Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) celebrates its 40th edition with a vibrant festival program that includes more than 110 feature films, 77 shorts, and 20 events. All films will be presented in-cinema, in strict compliance with provincial COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and select titles will be available for streaming across the province and Canada-wide on the festival’s online streaming platform, VIFF Connect.

VIFF’s 2021 lineup showcases a kaleidoscopic collection of revelatory work, from provocative documentaries to elevated genre films. VIFF Talks take viewers behind the camera, and Totally Indie Day, VIFF AMP, and VIFF Immersed conferences support the local creative communities. VIFF’s 40th edition will officially open with an in-cinema screening of the inventive biopic The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, from U.K. director Will Sharpe, starring Benedict Cumberbatch who gives a bravura performance as the Victorian illustrator who found lasting fame with his knack for drawing cute cats. The festival will mark its closing with an in-cinema screening of Petite Maman, the latest from French director Céline Sciamma. A simple, subtle fairy tale about the mysterious bond between mother and daughter, the poetic film is realized with supreme delicacy and tact. Films streamed on VIFF Connect will include a selection of recorded Q&A’s from filmmakers and creators


a selection of highly recommended screenings chosen by theBUZZ team


 The Endless Moment – The Painter Rolf Kuhlmann, Dir Claudia Schmid (International Premiere)

In this remarkable documentary, director Claudia Schmid spends a year following realist painter Rolf Kuhlmann as he visits German forests, and ancient archeological sites and refugee camps in Greece. The Endless Moment takes the viewer along in an extraordinary creative journey in the creation of ambitious, large-scale double triptych paintings, capturing the moments of conception, rumination, execution, and revision. 

 Nine Sevilles, Dirs Gonzalo García Pelayo, Pedro G. Romero  (Canadian Premiere)

An exhilarating, adventurous celebration of the city that birthed flamenco, Nine Sevilles features nine views by nine vibrant artists and thinkers, as they walk us through the meandering streets of Seville. At once playful and loose, the filmmakers’ love of the city and its art is indelible in every exuberant scene. At the heart of this movie are the glorious rhythms of palmas, powerful percussive footwork, the melodic flourishes of the guitar, and the passionate, soaring voice of the cantes. 

White Cube, Dir Renzo Martens (Canadian Premiere)

In his project The Repatriation of the White Cube, Dutch ironist Renzo Martens seeks out Congolese workers at two Unilever palm oil plantations and suggests a profit-share model where the workers will get paid for their art, which will be shown in galleries in the West. Martens casts himself as salesman, but also knowingly steps aside for a moving portrait of sculptor Matthieu Kasiama. 

Records, Dir Alan Zweig 

Twenty-one years since his groundbreaking first feature documentary Vinyl, Alan Zweig returns to the topic of compulsive record collecting with newfound introspection and a sunnier disposition. Punctuated by his signature mirror-confessionals, Records compiles colourful interviews with vinyl enthusiasts, swirling around the proverbial maxim that music has the power to connect us all. 


Benediction, Dir. Terence Davies (UK) 

Achingly intimate, visually sumptuous, and richly detailed, the latest from Terence Davies is a portrait of WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon. The subversive writer is played in old age by Peter Capaldi and in younger years by Jack Lowden; both give superb performances, and they’re matched by the rest of the ensemble cast. The real star, however, is Davies himself: with his musical treatment of images and his sublime articulation of emotion, he delivers a tour de force of filmmaking. 

Celts, Dir. Milica Tomović (Serbia)  North American Premiere 

Against a backdrop of Yugoslavia’s political turmoil in 1993, Marijana tries to throw a successful birthday party for her eight-year-old daughter Minja. Director Milica Tomović’s fluid mise-en-scène and period authentic production design paint a compelling portrait, and the script offers a microcosm of socio-political commentary through clever and entertaining dialogue. A searing search not only into the hearts of its cast of colourful characters, but into the heart of the country itself. 

