Dragons and Tigers series highlights Asian pics

VANCOUVERVancouver Film Festival may not have the mega-watt star appeal of some other festivals, but what it misses in celebrity appeal, the fest makes up in the variety of films that it serves up to eager audiences.

The event, which runs Sept. 27 to Oct. 12, boasts a line up of 380 films — including 235 or so features — from 75 countries. It kicks off on Thursday with a presentation of Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children,” based on Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize-winning novel.

The fest reflects the city’s multi-cultural, laid-back attitude, shining the spotlight on eclectic films from around the world, with a special emphasis on Asia and Canada.

The Dragons and Tigers series will feature pics from South Korea, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. It is the largest annual exhibition of East Asian films outside of Asia, and carries an annual $5,000 award that will be awarded to an emerging director from East Asia.

Fest also puts a strong emphasis on home-grown cinema with its Canadian Images Series, which features an assortment of titles including Kim Nguyen’s “Rebelle,” Canada’s entry for best foreign-language Oscar (“Trailer Park Boys” creator), Mike Clattenberg’s comedic working-class stiff tale “Moving Day,” and Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner, “Amour.” The Best Canadian feature film will receive a $10,000 juried prize on Oct. 12.

This year, fest will also marry together sound and sight with music-focused pics like “Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey,” Andy Keen’s Tragically Hip concert doc, “Bobcaygeon,” and “A Late Quartet.”

Other highlights include Keanu Reeves’ doc “Side By Side” (which gets its Canadian premiere at the fest), Nisha Pahuja’s “The World Before Her” (Best Documentary Feature at Tribeca and Best Canadian Feature Doc at Hot Docs), Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s “No” (starring Gael Garcia Bernal), and galas such as Lou Yi’s “Mystery,” a China-France co-production, and Barnaby Southcombe’s “I, Anna.”

French director Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors,” a strange pic about a shadowy man who travels between multiple parallel lives, will close the fest.

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