VIFF unveils 11 Feature Films in the anticipated 2015 BC Spotlight Program

VANCOUVER: The Vancouver International Film Festival has announced its highly anticipated BC Spotlight program that showcases some of the year’s best British Columbia-produced films at the 34th festival running September 24-October 9.

The 11 feature films confirmed include the world premieres of Jordan Paterson’s Tricks on the Dead: The Story of the Chinese Labour Corps in WWI and Done Four Productions’ and director Nicholas Humphries’ Charlotte’s Song, the North American premiere of Connor Gaston’s The Devout and the Canadian premieres of Kyle Rideout’s Eadweard and Nicolas Citton’s My Good Man’s Gone.

The program also features the latest work from several filmmakers already much-loved by VIFF audiences. Mina Shum returns with her first foray into documentary filmmaking with Ninth Floor, an examination of 1969’s Sir George Williams Affair. After bows at Rotterdam and TIFF, Mark Sawers’ satirical mockumentary No Men Beyond This Point introduces viewers to a speculative world in which males face extinction. Charles Wilkinson’s gorgeously shot Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World, which scored Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs this spring, details the Haida Nation’s past travails and plans for a sustainable future.

Lewis Bennett’s The Sandwich Nazi, Sasha Snow’s Hadwin’s Judgement and Damien Gillis and Fiona Rayher’s Fractured Land are other confirmed VIFF features that also connected with audiences at North America’s largest documentary festival.

VIFF offers two significant BC Spotlight awards. The Best BC Film award includes a $10,000 development bursary provided by the Harold Greenberg Fund plus $15,000 of post-production services from Encore Vancouver. Meanwhile, the BC Emerging Filmmaker award consists of a $7,500 cash prize sponsored by the Union of BC Performers and ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society, as well as a $10,000 equipment credit supplied by William F. White. (This award is open to narrative films that are signatory to a UBCP/ACTRA agreement.) Winners will be determined by the members of the BC Spotlight jury and announced at an awards ceremony on Saturday, October 3, 2015. Details for the BC Spotlight Awards Gala will be released next week.

Launched in 2013, this showcase of British Columbia productions has earned the highest attendance ratings in VIFF’s history. Traditionally, the dedicated promotional microsite receives over 10,000 unique visitors in the two weeks preceding the festival, while the #mustseebc campaign generates over 100,000 social media impressions.

Additional films will be announced on a weekly basis, with the full festival program revealed onSeptember 3, 2015.

The list of BC Spotlight films added to the VIFF lineup follows.

Charlotte’s Song
(Nicholas Humphries) World Premiere

Think Pan’s Labyrinth meets Carnivale and you’ll still be unprepared for this astonishing debut from Done Four Productions and director Nicholas Humphries. In this Dust Bowl-era reimagining of The Little Mermaid, an amphibious siren (Katelyn Mager) falls prey to a nefarious benefactor (Game of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon) and ends up in a magical turf war. Sumptuous production design and sinister storytelling conjure a seductive fantasy world.

The Devout
(Connor Gaston) North American Premiere

After his terminally ill daughter (Olivia Martin) claims to have had a past life as an astronaut, a Christian teacher (Charlie Carrick) experiences a profound crisis of faith. Obsessively seeking answers, he risks his marriage and his remaining days with his child to determine whether she’s lived before… and might live again. Reflective and provocative, Connor Gaston’s debut is one of the year’s most unique Canadian features.

(Kyle Rideout) Canadian Premiere
With a mesmerizing Michael Eklund starring as photographer Eadweard Muybridge, Kyle Rideout crafts a complex and compelling portrait of the man who’d be immortalized as both the godfather of cinema and the last American to receive a justifiable homicide verdict (for killing his wife’s lover). As fascinations distort into obsessions, Rideout skilfully employs techniques indebted to the infamous pioneer to convey Muybridge’s psychological unravelling.
Fractured Land
(Damien Gillis, Fiona Rayher)

What would it be like to live alongside one of the shapers of human events, in their youth, before they transformed history? In Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis’ documentary, we follow Caleb Behn, a young Dene lawyer locked in a battle with oil and gas industry. He may become one of this generation’s great leaders, if he can discover how to reconcile the fractures within himself, his community and the world around him, blending modern tools of the law with ancient wisdom.