The Coast, Dir. Sohrab Hura (India) / MODES FILM North American Premiere 

“The margin between land and water becomes a point of release as the ocean washes away emotional multitudes, shedding the masquerade. —Lost Head & the Bird (MODES 2018), Bittersweet (MODES 2019)”  

Everything Went Fine, Dir. François Ozon (France) 

Partially paralyzed by a stroke, 85 year-old André (André Dussollier) makes a desperate, secret request of his daughter Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau): find a way to help him end his life. Over months of caring for him in the hospital, she struggles to come to terms with her father’s decision, navigating legal concerns and family drama as she hopes that he will change his mind and regain interest in life.

Inspired by the autobiography of François Ozon’s friend and frequent collaborator, Emmanuèle Bernheim, (who herself died in 2017), Ozon’s intimate film subtly captures the intricate dynamics of family bonds with a sentimentality that always feels true to life. Without engaging in euthanasia criticism or apologetics, Everything Went Fine has a frank, matter-of-fact approach to its subject, allowing its deft family drama to be carried by its wonderful performances instead of courting controversy. An understated, honest film about our society’s approach to life and death.

Flee, Dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark/Sweden/Norway/France) 

Amin Nawabi, the pseudonymous subject of Flee, says the diary where he first documented what happened to him during the Soviet-Afghan war is written in Dari, a language he now only barely recollects. Flee, then, is not strictly Amin’s story—forced departure from Kabul, fearful year waiting in Russia, eventual asylum in Denmark. Instead, it is an attempt by filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen (a longtime friend of Amin’s) to illustrate how the incomplete nature of this story profoundly shapes Amin’s daily life. 

Moneyboys, Dir. C.B. Yi (Austria/France/Taiwan/Belgium) North American Premiere 

Moneyboys takes a revelatory glimpse at China’s hushed-up gay sex industry. Fei (Kai Ko) works tirelessly as a rentboy to send money home, but his family humiliates him while pocketing his earnings. Loneliness, police crackdown, and fickle friendships erode short-lived joys of youth and furtive liaisons. Shot in Taiwan and dripping with tropical sensuality, this breathtaking debut by C.B. Yi caught critical attention in Cannes for its incisive, formal beauty. 

Paris, 13th District, Dir. Jacques Audiard (France) 

A comedy in the classical sense, a network narrative that feels natural in its criss-crossing, and an exuberant showcase for its four protagonists, Paris, 13th District proves director Jacques Audiard’s skills translate equally well to any genre. Camille (Makita Samba), Émilie (Lucie Zhang), Nora (Noémie Merlant), and Amber (Jehnny Beth) rotate in and out of the film’s gravitational centre, deftly plotted by co-writers Audiard, Céline Sciamma, and Léa Mysius. 

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS: Highly anticipated titles by the world’s top filmmakers

All My Puny Sorrows dir. Michael McGowan (Canada)
Belfast dir. Kenneth Branagh (UK)
Benediction dir. Terence Davies (UK)
Bergman Island dir. Mia Hansen-Løve (France/Belgium/Germany/Sweden)
Drive My Car dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan)
Everything Went Fine dir. François Ozon (France)
Memoria dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand/Colombia/UK/Mexico/France/Germany)
Mothering Sunday dir. Eva Husson (UK)
Night Raiders dir. Danis Goulet (Canada/New Zealand)
Official Competition dirs. Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat (Spain)
One Second dir. Zhang Yimou (China)
Red Rocket dir. Sean Baker (USA) | Canadian Premiere
The Sanctity of Space dir. Renan Ozturk, Freddie Wilkinson (USA) | World Premiere
The Worst Person in the World dir. Joachim Trier (Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark)

CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA: Narrative films from around the globe

