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VIFF Announces 2020 Films for Altered States, Gateway, International Shorts and MODES

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VIFF Announces 2020 Films for Altered States, Gateway, International Shorts and MODES

Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 (VIFF) is delighted to announce the complete programming lineup for the Altered States, Gateway, International Shorts and MODES film series for its 39th edition. Altered States celebrates fantastic cinema that defies traditional classification. Gateway showcases compelling cinematic worlds envisioned by East Asia's most adventurous artists. International Shorts highlight the work of filmmakers pushing the boundaries of the short form. MODES presents works that subvert the dominant gaze and offer gestures of resistance.

VIFF's entire film lineup will be available across the province on the new VIFF Connect streaming platform. VIFF's $60 subscription will bring the festival's world-class lineup into the homes of thousands of British Columbians starting at 12pm PDT on September 24.

Altered States presents the hotly anticipated world premiere of BC-made The Curse of Willow Song from award-winning director Karen Lam. The film recently won accolades at the 2020 Leo Awards in the motion picture category: Lam for Best Direction and Thomas Billingsley for Best Cinematography. Shot against the backdrop of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, The Curse of Willow Song follows the harrowing story of a recovering addict navigating her new LIFE AFTER prison. The series also features two buzzworthy BC premieres of international note: Jumbo, the directorial debut of France's Zoé Wittock, is an intoxicating amalgam of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's fantasticism and David Cronenberg's fetishism, whereby a misfit girl falls in love with a theme park's carnival ride; and Special Actors from Japanese director Shinichiro Ueda, about a young man who dreams of stardom, but suffers from a medical condition that causes him to faint when he gets nervous.

"At first glance, some of the films in the Altered States series may appear outrageous or even extreme," says Curtis Woloschuk, Associate Director of Programming. "But all of these elevated genre films confront issues and concerns prevalent in our everyday lives, be it our innate need for connection, the malleability of identity in the internet age, the exploitation of the working class, rampant xenophobia or the damage wrought by entitled predators. There are images in these films that will dazzle and disorient you. However, it's the ideas they contain that will haunt you."

Gateway includes five Canadian premieres, two international premieres and one North American premiere. Highlights include: the Canadian premiere of Fantasporto Film Festival Special Jury Prize winner Dancing Mary by Japanese director SABU, a paean to love and fidelity as well as living (or dying) dangerously; the Canadian premiere of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival official selection Beauty Water by director Cho Kyung-hun, a scathing critique of South Korea's patriarchal, body-shaming culture; the Canadian premiere of Hong Kong Film Award winner Twilight's Kiss from director Ray Yeung, a touching love story about two seniors imagining a life together in Hong Kong; the international premiere of The Town of Headcounts by Japanese director Shinji Araki, a chilling yet beguiling thriller with electrifying tension throughout; A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad's an Alcoholic by Japanese director Kenji Katagiri, a rare, revealing probe into the toll of Japan's ubiquitous drinking culture; and The Calming by Chinese director Song Fang, an exploration of the inner life of a woman through the observation of external signs: watch the flowers, plants, trees and butterflies for a constantly modulating commentary.

"With contributions from our program consultants - Maggie Lee for Japan and Korea and Shelly Kraicer for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - the Gateway series offers us an intimate window into the vibrant cultures of East Asia," PoChu AuYeung, Program Manager and Senior Programmer. "This eclectic collection of experiences is at times sentimental, inquisitive and occasionally even shocking - but what unifies them is the authenticity of voices and beauty of expression from one of the film world's most exciting creative regions."

International Shorts presents four distinct programs: Animated Shorts, a showcase of artistry featuring everything from the digital technical wizardry of Dreamworks to marvelous puppet animation; Come Hell or..., a timely exploration of themes of commitment, sacrifice and identity in the midst of hardship; Release Me From This Darkness, a dark yet hopeful selection that examines victims of a world gone wrong, dysfunctional families and racial and homophobic prejudice; and Tell Us About Her Life, a moving collection that highlights stories about women - from illumninating dramas to semi-experimental pieces about groundbreaking women, everyday heroines and flawed characters.

"You can't have light without casting shadows - and this juxtaposition is on full display in International Shorts programming," says Sandy Gow, International Shorts Programmer. "Offsetting dark themes with surprising humour and uplifting characters, these potent short works are a roller coaster ride of emotions. There is some terrific filmmaking, artistry and storytelling on display, and we're especially pleased to be showcasing women's experiences this year - not only with on-screen protagonists, but also with works by visionary female directors."

MODES presents two Canadian premieres, nine North American premieres and representation from 18 countries, including Operation Jane Walk (performance) - Live Streaming Event, from Austrian artists Robin Klengel and Leonhard Müllner. This award-winning interactive online performance, set within the confines of a built-to-scale multiplayer shooter game (Tom Clancy's The Division), is repurposed as an avatar-universe for a guided architectural tour of New York. An active experience, the audience chats live with the tour guides, presenting a dynamic group experience during these COVID-defined times. Additional highlights include: the North American premiere of Digital Funeral: Beta Version by Thai director Sorayos Prapapan, which examines the limitations of digital life within the cinematic form; the North American premiere of Becoming Alluvium by director Thao Nguyen Phan, about Vietnam's troubled history and the Mekong river's current ecological state; the Canadian premiere of director Lynn Sachs' Oberhausen award winner A Month of Single Frames, in which she was invited to rework the material created by her friend and peer, Barbara Hammer, an experimental pioneer and queer icon; and Berlin's Teddy Award winner, Playback, from director Agustina Comedi, a manifesto honouring a group of trans women and drag queens who faced the AIDS epidemic and fought the violence of the conservative ideals underpinning Argentina's military dictatorship.

