Vancouver film fest to open with ‘Tiger’

Record 54 films from Asian filmmakers to unspool

VANCOUVER — Films from Asia, Quebec and Western Canada will highlight the 19th Vancouver Intl. Film Festival, which opens Friday and runs through Oct. 5.

A total of 200 feature films and 102 shorts will screen at eight venues, up from six last year. The feature film roster includes 18 world, 25 international and 27 Canuck premieres.

A record 54 films from Asian filmmakers will unspool, up from 37 shown here last year. Director Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” will open the fest.

Asian history

Vancouver has the longest ongoing program of Asian films in North America.

“Bundled,” helmed by Taiwan’s Singing Chen, as well as Shindo Kaze’s “Love/Juice” and Shinozaki Makota’s “Not Forgotten,” both from Japan, will have their world premieres at Vancouver. They are up for the Dragons and Tigers Award for creative and innovative first or second feature-length films from Pacific Rim Asia.

Also entered in this year’s Dragons and Tigers competition are the curiously titled “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (South Korea), “Body Drop Asphalt” (Japan), “Die Bad” (South Korea), “Fah Talai Jone” (Thailand), “Memento Mori” (South Korea) and “Mysterious Object at Noon” (Thailand).

Despite the city’s minuscule French-speaking audience, event will screen 26 films from Quebec — more than the number shown at the larger, business-oriented Toronto fest earlier this month.

“Quebec films were largely overlooked at Toronto, and Vancouver is recognizing the resurgence in Quebec filmmaking,” fest spokesperson Lerie Davies told Daily Variety.

Helmer Denis Villeneuve’s French-language feature “Maelstrom” heads the big slate of Quebec pics, which also include the English-language features “Cafe Ole,” a romantic comedy by Richard Roy (a world premiere), and Lewis Furey’s black comedy “Rats and Rabbits” (North American premiere).

Ten features from British Columbia, and one each from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, will unspool, compared with 18 features from Western Canada in 1999.

Projected audience for the fest is 135,000 — about the same as last year, though the event now spans 14 days, down from the 17-day runs of previous years.

“Our industry partners have been pushing us to become a standard international 10-day event, but to balance our audience’s best interests, we are going two full weeks,” fest director Alan Franey told Daily Variety.

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