Azor dir. Andreas Fontana (Switzerland/France/Argentina) | Canadian Premiere
The Beta Test dirs. Jim Cummings, PJ McCabe (USA/UK)
Bone Marrow dir. Hamid Reza Ghorbani (Iran) | International Premiere
The Book of Delights dir. Marcela Lordy (Brazil) | North American Premiere
Brighton 4th dir. Levan Koguashvili (Georgia/Russia/Bulgaria/Monaco/USA) | Canadian Premiere
Brother’s Keeper dir. Ferit Karahan (Turkey/Romania) | Canadian Premiere
Bye Bye Morons dir. Albert Dupontel (France)
Celts dir. Milica Tomović (Serbia) | North American Premiere

Clara Sola dir. Nathalie Álvarez Mesén (Sweden/Costa Rica/Belgium/Germany) | North American Premiere
Compartment No.6 dir. Juho Kuosmanen (Finland/Germany/Estonia/Russia)
Fabian – Going to the Dogs dir. Dominik Graf (Germany) | North American Premiere
Father Pablo José Luis Isoard Arrubarrena (Mexico) | World Premiere
The Girl and the Spider dirs. Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher (Switzerland)
Girlfriends dir. Carol Rodríguez Colás (Spain) | North American Premiere
Godavari dir. Nikhil Mahajan (India) | World Premiere
Havel dir. Slávek Horák (Czech Republic) | Canadian Premiere
Him dir. Guro Bruusgaard (Norway) | North American Premiere
Hit the Road dir. Panah Panahi (Iran)
The In-Laws dir. Kuba Michalczuk (Poland) | World Premiere
Lamya’s Poem dir. Alex Kronemer (USA/Canada) | North American Premiere
Miracle dir. Bogdan George Apetri (Romania/Czech Republic/Latvia) | North American Premiere
Paris, 13th District, dir. Jacques Audiard (France)
Queen of Glory dir. Nana Mensah (USA) | Canadian Premiere
The Siamese Bond dir. Paula Hernández (Argentina) | Canadian Premiere
Small Body dir. Laura Samani (Italy/France/Slovenia)
Souad dir. Ayten Amin (Egypt/Tunisia/Germany) | Canadian Premiere
A Tale of Love and Desire dir. Leyla Bouzid (France/Tunisia) | Canadian Premiere
Unclenching the Fists dir. Kira Kovalenko (Russia)
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? dir. Alexandre Koberidze (Germany/Georgia) | Canadian Premiere

TRUE NORTH: A celebration of the creativity and craft demonstrated by Canadian storytellers

Be Still dir. Elizabeth Lazebnik (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Feature
The Boathouse dir. Hannah Cheesman (Canada)
Bootlegger dir. Caroline Monnet (Canada) | World Premiere
Coextinction dirs. Gloria Pancrazi, Elena Jean (Canada) | Canadian Premiere | BC Feature
Damascus Dreams dir. Émilie Serri (Canada) | North American Premiere
Darkroom dir. Lukas Maier (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Feature
The Drunken Birds dir. Ivan Grbovic (Canada)
Handle With Care: The Legend of the Notic Streetball Crew dirs. Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux, Kirk Thomas (Canada) |
World Premiere | BC Feature
Hands That Bind dir. Kyle Armstrong (Canada)
Islands dir. Martin Edralin (Canada)
The Last Tourist dir. Tyson Sadler (Canada)
Learn to Swim dir. Thyrone Tommy (Canada)
Night Blooms dir. Stephanie Clattenburg (Canada)
Portraits From a Fire dir. Trevor Mack (Canada) | BC Feature
Quickening dir. Haya Waseem (Canada)
Returning Home dir. Sean Stiller (Canada) | BC Feature
See for Me dir. Randall Okita (Canada)
Sin La Habana dir. Kaveh Nabatian (Canada)
Ste. Anne dir. Rhayne Vermette (Canada)
The White Fortress dir. Igor Drljača (Canada/Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Wildhood dir. Bretten Hannam (Canada)
Zo Reken dir. Emanuel Licha (Canada)

VIFF SHORT FORUM: A showcase of the myriad perspectives and approaches that are redefining Canadian
short filmmaking

