YFS News

Jan. 31

International Film You Don’t Want to Miss at ALFF 2020

This is a film review written by “J.”

In addition to showcasing the best of contemporary Canadian cinema (fiction and documentary), the 2020 Available Light Film Festival boasts a bevy of acclaimed international films. Countries like Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, Syria, United Kingdom and the United States are all represented in this year’s line-up. The only hard question to ask yourselves is which films to prioritize? Well, here are three for starters.

Bacurau (Brazil/France): Set in a fictional small town in Brazil, when its matriarch dies, a floodgate of violent events are unleashed. When the small town itself gets erased from maps completely, it becomes vulnerable to evil outside forces. Soon, a group of mercenaries show up to take the town by brute force; but they underestimate the villagers who fight back to protect what is theirs in a climactic standoff reminiscent of “Seven Samurai.” Hypnotic visuals meets gonzo storytelling meets B-movie splatter gore. An interesting genre-bending hybrid that more than touches on the theme of colonialism.

One Man Dies a Million Times (USA): In a near-future Russian winter that evokes the war-torn landscape of the Siege of Leningrad, two people pay the ultimate sacrifice as they altruistically work to protect a seed bank to ensure the country’s future. Comparisons to another black-and-white Russian film (“Cold War”) are inevitable but valid. Never has desolation and poverty looked so striking. The film implements a rather sparse set design to depict a credible apocalyptic landscape. Such is the curse of guarding mankind's future Garden of Eden. One of the world’s most precious treasures indeed.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France): Late 18th century France. A young female painter is commissioned to paint a portrait of an aristocrat (the titular “Lady”) but must do so in secret. Artistic subterfuge eventually develops into a full blown tempestuous love affair, blurring the distinction between subject and artist, artist and subject. A magnificent slow burn that manages to capture the scorching white-hot intensity and emotional turbulence that happens when two people ache slowly in love. Beautifully acted two-hander as well with gorgeous cinematography.

And that’s just three. Nothing more than a tease for the next 10 days. With the world more interconnected now than ever, it pays to be experimental and eclectic when it comes to choosing what films to watch next. Be bold, go off the beaten path and take a leap of faith. Don’t be afraid of being disappointed either or you will never experience the joy of being wrong and surprised. Trust me - it’s more fun that way. Happy viewing to you all!

Find a full ALFF 2020 film program here (and don’t forget to redeem your film pass for tickets!).

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