadian program includes 12 first narrative features from Canadian filmmakers, and almost 50 per cent of the filmmakers are women.

“Through the collaborative Canadian programming model, we’ve crafted a program that reflects the myriad realities of life in this country, with some inspired surrealities thrown in for good measure,” said Curtis Woloschuk, VIFF’s Associate Director of Programming who leads VIFF’s Canadian programming team. “While VIFF’s Sea to Sky and True North streams will once again be rich with discoveries, the films found there will also impart a kaleidoscopic take on this place we call home and the people that populate it,” Curtis continued.

Rounding out VIFF’s Canadian programming team are Adam Cook (Future//Present Programmer), Dan Karo (Quebec Cinema Programmer), Milena Salazar (Canadian Documentary Programmer) and Amanda Strong (Feature & Shorts Programmer with a focus on work by Indigenous creators).


Part of the Sea to Sky programming stream presented by TELUS, the BC Spotlight film series sees Vancouver play an integral role in Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, and the World Premiere of Anthony Shim’s Daughter. Meanwhile, the Okanagan takes centre stage in Ash, the World Premiere of Andrew Huculiak’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Violent, and doubles as the Middle East in Red Snow (World Premiere), the first narrative feature by Indigenous creator, Marie Clements. Two locally produced documentaries examine the devotion demanded of parents: the World Premiere of Ying Wang’s The World Is Bright and Julia Ivanova’s My Dads, My Moms and Me. The complementary When We Walk, directed by former Vancouverite Jason DaSilva,  will screen in VIFF’s True North series. Finally, VIFF favourite Charles Wilkinson returns with the World Premiere of Haida Modern, a portrait of the world-renowned artist Robert Davidson.

My Dads, My Moms and Me

Presented by Telefilm Canada, the True North stream features several commanding female perspectives behind the camera and a multitude of languages, including French, Inuktitut, Russian, Serbian, and Romanian. Winner of the Coup de Coeur Award at Cannes 2019, Monia Chokri’s A Brother’s Love depicts a directionless woman’s unhealthy emotional reliance on her brother. Meanwhile, mother/daughter dynamics feature prominently in Easy Land, a debut feature from Sanja Živković  that joins The World Is Bright in examining the psychological toll of immigration. Alanis Obomsawin’s 53rd film, Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, documents the boy whose healthcare struggles were exacerbated by mismanagement relating to his First Nations status, leading to “Jordan’s Principle,” a law ensuring access to care for Indigenous peoples, despite continued systemic challenges.

The festival will also showcase One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, the latest feature from Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner) which centres on a standoff in the stark landscape of Baffin Island. Other highlights from the True North program include several genre-tinged offerings: Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas’ psychological thriller White Lie, Albert Shin’s neon-noir Clifton Hill and Joey Klein’s opioid crisis drama Castle in the Ground.

Quebec cinema is well represented with the World Premiere of Rodrigue Jean’s provocative The Acrobat, the World Premiere of Ryan McKenna’s Winnipeg-set Cranks, the North American Premiere of Sophie Bédard Marcotte’s L.A. Tea Time and Louise Archambault’s compassionate crowd-pleaser And the Birds Rained Down.

VIFF’s acclaimed Future//Present series features a number of premieres and celebrates bold, independent voices. The World Premiere of Fabián Velasco and Miloš Mitrovič’s Tapeworm presents a hypochondriac, a failed comedian, a loner and two naive stoners seeking an escape from their mundane Manitoban existence. Ramin Fahrenheit announces himself as talent not to be ignored with the World Premiere of Killer Queen, a warped grindhouse homage. Murmur is Heather Young’s first feature film and offers a beautiful, naturalistic performance portraying a middle-aged woman finding solace in the company of abandoned animals. Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century may just be the most audacious film of the year: a hyper-stylized, endlessly irreverent, and unrelentingly hilarious retelling of William Lyon Mackenzie King’s bid to become Prime Minister.