Ajjigiingiluktaaqtaugut (We Are All Different) dir. Lindsay McIntyre (Canada) | Canadian Premiere | BC Short
Bad Seeds dir. Claude Cloutier (Canada)
Big Things dir. Eric Peterson (Canada)
The Blactor dir. Rukiya Bernard (Canada) | BC Short
Boobs dir. Marie Valade (Canada)
Canucks Riot I dir. Lewis Bennett (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short
chocolate dir. Charlene Moore (Canada)
Defund dirs. Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Araya Mengesha (Canada)
Evan’s Drum dir. Ossie Michelin (Canada)
Flower Boy dir. Anya Chirkova (Canada)
Hatha dir. Asia Youngman (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short
Heavy Petting dir. Brendan Prost (Canada) | Canadian Premiere
The Horses dir. Liz Cairns (Canada) | BC Short
Indigenous Dads dir. Peter Brass (Canada) | World Premiere
The Isobel Imprint dir. Ali Grant (Canada) | BC Short
Jean Swanson: We Need a New Map dir. Teresa Alfeld (Canada) | BC Short
Kiri and the Girl dir. Grace Dove (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short
Like the Ones I Used to Know dir. Annie St-Pierre (Canada)
Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again dir. Courtney Montour (Canada)
Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics dir. Terril Calder (Canada)
Militant Mother dir. Carmen Pollard (Canada) | BC Short
The Mohel dir. Charles Wahl (Canada)
Nalujuk Night dir. Jennie Williams (Canada)
News From Home dir. Sara Wylie (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short
On Either Side dir. Elisa Julia Gilmour (Canada) | World Premiere
Personals dir. Sasha Argirov (Canada) | North American Premiere | BC Short
Prometheus dir. Marie Farsi (Canada) | World Premiere
A Safe Distance dir. Gloria Mercer (Canada) | BC Short
Solitary Skies dir. Amanda Cassidy (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short
Srikandi dir. Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto (Canada/Indonesia) | BC Short
Things We Feel but Do Not Say dir. Lauren Grant (Canada) | World Premiere
Tla-o-qui-aht Dugout Canoe dir. Steven Davies (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short
Together dir. Albert Shin (Canada/South Korea)
Twelve Hours dir. Paul Shkordoff (Canada)
The Untouchable dir. Avazeh Shahnavaz (Iran/Canada) | World Premiere
A Void dir. Dominique van Olm (Canada)
Without You dir. Mina Shum (Canada) | World Premiere | BC Short

IMPACT: Uncompromising films that spark action and change the way we see the world

Ayukawa – The Weight of Life dirs. Tu Neill, Jim Speers (New Zealand/UK/Japan) | World Premiere
Behind the Headlines dir. Daniel Andreas Sager (Germany)
Blue Box dir. Michal Weits (Israel/Canada/Belgium)
From the Wild Sea dir. Robin Petré (Denmark) | Canadian Premiere
Her Socialist Smile dir. John Gianvito (USA)
Little Palestine: Diary of a Siege dir. Abdallah Al-Khatib (Lebanon/France/Qatar) | North American Premiere
Secrets From Putumayo dir. Aurélio Michiles (Brazil)
M/A/D: Music, art and design receive an aesthetically alluring big-screen treatment
Charlotte dirs. Eric Warin, Tahir Rana (Canada/France/Belgium)
The Endless Moment – The Painter Rolf Kuhlmann dir. Claudia Schmid (Germany/Greece) | International Premiere
Keep Rolling dir. Man Lim Chung (Hong Kong) | Canadian Premiere
Nine Sevilles dirs. Gonzalo García Pelayo, Pedro G. Romero (Spain/France) | Canadian Premiere
Records dir. Alan Zweig (Canada) | World Premiere
Rock Bottom Riser dir. Fern Silva (USA) | Canadian Premiere
To the Moon dir. Tadhg O’Sullivan (Ireland) | Canadian Premiere
White Cube dir. Renzo Martens (Netherlands/Belgium) | Canadian Premiere

