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TOP 10: Films You Must Watch at VIFF 2016

With Vancouver International Film Festival coming to a closure in 10 days we constructed our TOP 10 with the help of our film connoisseur and avid storyteller, Farhad Ghaderi.

10. Endless Poetry

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest piece of art, and sequel to his previous film The Dance of Reality. It’s the most accessible movie the director has ever made. Endless Poetry portrays Alejandro Jodorowsky's young adulthood, set in the 1940s and 50s, in the electric capital city of Santiago. There, he decides to become a poet and is introduced, by destiny, into the foremost bohemian and artistic circle of the time. He meets Enrique Lihn, Stella Diaz Varín, Nicanor Parra and many others of the country's young, promising and unknown artists who would later become the titans of Latin America's literature. A tale of poetic experimentation; the story of a unique youth that lived as not many before them had dared: sensually, authentically, freely, madly. Honourable Mention

9. The Salesman

A sudden eruption of violence creates an atmosphere of simmering tension between a husband and wife, in this work of slow-burning domestic suspense from Academy Award–winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation). “The Salesman” follows the couple after they move to a new flat in the centre of Tehran and whose lives dramatically change after an incident occurs in their new home that’s linked to the previous tenant.

8. Crosscurrent

Gao Chun (Qin Hao) is a young captain hired to take a small cargo ship up the Yangtze River. One day he finds a handwritten book of poetry hidden in the boat. The nameless poet’s abstrusely beautiful texts work their way into Gao’s soul. He disembarks at every port on his journey, and at each landing he has a vision of a mysterious woman, An Lu (newcomer Xin Zhilei)… or is it perhaps a series of women, issued from a magical alchemy the poems provoke inside his imagination? Their encounters become increasingly intimate, but once the ship passes the Three Gorges Dam she disappears. The movie was shot by legendary cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-bing and won Best Cinematography at Berlin16.

7. Paterson

Paterson is a bus driver and poet from the city of Paterson, New Jersey. Every day follows much the same pattern. After work, he returns home, has dinner with his wife Laura and walks his dog to the bar for just the one beer. Laura urges him to make copies of his lovely observational verse, but he never seems to get around to it. Eventually a small disaster threatens to shatter their idyll.

6. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki

As fiercely talented as he is modest, Finnish boxer Olli Mäki is swept into national stardom as he trains for a once-in-a-lifetime fight against the World Featherweight Champion. There's only one problem: he's just fallen in love.

5. American Honey

Star, a free-spirited teenager on the brink of adulthood, leaves her troubled home in the American Midwest and hits the road with a mag crew -- itinerant labourers who peddle publications door-to-door for long hours during the day and party hard at night, never certain where the job will lead next. Led by hard-driving manager Krystal and her seductive enforcer Jake, the crew becomes a surrogate family to Star, offering hope, love and the freedom that comes from being on the road.

4. The Handmaiden

Oldboy director Park Chanwook is a master of seduction. With this sexy, dangerous bodiceripper he has fashioned a cinema of striptease; as the film slowly unspools, we can’t help but marvel at its sensual flair. Divided into chapters, The Handmaiden’s plot twists as fast as its characters shift sexual allegiances. A Korean pickpocket is hired by a con-man to play the role of maid for a Japanese heiress, whose fortune he plans to steal. A ménage a trois materializes when passion butts heads with obligation and the maid and her wealthy employer form a bond that challenges the phallocentric posturing of their world.

3. Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming)

Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar lend their voices to this warm and witty animated feature by Ann Marie Fleming (The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam), about a young Canadian poet who undergoes a life-changing experience when she attends a poetry festival in Iran.

2. Hello Destroyer

Written and directed by Kevan Funk and photographed by Ben Loeb, pure and solid Vancouver talent. Funk’s feature debut shows how a young junior hockey player's life is shattered by an ingame act of violence. In an instant his life is abruptly turned upside down; torn from the fraternity of the team and the coinciding position of prominence, he is cast as a pariah and ostracized from the community. As he struggles with the repercussions of the event, desperate to find a means of reconciliation and a sense of identity, his personal journey ends up illuminating troubling systemic issues around violence.

1. Moonlight

A young man deals with his dysfunctional home life and comes of age in Miami during the "War on Drugs" era. The story of his struggle to find himself is told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality. One of the most poetic and profound films that have come out from the indie scene in the last few years.

BONUS: Cadence

Local filmmaker and UBC alumni Alex Lasheras and his amazing team pulled off one of the most anticipated films at this year’s VIFF. The story follows Cadence who is having her famous popstar boyfriend, Taylor Lake, over for a weekend getaway at her family's childhood farm. Their romance is quickly interrupted by the arrival of Taylor’s friends, KC and JJ, a pair of affable drunks who wreak havoc wherever they go. The boys' childish pranks around the property put Cadence on edge and push her to the limits. Unable to distinguish between her growing nightmares and confused reality, her world unravels into terror and tragedy, revealing the true story lurking beneath the surface

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