Programmers’ Picks!



Courtesy of our film programmers David Knipe and Vivian Belik, here are a few of our top suggestions that you just don’t want to miss!

GFF Senior film programmer David Knipe’s festival picks!


1. Western, dir. Valeska Grisebach
**Manitoba premiere – Feature film

One of my favorite films of the last year. Writer/Director Valeska Grisebach has achieved the near-impossible: to capture on film that precarious inter-zone between documentary and fiction. Through her subtle and affecting script which gives the non-professional actors enough room to truly inhabit their roles and her intelligent and surprising directorial choices, Grisebach has made the latest entry in the canon of Euro-westerns. And this is what Western is: a crafty revisionist’s take on the genre that sacrifices none of the beauty and tension of the greatest westerns.





2. Minding the Gap, dir. Bing Liu
**Manitoba premiere – Feature documentary
**Special Jury Award – Sundance Film Festival 2018

Minding the Gap 
seems tailor-made for me: three male friends growing up in the Midwestern United States are bonded over their shared love of skateboarding and unstable home lives. It is rare to see a documentary that speaks directly to disenfranchised male youths with such honesty. I think that these days characters and stories like this can slip through the cracks quite easily. They’re not exceptional. They’re not unique. But they are real. Director Bing Liu works over his footage, friends, and family with the clear-eyed purpose and direction that only a first-time filmmaker can have, free of the impressions that a more experienced one might impose. The emotions are raw and the story rings true. Hopefully, this film will help to bring more young men to the cinema – here is their reflection on-screen.




3.  The Rider, dir. Chloé Zhao
**Manitoba premiere – Feature Film
**I.C.A.E. Award– Cannes Film Festival 2017

Another modern take on the western makes my list of top picks. Something must have been in the air this year, as most of the films I gravitated to in my research had rural settings, which is fitting for Gimli. Like Western, The Rider uses non-professional actors – here playing versions of themselves not too far from reality – to suffuse the film with a tangible sense of place, time, and the people that occupy it. There is a gravitas at work in the filmmaking here. Chloé Zhao understands that the classic westerns were built on a feeling of grandness and scope, and not just that the landscape could evoke those feelings, but also that the minutest details of performance could affect tremendous and sublime emotion.





4. Shirkers, dir. Sandi Tan
**Manitoba premiere – Feature documentary
**World Cinema Award – Sundance Film Festival 2018

An incredible story of pure unadulterated creation borne out of youth and the search to find out what happens when it is lost. Shirkers plays out like a great mystery or adventure film where the protagonist quests to find the missing treasure. By the end of the journey, we realize that some things can never be retrieved no matter how hard we search for them. Life, time, and circumstance deprive us of the precious moments of our youth and instead, we end up with something different, perhaps far more valuable. Shirkers becomes the very treasure that it seeks. What was lost may never be found, but the creative legacy left in its wake is priceless.





5. Those Who Come, Will Hear, dir. Simon Plouffe
**Filmmaker in attendance!

Simon Plouffe’s Those Who Come, Will Hear is a poetic, form-bending documentary that thoughtfully explores several Indigenous languages of Quebec that are all threatened with extinction. Rediscovering and reclaiming language can be a radical act of decolonization. The film forms relationships between Indigenous languages and land, the past and future, and seeks to repair and uphold the inherent beauty and uniqueness of these native tongues before they tragically vanish forever. Those Who Come, Will Hear is a hopeful plea in its urging of how important it is to keep oral traditions alive from generation to generation. Director Simon Plouffe will be in attendance at this year’s festival!





6. A Ciambra, dir. Jonas Carpignano
**Manitoba premiere – Feature film

I love coming of age films. Even more so when they provide a window into a distant culture. A Ciambra is an immersive and intimate film that drops you into the middle of a world of heated family dynamics and strained economic and racial relations. Protagonist Pio guides us through his messy world with youthful vibrancy, and his electricity seems to infect everything around him. His attempts to carve out a place for himself in this world may seem familiar and to echo the history of youth-to-manhood films, but Jonas Carpignano has a real feel for impressionistic moments of reality and the psychological depth of his adolescent character that can be missing in similar films.






GFF Film Programmer Vivian Belik’s festival picks!



1. Exit Music, dir. Cameron Mullenneux
**Manitoba Premiere – Feature documentary

Exit Music was one of my favourite picks from Hot Docs this year where it topped audience choice lists. Pretty impressive for a film about death. At 28-years-old Evan Rice has to make a decision about whether he will live or die having struggled with cystic fibrosis since he was a kid. But he faces death with the kind of candor and wit that the rest of us, who spend our lives running away from death, could never imagine. The documentary is infused with three decades of archival footage as well as stop-motion animation and music composed by Evan. One of the most honest and moving docs of the year.




2. Roll Red Roll, dir. Nancy Schwartzman
**Manitoba Premiere – Feature documentary

On the heels of the #MeToo movement comes a documentary that stares bravely back at the sexual assault of women and girls. Amateur crime blogger Alex Goddard stumbles across a series of Twitter posts bragging about the assault of a 15-year-old girl in the community of Stubenville, Ohio. Determined to expose the high school football players who are behind the assault, Goddard mounts an online attack that shines a harsh light on the sexist undercurrents rippling through this rural town. Roll Red Roll will have you cheering for Goddard and others like her.





3. Terror Nullius, dir. Soda_Jerk
–Experimental short

The mother of all collage films, Terror Nullius, draws on dozens of films and tv shows to piece together a humorous and scathing look at Australian culture. As a sample-based film, there’s something undeniably satisfying about seeing characters from different films mashed together on-screen including Mad Max, Brokeback Mountain, Please Like Me and others. But underneath the impressive editing is a darker thesis on nationalism and how society treats women, Indigenous people, and asylum seekers. The film is so provocative some of its funders have publicly distanced themselves from Terror NulliusAnd yet, critics and audiences have lauded the creativity and cleverness of this story. Well worth the experience.





4. Shadow Nettes dir. Phillip Barker
**Best Canadian Short Film, Vancouver International Film Festival, 2017
**Manitoba Premiere – Short film

Shot on black and white film, Shadow Nettes is one of the most beautiful pictures we’re playing at this year’s festival. Directed by Ontario’s Phillip Barker this short film is a poetic look at the mythical lengths a “fishr” will go to in finding their catch. Barker has done production design for such films as American Gothic, Chloeand The Sweet Hereafter and his attention to detail in Shadow Nettes is no less impeccable. Part of the short film series, When You Light a Candle You Also Cast a Shadow.






5. Nuuca,dir. Michelle Latimer
**Manitoba Premiere – Short documentary

Rising Canadian director Michelle Latimer is celebrated for her work on the Vice series Rise and for the much-anticipated film version of The Inconvenient Indian. In Nuucathe short documentary which premiered at Sundance this past year, Latimer parallels two unlikely groups: the oil industry and Indigenous women and girls. With stunning cinematography, Latimer’s reflection on exploitation won’t easily be forgotten. Part of the short film series, Rinse and Repeat.




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