INSIGHTS: Nonfiction films that investigate essential subject matter

Daughter of a Lost Bird dir. Brooke Pepion Swaney (USA)
Faya dayi dir. Jessica Beshir (Ethiopia/USA/Qatar)
The First 54 Years: An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation dir. Avi Mograbi
(France/Finland/Israel/Germany) | Canadian Premiere
Flee dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark/Sweden/Norway/France)
Just a Movement dir. Vincent Meessen (Belgium/France)
The King of North Sudan dir. Danny Abel (USA/China/Egypt/Thailand) | World Premiere
Maya dirs. Jamshid Mojaddadi, Anson Hartford (UK/Iran) | Canadian Premiere
My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan dirs. Phil Grabsky, Shoaib Sharifi (Afghanistan/UK) |
International Premiere
The Six dir. Arthur Jones (China) | North American Premiere
Taming the Garden dir. Salomé Jashi (Switzerland/Germany/Georgia)
The Velvet Queen dirs. Marie Amiguet, Vincent Munier (France) | Canadian Premiere
Venetian Molecules dir. Andrea Segre (Italy)

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

Barbarian Invasion dir. Tan Chui Mui (Malaysia/Hong Kong/Philippines) | Canadian Premiere
A Chat dir. Wang Xide (China) | International Premiere
Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko dir. Ayumu Watanabe (Japan)
In Front of Your Face dir. Hong Sangsoo (South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
Money Has Four Legs dir. Maung Sun (Myanmar) | Canadian Premiere
Moneyboys dir. C.B. Yi (Austria/France/Taiwan/Belgium) | North American Premiere
Sinkhole dir. Kim Ji-hoon (South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
Spaghetti Code Love dir. Takeshi Maruyama (Japan) | Canadian Premiere
Three Sisters dir. Lee Seung-won (South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
Time dir. Ricky Ko (Hong Kong)
Wife of a Spy dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japan)
Yuni dir. Kamila Andini (Indonesia/Singapore/France/Australia)

ALTERED STATES: Fantastic cinema that defies traditional classification

Bipolar dir. Queena Li (China) | Canadian Premiere
Kicking Blood dir. Blaine Thurier (Canada)
Saloum dir. Jean Luc Herbulot (Senegal)
The Scary of Sixty-First dir. Dasha Nekrasova (USA) | Canadian Premiere
Strawberry Mansion dirs. Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley (USA)
Tin Can dir. Seth A Smith (Canada)
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror dir. Kier-La Janisse (USA)

