(August 22, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) Since it`s founding in 1994 by Hussain Amarshi, the Canadian film distribution company Mongrel Media has carved out an ever more important niche for speciality, art-house and independent film. The director of programming at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) Alan Franey recently stated, “What strikes me as I survey Mongrel`s extraordinary catalogue is how much we have come to rely on them for supplying to Canada many of the world`s best films every year.”
In addition to that remarkable record, Mongrel Media is also the go-to distributor for many Canadian filmmakers and production companies. For example, far from Vancouver, Mongrel Media has a long list of films screening at this year`s Toronto International Film Festival including two Canadian films.
In Vancouver, organizers of this special tribute have selected ten films that illustrate the diversity and quality of Mongrel`s collection over four consecutive Sundays running up to the 2014 festival itself. These movies run the gamut from the Vancouver-made documentary, The Corporation (pictured above), to Pedro Almodovars Academy Award-winning (and very strange) romance Talk to Her, thrillers like A Prophet and The Lives of Others, both of which will screening on 35mm film.
Following is the complete list of 10 films screening during this special tribute to Mongrel Media:
A Seperation. Screening on Sunday, August 31 at 5:00pm. Even art-house aficionados were unprepared for the dramatic sophistication and depth on display in this blistering domestic drama from Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (About Elly; The Past). It was as if Ingmar Bergman had been reborn in Tehran, to dissect the dissolution of a middle class marriage. Dense, riveting and complex, this is masterly filmmaking that repays repeat viewing.
The Corporation. Also screening on Sunday, August 31 but at 7:30 pm. Why does the law bestow on private corporations the rights of individual citizens, but few of the responsibilites? Since its supremely successful release in 2003 The Corporation has only (and sadly) grown more timely. Screening here in a newly revised 2 hour cut specifically aimed at educational distribution networks.
The Lives of Others. Screening on Sunday, September 7 at 4:00pm. Directed by Florian Henkel von Donnesmarck, it is set in East Berlin in 1984. An agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.
Also screening on Sunday, September 7 but at 7:00pm, Director Jacques Audiard`s A Profit. More than one critic compared Jacques Audiard’s forceful, rich prison drama to The Godfather. Audiard uses the prison as a microcosm in this allegory for how to get ahead in the twenty-first century.
The delightful documentary Searching for Sugarman will screen on September 8 at 8:20 pm. One of the most acclaimed — and revelatory — music documentaries in the last few years, this Academy Award-winning film investigates, the life, work and mysterious disappearance of the 70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Screening in tribute to director Malik Bendjelloul, who committed suicide earlier this year.
The Secret in Their Eyes screens on Sunday, September 14 at 5:00pm. This 2009 Argentine film was directed by Juan José Campanella. It`s a multi-layered and poignant thriller that interweaves the personal lives of a state prosecution investigator (Ricardo Darin) and a judge, with a manhunt spanning twenty-five years.
At 7:30pm also on Sunday, September 14, the remarkable Spanish film Talk to Her from director Pedro Almodova will screen at the Vancity Theatre. One of Almodovar’s very best, this strange and lustrous love story involves two men and two comatose women (one of them a bullfighter). It sounds weird because it is weird — yet by the end it also feels very true, very natural, and totally heartfelt. The New York Times wrote, “Talk to Her is totally in love with passion, and with love.”
Screening on Monday, September 15 at 8:20pm is the Jonathan Demme documentary, Neil Young: Journeys. Released in 2011, Jonathan Demme returned to one of his favourite subjects, Neil Young, for their third collaboration in six years. This is an intimate and intense account of Young returning to his homeland and performing a couple of blistering shows at Massey Hall in the spring of 2011.
The last two films in this special 10-film tribute will screen on Sunday, September 21.
Of Gods and Men, was directed by Xavier Beauvois and made in Franace in 2010. It`s just over two-hours long and was loosely based on a real incident involving a Cistercian order of monks kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria. Beauvois’s film is an austere but gripping meditation on faith and fraternity. Of Gods and Men will screen at 6:00pm.
At 8:15 pm, the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son by director Kore-eda Hirokuzo will wrap the series. Released in 2013, it’s a nightmare scenario for any family: the unthinkable revelation that a maternity ward mix-up paired off mother with someone else’s child. A terrible mistake at any time, but for the truth to emerge some six years later … What to do with such information? Although his style is impeccably understated, director Kore-eda mines this rich dramatic seam for the emotional anguish you might expect, along with biting shards of class satire and — as always — a profound compassion for the children at the center of it all.