The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) has just started. The Cultural service is proud to continue working closely with VIFF and supports the event.

This year’s Spotlight on France features the very best of contemporary French film, including work from contemporary masters and reigning veterans alike.

For more information about the festival and buy tickets, visit VIFF.

Amanda
Mikhaël Hers, 107 min

Going against the grain of expectation for a film that takes a Parisian terrorist-attack tragedy as its jumping off point, Mikhaël Hers’ honest and tender humanist drama has aimless, twenty-something slacker David (an irresistible Vincent Lacoste) taking on caregiving duties for seven-year-old niece Amanda (fresh-faced Isaure Multrier) when the girl’s mother is murdered. Lacoste and Multrier share a rare chemistry, making this “a quietly moving celebration of human resilience.” – Hollywood Reporter

By the Grace of God
François Ozon, 137 min

When François Ozon’s alternately compassionate and angry drama about sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic Church premiered in Berlin in February, the archbishop behind the cover-up, Philippe Barbarin, was still on trial in Lyon (he was convicted on March 7). Ozon’s focus is on a quartet of abuse victims, led by Melvil Poupaud’s family man, as the group presses for action against the priest who abused them and many others in the ’80s and ’90s. “Superbly acted and highly controlled.” – Screen

Deerskin
Quentin Dupieux, 77 min

Iconoclast Quentin Dupieux (remember Rubber’s avenging tire at VIFF 10?) teams up with French megastars Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel for this blackly comic look at one man’s love affair with… his fringed buckskin jacket? The purchase of said vintage jacket leads Georges (Dujardin) to throw his previous life in the bin, declare himself a filmmaker, and begin a descent into obsession that has had critics invoking everything from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer to Barton Fink to Peeping Tom. Singular.

I Lost My Body
Jérémy Clapin, 81 min

Naoufel is so caught up in his romantic pursuit of Gabrielle that he’s blissfully unaware that he’s attracted his own uncanny stalker. His severed hand has skittered out of a lab and is now winding its way through Paris’ arrondissements, intent on a reunion. Relating this macabre odyssey from the perspective of the indomitable hand, Jérémy Clapin nimbly shifts from romance to action to body horror without ever losing his handle on the fantastical tone that guides this wildly original animated feature.

Joan of Arc
Bruno Dumont, 137 min

How did a teenage peasant girl amaze, galvanize, and terrify the Christian world in the early 1400’s? This is the central mystery of Bruno Dumont’s stridently un-Hollywood but sharply focused depiction. What does he focus on? Northern France’s coastal landscapes, incredible vistas, and towering Christian cathedrals. The faces, odd mannerisms, and period logic of the villagers, soldiers, and religious patriarchy. The indelible, shining performance of Lise Leplat Prudhomme as a girl who had a vision.

Les Misérables
Ladj Ly, 102 min

Set in the same suburban Paris neighbourhood, Montfermeil, used by Victor Hugo as the location for the Thénardiers’ Inn in his Les Misérables, debuting director Ladj Ly’s gripping, incendiary police-thriller gives us a young cop, Stéphane (Damien Bonnard), who joins an Anti-Crime Squad team led by loose cannon Chris (co-writer Alexis Manenti, superb) and is soon immersed in a world of poverty and internecine power struggles. When images of police brutality start circulating, the s*** hits the fan…

Oh Mercy
Arnaud Desplechin, 119 min

Located in the north, close to the Belgian border, Roubaix is one of the poorest towns in France. It is also the hometown of VIFF fave Arnaud Desplechin (A Christmas Tale, My Golden Days), and he uses it to great effect as the setting for what is a radical change of pace for him: a police procedural centred on a true-life murder case. Roschdy Zem is the police captain investigating a routine arson that soon takes on a more sinister shape; Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier play the suspects he grills.

The Specials
Eric toledano & Olivier Nakache, 114 min

Vincent Cassel stars in Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s (Intouchables) humanist drama based on the true story of Stéphane Benhamou, a man who cares for those whose severe autism puts them outside the purview of the French state. With a brisk visual style and a sense of immediacy, the film conveys the heroic efforts of a few good people determined to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. “Powerful and accomplished… a rare film that comes both from the heart and reality.” – Screen

Who You think I Am
Safy Nebbou, 101 min

An acting tour de force from Juliette Binoche anchors Safy Nebbou’s twisty, near-Hitchcockian combination of romantic drama and dark comedy. Binoche is a 50-year-old lit prof who constructs a 24-year-old avatar online and becomes involved with a younger man (François Civil). Be prepared to be wrong-footed repeatedly: this fascinating film is not going where you think it is… “A compulsively watchable drama [that] taps into some genuinely intriguing themes… Binoche is terrific throughout.” – Screen