"Protest, resistance and the disruption of the status quo are becoming the defining acts of 2020," says Tammy Bannister, Programmer and MODES curator. "This year's artists explore radical acts of engagement within contemplative and virtual landscapes. From a self-organized funeral to the awe-inspiring natural environment of the Mekong River, these selected works tackle the complex architectures of our social fabric."

All films will include introductions by VIFF Programming Curators or bonus content from filmmakers and creators.

ALTERED STATES: Fantastic cinema that defies traditional classification

The Curse of Willow Song (dir. Karen Lam, Canada) | World Premiere | BC Feature
Jumbo (dir. Zoé Wittock, France)
Lapsis (dir. Noah Hutton, USA)
Possessor (dir. Brandon Cronenberg, Canada/UK) | Canadian Premiere
Sanzaru (dir. Xia Magnus, USA)
Special Actors (dir. Shinichiro Ueda, Japan)
Violation (dirs. Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli, Canada)

GATEWAY: Compelling cinematic worlds envisioned by East Asia's most adventurous artists

Beauty Water (dir. Cho Kyung-hun, South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
The Calming (dir. Song Fang, China)
Dancing Mary (dir. SABU, Japan) | Canadian Premiere
A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad's an Alcoholic (dir. Kenji Katagiri, Japan)
Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down (dirs. Leung Ming-kai, Kate Reilly, Hong Kong) | Canadian Premiere
Mickey on the Road (dir. Lu Mian Mian, Taiwan) | North American Premiere
Moving on (dir. Yoon Dan-bi, South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
My Prince Edward (dir. Norris Wong Yee-lam, Hong Kong)
The Town of Headcounts (dir. Shinji Araki, Japan) | International Premiere
Twilight's Kiss (dir. Ray Yeung, Hong Kong) | Canadian Premiere

INTERNATIONAL SHORTS: Filmmakers pushing the boundaries of the short form

Animated Tales
Empty Places (dir. Geoffroy de Crécy, France)
Homeless Home (dir. Alberto Vázquez, France/Spain)
Malakout (dir. Farnoosh Abedi, Iran) | Canadian Premiere
The Parrot Lady (dir. Michalis Kalopaidis, Cyprus) | Canadian Premiere
The Roses of Damascus (dirs. Gabriel Gonzalez Guirola, Yasmina Touzani, France) | International Premiere
Sheep, Wolf and a Cup of Tea... (dir. Marion Lacourt, France) | North American Premiere
To: Gerard (dir. Taylor Meacham, USA)
To the Dusty Sea (dir. Héloïse Ferlay, France)
Wade (dirs. Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi, India) | Canadian Premiere
The Winter (dir. Xin Li, Australia)

Come Hell or...
À La Carte (dir. Jay Do, Vietnam) | Canadian Premiere
Flawless (dir. Nathan Franck, France) | International Premiere
Flush (dir. Diego Freitas, Brazil) | World Premiere
Sin Cielo (dir. Jianna Maarten, USA)
The Twins (dirs. Cru Bannon, Douglas Ho, Yuriz Joe, Malaysia) | International Premiere
Union County (dir. Adam Meeks, USA) | Canadian Premiere
White Eye (dir. Tomer Shushan, Israel)

Release Me From This Darkness
Destructors (dir. Otis Tree, UK) | World Premiere
Home (dir. Alex von Hofmann, Australia) | World Premiere
The Hunter (dir. Sam McConnell, USA) | World Premiere
Imelda and Luis (dir. Leonel Chee, Mexico) | World Premiere
In This Land We're Briefly Ghosts (dir. Chen-Wen Lo, Myanmar) | Canadian Premiere
Not a Word (dir. Élodie Wallace, France)
Of Memories and Madness (dir. Maria de la Ossa, Panama)
Widowers (dir. Julian Tuna, Australia) | World Premiere

Tell Us About Her Life
The Book of Ruth (dir. Becca Roth, USA) | International Premiere
I want to make a film about women (dir. Karen Pearlman, Australia) | International Premiere
Illusione (dir. Lorenzo Quagliozzi, Italy) | World Premiere
Jane (dir. Kathryn Prescott, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Little Chief (dir. Erica Tremblay, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Now, Daphne (dir. Johann G. Louis, France)
She (dir. Matt Greenhalgh, UK) | Canadian Premiere
A Woman (dir. Tahmina Rafaella, Azerbaijan)

MODES: Works that subvert the dominant gaze and offer gestures of resistance

All, or Nothing at All (dirs. Persijn Broersen, Margit Lukács, Denmark/Netherlands | North American Premiere
Becoming Alluvium (dir. Thao Nguyen Phan, Spain/Vietnam) | North American Premiere
Bittersweet (dir. Sohrab Hura, India) | North American Premiere
A Demonstration (dirs. Sasha Litvintseva, Beny Wagner, Netherlands/Germany/UK) | North American Premiere
Digital Funeral: Beta Version (dir. Sorayos Prapapan, Thailand) | North American Premiere
(e)scape goat (dir. Sid Iandovka, USA/Switzerland) | North American Premiere
The End of Suffering (a proposal) (dir. Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece) | North American Premiere
How to Disappear (dirs. Total Refusal: Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Michael Stumpf, Austria) | Canadian Premiere
In Times of Deception (dir. Michael Heindl, Colombia/Bolivia/Chile/Peru) | North American Premiere
A Month of Single Frames (dir. Lynne Sachs, made with and for Barbara Hammer, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Playback (dir. Agustina Comedi, Argentina) | Canadian Premiere
Operation Jane Walk (performance) - Live Streaming Event (dir. and performance Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Austria) | North American Premiere

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