Thirty-five is a magic number for the Vancouver International Film Festival this year.
Not only does the festival turn that age in 2016, but its closing gala film, Terrence Malick’s long-awaited Voyage of Time, also took some 35 years to make its way to the screen.
The film will be closing the festival at Telus World of Science on Oct. 14 and will be presented on — what else? — 35mm film in Imax. Narrated by Brad Pitt, the documentary presents the origins of the universe and life in our world in a grand visual experience.
Opening the festival this year will be Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins as Maud Lewis, an arthritic Nova Scotia woman who overcame her disability to become a renowned Canadian folk artist. The movie also stars Ethan Hawke as her husband. Director Aisling Walsh will be introducing the film on opening night Sept. 29.
Special guests at VIFF this year will include author Eckhart Tolle, who will introduce the film adaptation of his book Milton’s Secret on Sept. 30, as well as The Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker on Oct. 1. Other guests expected to attend include award-winning Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany to present drama The Other Half, and X-Files creator Chris Carter, who is being given the Industry Builder Award on Oct. 7.
More than 300 films will be presented at VIFF this year in a format emphasizing social interaction, workshops and audience feedback.
“Content creation is changing,” VIFF executive director Jacqueline Dupuis said at a media event Wednesday morning. “We need to be where the audiences are and where they’re going.”
The complete program for this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival will be available online Sept. 8 at viff.org. Physical copies will be available Sept. 9.
The three finalists in the Refugee Crisis short film competition were also announced Wednesday by Radcliffe Foundation founder Frank Giustra.
The three films, selected by a jury that included Sophie Trudeau, Atom Egoyan and Sarah McLachlan, are: Show The World by Michele Hozer and Roxana Spicer; Humanity by Zeeshan Parwez; and Helpful Hand by Alexandru Nagy.
Public voting starts Sept. 14 at refugeestories.viff.org.