INTERNATIONAL SHORTS: Filmmakers pushing the boundaries of the short form

Anyhow, Anyway dir. Catarina Romano (Portugal) | North American Premiere
Charlotte dir. Zach Dorn (USA)
Fall of the Ibis King dirs. Mikai Geronimo, Josh O’Caoimh (Ireland) | North American Premiere
Flowing Home dir. Sandra Desmazières (France/Canada)
Granny’s Sexual Life dirs. Urška Djukić, Émilie Pigeard (Slovenia/France)
The Monkey dirs. Lorenzo Degl´Innocenti, Xosé Zapata (Portugal/Spain) | North American Premiere
Nuevo Rico dir. Kristian Mercado Figueroa (USA) | Canadian Premiere
Unnecessary Things dir. Dmytro Lisenbart (Ukraine) | Canadian Premiere
Wake dir. Mark Boston (UK) | North American Premiere
Have We Ever Learned?
The Black Disquisition dir. Quincy G. Ledbetter (USA)
Chants From a Holy Book dirs. Cassiana Der Haroutiounian, Cesar Gananian (Brazil) | World Premiere
The Following Year dir. Miguel Campaña (Spain) | Canadian Premiere
The Night I Left America dir. Laki Karavias (USA)
A Quiet Man dir. Nyima Cartier (France) | North American Premiere
A Roll in the Hay dir. Geoffrey Fighiera (France)
Your Street dir. Güzin Kar (Switzerland)
Life Labs
Apart, Together dir. Olivia Hang Zhou (USA/China)
Carrier dir. Max Ovaska (Finland) | Canadian Premiere
Goodbye Tornio dir. Emilia Hernesniemi (Finland)
MeTube: August Sings ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ dir. Daniel Moshel (Austria) | Canadian Premiere
Neko and Flies dir. Tsao Shih Han (Taiwan) | North American Premiere
Quality Time dir. Omer Ben-David (Israel) | Canadian Premiere
Seniors Day
Al-Sit dir. Suzannah Mirghani (Sudan/Qatar)
All Dogs Die dir. Ninna Pálmadóttir (Iceland) | North American Premiere
Charon dir. Yannick Karcher (France)
Don vs Lightning dir. Big Red Button (UK) | Canadian Premiere
Dona dir. Marga Melià (Spain)
Roy dirs. Tom Berkeley, Ross White (UK) | Canadian Premiere
The Saverini Widow dir. Loïc Gaillard (France)
MODES: Works that subvert the dominant gaze and offer gestures of resistance
In Flow of Words dir. Eliane Esther Bots (Netherlands) | Canadian Premiere
I’ve Been Afraid dir. Cecelia Condit (Mexico)
Motorcyclist’s Happiness Won’t Fit Into His Suit dir. Gabriel Herrera (Mexico)
Neon Phantom dir. Leonardo Martinelli (Brazil) | North American Premiere
New Abnormal dir. Sorayos Prapapan (Thailand/South Korea/Singapore)
Once Upon a Screen: Explosive Paradox dir. Kevin B. Lee (Germany/USA)
Adversarial Infrastructure dir. Anna Engelhardt (Russia) | North American Premiere
The Canyon dir. Zachary Epcar (USA)
The Coast dir. Sohrab Hura (India) | North American Premiere
Corps Samples dir. Astrid de la Chapelle (France) | North American Premiere
Happiness Is a Journey dirs. Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan (USA/Estonia) | North American Premiere
Show Me Other Places dir. Rajee Samarasinghe (Sri Lanka/USA) | Canadian Premiere


VIFF TALKS: Creators and innovators share expertise on their craft
Directing Master Class with Craig Zobel | Monday, Oct. 4, 5pm PDT
Creating the Look: Jade Healy | Monday, Oct. 4, 7pm PDT
Creator Talk: Sierra Teller Ornelas | Tuesday, Oct. 5, 5pm PDT
Editing Masterclass: Fred Raskin | Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2:30pm PDT
In Conversation With Jonas Poher Rasmussen | Wednesday, Oct. 6, 5pm PDT
Doc Talk: My Name is Pauli Murray | Thursday, Oct. 7, 3pm PDT
Made in BC: In the Writers’ Room with Family Law | Thursday, Oct. 7, 6pm PDT
The Many Saints of Newark: Directing Masterclass with Alan Taylor | Friday, Oct. 8, 6pm PDT
Creator Talk and Screening: British Columbia: An Untold History | Friday, Oct. 8, 8pm PDT

Tickets and Information
VIFF Connect Single Tickets for Films and Talks $10
VIFF Connect Festival Pass $80 Regular / $110 Household
VIFF In-Cinema Single Tickets for Films and Talks $15
VIFF In-Cinema Special Presentations $17
VIFF Limited Edition Festival Pass $725
40th Anniversary 4-Ticket Pack $48 Regular / $32 Student / $44 Senior
VIFF AMP Pass In-person $75 Regular / $25 Student
VIFF AMP Pass Online $25 Regular / $15 Student
Totally Indie Day In-person $45 Regular / $25 Student
Totally Indie Day Online $25 Regular / $15 Student
VIFF Immersed Free
Single tickets and passes available at

To explore VIFF’s complete 2021 programming, click here.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.