Red Snow @HowardJDavis

More Canadian features will be announced in the weeks to come.

VIFF Mentorship Program

VIFF is currently accepting applications for this creative development program which opens doors and eliminates barriers for up-and-coming filmmakers so that they can experience an international film festival first-hand and build relationships with peers and mentors. Ideal candidates (ages 19-30) are in the early stages of their filmmaking career and eager to take their own projects to the next level. VIFF is committed to offering opportunities to those who are often under- or misrepresented in the film industry and beyond. Supported by STORYHIVE and the RBC Foundation and presented in partnership with Cineworks, the program encourages filmmakers who are Indigenous, people of colour and people across the spectrums of gender, sexuality and abilities to apply online up until August 16, 2019:

Canadian films at VIFF are eligible for over $80,000 in awards. Details at:

Sea to Sky presented by TELUS

BC Spotlight

Ash (dir Andrew Huculiak) – World Premiere

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (dirs Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn)

Daughter (dir Anthony Shim) – World Premiere

Haida Modern (dir Charles Wilkinson) – World Premiere

My Dads, My Moms and Me (dir Julia Ivanova)

Raf (dir Harry Cepka)

Red Snow (dir Marie Clements) – World Premiere

The World Is Bright (dir Ying Wang) – World Premiere

True North presented by Telefilm Canada

True North film series

The Acrobat (dir Rodrigue Jean) – World Premiere

And the Birds Rained Down (dir Louise Archambault)

Assholes: A Theory (dir John Walker)

A Brother’s Love (dir Monia Chokri)

Castle in the Ground (dir Joey Klein)

Clifton Hill (dir Albert Shin)

Conviction (dirs Nance Ackerman, Ariella Pahlke, Teresa MacInnes)

Cranks (dir Ryan McKenna) – World Premiere

Easy Land (dir Sanja Živković)

Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (dir Alanis Obomsawin)

L.A. Tea Time (dir Sophie Bédard Marcotte) – N. American Premiere

One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (dir Zacharias Kunuk)

Symphony in Aquamarine (dir Dan Popa)

To Live to Sing (dir Johnny Ma)

When We Walk (dir Jason DaSilva)

White Lie (dirs Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas)

Future//Present film series

Anne at 13,000 ft (dir Kazik Radwanski)

DANNY (dirs Lewis Bennett and Aaron Zeghers) – N. American Premiere

Killer Queen (dir Ramin Fahrenheit) – World Premiere

MS Slavic 7 (dirs Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell) – Canadian Premiere

Murmur (dir Heather Young)

Tapeworm (dirs Fabián Velasco and Miloš Mitrovič) – World Premiere

Tito (dir Grace Glowicki) – Canadian Premiere

The Twentieth Century (dir Matthew Rankin)

About VIFF |

Founded in 1982, the Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society is a not-for-profit cultural society and federally registered charitable organization that operates the internationally acclaimed Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and the year-round programming of the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre. VIFF produces screenings, talks, conferences and events that act as a catalyst for the community to discover the creativity and craft of screen storytelling. For its 38th year, VIFF welcomes the world to Vancouver from September 26 – October 11, 2019 as it showcases the top international, Canadian and BC films and plays host to industry professionals from around the globe.

Festival Information

●      VIFF Live Tickets: VIFF Live tickets are available online now. Visit for more information.

●      Festival Tickets: Passes and ticket packs are available online at noon on August 22, 2019. Single tickets are available online at noon on September 5, 2019 and in-person at the Vancity Theatre Box Office from September 12, 2019. Visit for more information.

●      Programming Announcements: Released weekly throughout August and September.

●      Press Conference: September 4, 2019 at the Vancouver International Film Centre (1181 Seymour St)

●      Volunteer Registration: Each year VIFF relies on the hard work of more than 1,000 volunteers to assist in running the festival. Volunteer registration is now open at

 Media release provided by Nora Eastwood, Yulu Public Relations. Feature image: Haida Modern

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