Since its rebirth in 1982, the Vernon Film Society has worked hard to showcase alternative films, rather than screening the big Hollywood blockbusters.
With that mantra in mind, the non-profit society presents its annual Fall Film Festival Nov. 27-30 at the Vernon Towne Cinema.
“This gives an opportunity for us to open for a broader audience,” said Vernon Film Society director Linda Wills. “People have been happy with what we’re presenting.”
In partnership with the Film Circuit, the Toronto International Film Festival’s film outreach program with 180 groups in 160 communities across Canada, the Vernon Film Society — which boasts fourth place in the circuit for attendance — presents eight films over the four day period.
Opening up the festival is Loving Vincent, Monday, Nov. 27 at 5:15 p.m. Loving Vincent is a fully-painted animated feature, starring Douglas Booth and Oscar-nominated Saoirse Ronan and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman. The film explores the life and controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh, told by his paintings and by the characters that inhabit them. The intrigue unfolds through interviews with the characters closest to Vincent and through dramatic reconstructions of the events leading up to his death.
Screening Monday, Nov. 27 at 7:45 p.m. is Tulip Fever. In 17th Century Amsterdam, an orphaned girl Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is forcibly married to a rich and powerful merchant Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz) — an unhappy arrangement that saves her from poverty. After her husband commissions a portrait, she begins a passionate affair with the painter Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan), a struggling young artist. Seeking to escape the merchant’s ever-reaching grasp, the lovers risk everything and enter the frenzied tulip bulb market, with the hope that the right bulb will make a fortune and buy their freedom.
Kicking off the Tuesday, Nov. 28 offerings is Rebel in the Rye at 5:15 p.m. The world of legendary writer J. D. Salinger is brought vividly to life in this revealing look at the experiences that shaped one of the most renowned, controversial and enigmatic authors of our time. Set amidst the colorful backdrop of mid-20th century New York City, Rebel in the Rye follows a young Salinger (Nicholas Hoult) as he struggles to find his voice, pursues a love affair with famed socialite Oona O’Neill and fights on the frontlines of World War II. It’s these experiences that will inform the creation of his masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye, bringing him overnight fame, and notoriety, and leading him to withdraw from the public eye for the rest of his life.
Also screening Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7:45 p.m. is Nowhere to Hide. Nowhere to Hide follows male nurse Nori Sharif through five years of dramatic change, providing unique access into one of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible areas – the triangle of death in central Iraq. Initially filming stories of survivors and the hope of a better future as American and Coalition troops retreat from Iraq in 2011, conflicts continue with Iraqi militias, and the population flees accompanied by most of the hospital staff. Sharif is one of the few who remain. When ISIS advances on Jalawla in 2014 and takes over the city, he too must flee with his family at a moment’s notice, and turns the camera on himself. Subtitled.
Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 5:15 is Graduation. Acclaimed filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days) returns with this searing human saga about a father driven to extremes in order to protect his daughter’s future. Romeo Aldea (Adrian Titieni) is a seemingly honest doctor who regrets having settled in his native Romania, a country still teeming with corruption and back dealings. He channels his ambitions for a better life into his teenage daughter, Eliza (Maria Dragus), who’s just one exam away from securing a scholarship to a prestigious British university. But when Eliza is attacked on the eve of her test, endangering her ability to pass, Romeo takes matters into his own hands to ensure her success. Winner of the Best Director prize at Cannes. Subtitled.
Rounding off Wednesday night is Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story at 7:45 p.m. Starlet. Screen siren. The most beautiful woman in the world. All are phrases used to describe ’40s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. Alexandra Dean’s illuminating documentary adds inventor to the list. Known for her matchless beauty and electric screen persona, Lamarr’s legion of fans never knew she possessed such a beautiful mind. An Austrian Jewish émigré who acted by day and drew mechanical and electronic inventions by night, Lamarr came up with a secret communication system to help the Allies to beat the Nazis. Weaving in Lamarr’s own voice from archival recordings, Dean reveals how Lamarr gave her patent to the Navy, received no credit for her contributions and wound up impoverished in her latter years.
Screening Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5:15 p.m. is Lucky. The film follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist and the quirky characters that inhabit his off-the-map desert town. Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self-exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment. Acclaimed character actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut is at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection.
And rounding off Vernon Film Society’s Fall Film Festival is Things to Come, Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7:45 p.m. Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) teaches philosophy at a high school in Paris. Life is good. She is passionate about her job and particularly enjoys passing on the pleasure of thinking. Married with two children, she divides her time between her family, former students and her very possessive mother. One day her husband abruptly announces he is leaving her for another woman, and her mother passes away. With freedom thrust upon her, Nathalie must reinvent her life. Subtitled.
Tickets are available for $7 per film or $30 for five films. Cash only. Advance tickets and passes are available at the Bean Scene Coffee House and the theatre. The registered not-for-profit society screens films every second Monday during the fall, winter and spring seasons, with films showing every third Monday during the summer.