Every film, short or feature, from filmmaker Riley Stearns is a gift to lovers of overstated, underplayed deadpan comedy. For his latest film, Dual, he adapts Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, The Double, into a science fiction treatise on cloning and really, really, not liking your clone. The film also offers Karen Gillan without layers of CGI or blue makeup, to play both the Prime and Beta versions of herself, alongside Aaron Paul.
Filmed entirely inside the world of VR, Joe Hunting's We Met In Virtual Reality is a vérité, animated entirely in VRChat, documentary which captures the surprising intimacy of a burgeoning cultural movement, and demonstrates the power of grass-roots online connection and communities; it's decidedly not Mark Zuckerberg's Corporate Metaverse.
The Saloum Delta in Senegal is a land of cannibal myths and cursed kings. Nowhere is this more true than in Congolese director Jean Luc Herbulot's supernatural skinwalker of a film that brings West African mythology to the criminal getaway thriller. Saloum layers in a healthy dose of the Agatha Christie 'whodunit' murder-mystery party, before shifting gears to whirling Diola dervishes, gris gris sorcery, star crossed lovers who flirt in sign language, even a child-soldier revenge drama.
Charlotte Gainsbourg turns the lens on her mother, the iconic singer and actress Jane Birkin, in Gainsbourg's directorial debut, Jane by Charlotte. The Cannes debuted docudrama focuses on the more intimate and private side of the family of French celebrity-royalty.
Get another taste of Charlotte Gainsbourg in a key supporting role of Michel Franco's seedy-classist thriller in Acapulco Mexico.
Sundown is a provocative (and darkly humorous) cinematic voyage of discovery: the enigma of Neil, a man (Tim Roth) who is out of place with everyone around him, his family, and the local woman (Iazua Larios) he befriends, and has sex with in his cheap hotel room. It is one of the best films of the past year, and sizzles (and confounds) on the big screen.
Bertrand Mandico's Dirty Paradise, aka After Blue is a wonderful display of the modern midnight movie experiment. A feminist fever dream, a surreal, post-apocalyptic "acid-western," and an erotic space-quest all rolled into one confounding package. The French film is on par with classic midnighters like Mexico's El Topo or Ethiopia's Crumbs.
Jeff Barnaby's angry, righteous, and painfully relevant Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013) will be screened, as Canada continues to reckon with its egregious sins towards its indigenous population. Red Crow Mi'kmaq reservation, 1976: By government decree, every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. "The film is told with a mix of lyricism and kicks to the gut, and is all the better for these shifts in tonality. It's remarkable how the narrative feels both highly specific to this community, yet near mythic in a more universal, classic sense." From Screen Anarchy's original review upon its release, it has only gotten stronger in the past nine years. A free National Canadian Film Day screening.
(You may recall Baraby's excellent, genre-ish, follow up, the zombie metaphor for the Oka crisis, Blood Quantum.)
A Newfoundland-set psychological horror? We are all in. Director Mark O'Brien tells the story of a man who feels the wrath of a vengeful God, after he is visited by a mysterious stranger. The Righteous stars Henry Czerny and Mimi Kuzyk, as a former priest and his wife who are grieving the death of their adopted daughter.
Beyond The Wasteland is a fan documentary about fans from around the world who go to extraordinary lengths in the name of George Miller’s amorphous, apocalyptic wasteland action flicks, from the original Mad Max in the 1970s until the recent Fury Road, but you know that the iconic The Road Warrior and its football BDSM wardrobe will be front and centre here.
A cast of actors will do a free live script reading of the local horror-comedy Husks from Calgary Underground alumnus, and always clever-funny Rob Grant. His previous film, Harpoon won the festival's audience award at the last 'in person' CUFF in 2019.
Saturday Morning animated oddities & favourites, bundled in a three-hour programme spanning content from the 1950s up to the 1990s, all punctuated with vintage commercials, PSAs and bumpers, with unlimited sugary cereal in the lobby. These throw-back events, which have been featured in Toronto, Montreal and Saskatoon, have been a stable at CUFF for the past several years, and are a lot of fun, whether you hail from GenX or GenZ.