Ten Days of Film Excellence at EIFF!

Scene from director Tom Morris’ Blowing Up Right Now

Landmark Cinemas
Thursday, September 26 – Saturday, October 5

by Gabriela Delgado Hinojosa

This upcoming weekend (September 26 through October 5) Edmonton welcomes one of its most anticipated events, the prestigious Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF), a celebration of Canadian and international cinema. Edmonton has been hosting the festival for over 30 years, highlighting both emerging and established talents in the film industry from all over the world.

EIFF is highly regarded as an important distributor of high-quality cinema in Canada, and as an Academy Award qualifying festival for live action and animated short films. This year’s festival includes more than 150 films of varying genres that EIFF organizers hope can contribute to the appreciation of the art form.

This year’s edition promises to enchant its visitors with a plethora of short and feature length films, starting with a screening of writer/director Jeremy LaLonde’s James vs His Future Self at 6:30 pm on Thursday September 26th. LaLonde explains in a statement about his film that James vs His Future Self was made as an homage to his “childhood obsession with Back to the Future” and other edgier time travel movies, such as Groundhog Day and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The opening event includes an After-Party and a brief discussion of the film with LaLonde and actor Jonas Chernick, who gives life to the titular character in the film.

Attendees can expect a wide arrange of films in the following days, with notable entries including director Michael Masarof’s independent film First Love, and François Girard’s The Song of Names.

 The first is an 80-minute-long drama that follows estranged twins Rebecca (Annie Heise) and Matthew (Aaron Costa Ganis) through their personal struggles with family and work, and was largely based on Masarof’s own experiences as a twin. Masorof explains that he “wanted to upend the expectations we have of familial relationships in movies” by exploring and questioning the simpler things that are usually overlooked.

First Love promises to be an entertaining and insightful piece that can be enjoyed this Friday (Sept 27), with the director himself attending – he will stick until the end for a round of Q&A.

Girard’s The Song of Names, on the other hand, was based on the 2002 Whitebread Award-winning novel of the same name by British music critic and novelist Norman Lebrecht, and tells the story of Martin and Dovidl (played by Tim Roth and Clive Owen respectively), two young boys who grow up in London during World War II. The film first premiered earlier in the month during the Toronto International Film Festival and will be screened on Saturday September 28.

Late French New Wave pioneer Agnès Varda’s autobiographical documentary Varda and Elton John biopic Rocketman will have a screening this Saturday (Sept 28) at 11 am and 4 pm respectively. Varda’s take on a visual eulogy is a 115-minute exploration of her past and present, a recollection of photographs, installations and testimonials that she puts together like a collage to construct an image of Agnès Varda.

Rocketman officially premiered in May at Cannes Film Festival, but has been brought back for EIFF as a celebration of Sir Elton John’s current tour. The film currently holds a certified fresh 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and was well received at Cannes and during an Academy screening, where it was awarded with a standing ovation.

Additionally, Parasite, director Bong Joon-Ho’s newest dark comedy thriller, will have two screenings during the festival, one on September 28th and the other on October 4th. Parasite won the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier this year, making Bong the first South Korean director to win such recognition. The film, which follows the fully unemployed Kim family and the richer Park family through their struggles with one another, is also South Korea’s entry for Best International Feature Film for the 92nd Academy Awards. Bong’s dramedy has been deemed “an urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes” by Rotten Tomatoes where it holds an astounding approval rating of 100%.

October will bring us Edmontonian Tom Morris’ romantic comedy Blowing Up Right Now (Oct 1) with Morris and writers Tyler MacIntyre & Chris Lee Hill in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. Blowing Up Right Now mixes a couple in the brink of a breakup with the impending doom of a missile threatening to destroy their Californian home. In an interview with EIFF, Morris explains the goal of the film: “Our goal was to create this high-stakes, breakup rom-com,” he says. “It’s the breakup you can’t escape from, where neither party holds back from saying what they’re thinking. They’ve been told they only have a half-hour to live, and they’re going to make it count.”

For the fans of mystery and sci-fi, Thursday (Oct 3) welcomes Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. The film follows young couple Gemma and Tom who, in search of the perfect home, find themselves trapped in a strange suburban neighbourhood made up of identical houses. Other entries, such as Frankie and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (both on Oct 4) and documentaries such as Canada’s The Secret Marathon (Oct 4) and Cuba’s Campesino (Oct 5) will be shown in the last few days of the festival.

EIFF will end on October 5th with a closing night gala that includes a screening of filmmaker Daniel Roher’s documentary ONCE WERE BROTHERS: Robbie Robertson & The Band, an in-theatre discussion and an After-Party from 6:30 to 11 pm.

For more information, check out EIFF’s official website.