'Blindness' to open festival; 'Class' closes

VANCOUVER — Fernando Meirelles’ thriller “Blindness,” the opener at Cannes earlier this year, performs a similar duty at the 27th edition of the Vancouver Film Festival on Thursday. Event bookends its 16-day run with Laurent Cantet’s classroom drama “The Class,” winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Fest director Alan Franey said there will be 573 screenings, topping the 546 that drew 150,000 last year. More than 350 films from 60 countries will unspool at 10 Vancouver venues. Franey said fare reflects Vancouver’s cosmopolitan makeup and tastes.

The fest’s Canadian Images section opens Saturday with Charles Martin Smith’s “Stone of Destiny,” about four students who took the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950 in order to return it to Scotland.

Four other films in the Canadian Images series are also being honored with special presentations. Kari Skogland’s “50 Dead Men Walking” inspired by the story of Martin McGartland, who was recruited by the British Special Branch to work inside the IRA. Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration,” winner of the Ecumenical Prize at Cannes this year, stars Devon Bostick as a troubled teen who spreads a false rumor via the internet, unleashing a firestorm.

The first Canuck stop-motion animated feature, Neil Burns’ “Edison and Leo” is a fairy tale about a quirky inventor who endangers his family in a quest to create a viable electric light bulb.

Deepa Mehta’s drama “Heaven on Earth” concerns a young bride who leaves her home in India for Canada. Special presentations in other fest sections include two portraits of postwar Vancouver, “In the Daytime” (1949), directed by Stanley Fox and Peter Varley, and “Summer Afternoon” (1956), directed by Ron Kelly.

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