Hadwin’s Judgement
(Sasha Snow)

In his compelling drama/documentary hybrid, Sasha Snow explores the complexities of Grant Hadwin, a logging engineer who chainsawed down a 300-year-old sacred tree on Haida Gwaii as a protest against rampant logging in the area. Inspired by John Vaillant’s Governor General Award-winning book, The Golden Spruce, Snow focusses on the more mysterious elements of Hadwin’s story and fate, crafting “[a] gorgeously photographed, compulsively watchable, sympathetic doc…” — Globe & Mail

Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World
(Charles Wilkinson)

VIFF favourite Charles Wilkinson (Oil Sands Karaoke) returns with a visually stunning paean to breathtaking Haida Gwaii and the spirited people who populate it. The natural beauty of this culturally rich archipelago has served as a backdrop for tragedies such as outbreaks of smallpox and the exploitation of natural resources. And yet, the Haida Nation remains undaunted, preparing for a showdown over the Northern Gateway pipeline and planning for a more sustainable future.

Best Canadian Feature Documentary, Hot Docs 15

My Good Man’s Gone
(Nicolas Citton) Canadian Premiere

Arriving in Story, Arkansas (pop. 89), Joni and Wes realize they’re not in L.A. anymore. There to settle their estranged father’s estate, they’ve arrived on Decoration Weekend, when locals celebrate their dearly departed. As a clearer picture of their father emerges, decisions become less obvious. This affecting dramedy from Nicolas Citton (That Burning Feeling‘s screenwriter) is a bittersweet celebration of community and family.

Ninth Floor
(Mina Shum)

Over four decades after the infamous Sir George Williams Affair was sparked by allegations of faculty discrimination against black students, Ninth Floor reopens the file on a watershed moment in Canadian race relations and one of the most contested episodes in the nation’s history. Making an audacious foray into nonfiction, writer and director Mina Shum (Double Happiness) engages the original protagonists in a compassionate cinematic exercise of reckoning and redemption.

No Men Beyond This Point
(Mark Sawers)

In a world where women procreate asexually, male babies have become passé and an entire gender faces extinction… What’s a guy to do? Well, the youngest man alive (Patrick Gilmore), who toils as a housekeeper for a West Vancouver all-female family, is unaware that he’s about to become a key player in a battle for survival. Camera Shy‘s Mark Sawers is at the height of his satirical powers with this hilarious speculative mockumentary.

The Sandwich Nazi
(Lewis Bennett)

If you can’t take the nudity and coarse language, stay out of Salam Kahil’s deli. The moment Lewis Bennett’s fascinating documentary takes us inside the shop, the hilariously crass Salam lets fly with a barrage of profane insults and ribald anecdotes. As he rewrites his own history on a whim, we’re left to wonder how an irascible Lebanese male escort actually ended up in Surrey serving the largest sandwiches known to man. With humour and humanity, Bennett unearths the truth.

Tricks on the Dead: The Story of the Chinese Labour Corps in WWI
(Jordan Paterson) World Premiere

Jordan Paterson’s involving docudrama delves into a little known chapter of Canadian history. During World War I, 140,000 indentured Chinese labourers were secretly transported from Vancouver to Halifax in locked trains and then shipped to the Western Front to dig trenches and clear the dead. Through intrepid research, interviews, rotoscoped animation and re-enactments, Paterson backs Voltaire’s assertion that “history is nothing but a pack of tricks we play upon the dead.”

(Please note that titles are subject to change.)

VIFF festival passes and discounted ticket packs are available now at Films screening as part of VIFF will be announced on an ongoing basis, with full programming and tickets for individual screenings available online on Thursday, September 3. Stay connected with VIFF for updates and announcements by following @VIFFest on Twitter and visiting

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), the annual VIFF Industry Conference and the year-round programming of the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre. Its mandate is to encourage understanding of the world’s cultures through the art of cinema, to foster the art of cinema, to facilitate the meeting in British Columbia of cinema professionals from around the world, and to stimulate the motion picture industry in British Columbia. In its 34th year, the Vancouver International Film Festival welcomes the world to Vancouver from September 24-October 9, 2015 as it showcases the top BC, Canadian and international films and plays host to industry professionals from around the globe.

VIFF gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our Premier Partners Rogers Communications and Telefilm Canada. VIFF also extends its thanks and appreciation to the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development’s Community Gaming Grants program, as well as the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Building Communities through Arts & Heritage program.