Top Picks from VIFF

The 31st Vancouver International Film Festival opens September 27 and runs to October 12. While it may not have the tabloid-fired star-power of its Toronto cousin, it still offers up some kickass big-screen fare. And, frankly, we count the total lack of a pouty Kristen Stewart as a plus. Let Toronto have her on the red carpet. We got our fill when she was filming those teen vampire movies here.

My Father and the Man in Black
Filmmaker Jonathan Holiff rediscovers his estranged father, the longtime agent to Johnny Cash, in this documentary that traces the Canadian-born impresario’s tumultuous relationship with his star client.

Holy Motors
Poetic French director Léos Carax follows a white stretch limo through the streets of Paris for one day, looking in on 11 characters, all played by frequent collaborator Denis Lavant. Look for buzzed-about performances by Eva Mendez as an international sexpot (naturally) and a musical interlude by Kylie Minogue.

I, Anna
Barnaby Southcombe directs his mother, veteran actress Charlotte Rampling, in this homage to film noir about an unlucky London divorcée who gets embroiled in a murder investigation led by a lovesick police detective (Gabriel Byrne).

As Luck Would Have It
A freak accident finds an unemployed advertising exec with a metal rod through his head, making him an instant celebrity as well as a political pawn. Meanwhile, his devoted wife (Salma Hayek) begins to question his motives in director Álex de la Iglesia’s bittersweet satire.

The Comedy

Rick Alverson turns meta on its douche-y ear with a black comedy about hipsters being hipsters in their natural habitat of Williamsburg, Brooklyn — all bolstered by a soundtrack featuring indie darlings Spokane and Gayngs that keeps things embarrassingly real.

Stories We Tell (pictured)
Oscar-nominated Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley’s docu-drama investigates her own family — specifically, whether the man who raised her is actually her father and how her search for the truth affects those around her.

The Sessions
Ben Lewis (Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) directs this based-on-a-true-story festival favourite about a man confined to an iron lung who decides to lose his virginity in his mid-30s with the help of a priest (William H. Macy) and a sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt).

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