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VIFF 2021: Animation Preview [Capsule Reviews]

By David House [09.29.21]


On October 1st, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) returns with its 40th edition, running to October 11. This year's festival will be a hybrid of both in-theater and online screenings.


This year's program includes over 110 feature films and 77 shorts from around the world. The narrative and documentary films include an Altered States program, a series of BC and Canadian films, a Gateway program featuring East Asian artists, and a Music/Arts and Design program. Programs will be presented in 8 theaters, including the Playhouse, the Rio, the newly renovated Hollywood, and for the first time, the Kay Meek Art Center in West Vancouver. Every film will play in-cinema and 80% of the features can be streamed online across the province of British Columbia; with many of them available Canada-wide.


Here's a little preview of what can be expected from this year's festival. More details at VIFF.org.





Charlotte follows the tragically short life of a German Jewish artist from her life as a young girl in the 1930's, through the rise of Nazism, and her escape to France during WWII. The film has a wonderful and talented cast of actors voicing the characters, including Keira Knightley, Marion Cotillard, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, and Helen McCrory (in her final film).


While living with her grandparents in France, Charlotte discovers her tragic family history with depression coursing through their bloodline. The movie is an inspirational, but emotionally intense experience. Charlotte created a sequence of hundreds of auto-biographical gouaches that are acknowledged as her masterpiece legacy to us, and at the end of the film, we are treated to a wonderful parade of many of these actual paintings.



Fortune Favors Lady Nikuku is a lovely anime film from Japan about a mother and her teenage daughter living on a boat in a small seaside village.


This coming-of-age tale has several quirky characters, some fun musical moments, and large amounts of delicious food. It is highly entertaining and filled with humor although at its core there lies hidden a tender touching emotional wallop. This was the audience award winner for best animated feature at Fantasia 2021. It is filled with heart and highly recommended to please the whole family, from restless teenager to grumpy grandad.





Flee tells the extraordinary true story of Amin, a man forced to flee Afghanistan as a teenager with his mother and brother and his arduous journey to Denmark. Stuck in Russia they had to remain in hiding as undocumented refugees while trying to arrange with human traffickers to complete their escape.


The film effectively features a couple of different styles of animation and some live footage. There are a lot of harrowing moments in their journey and a lot of difficult emotional moments in Amin's remembering and recounting his story for the filmmaker. The film has already received award wins at 12 different film festivals, capped by the Grand Jury Prize at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.




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