China’s “Monkey King” in 3D at Vancouver festival

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Vancouver International Film Festival

Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tional Film Festival

At this year’s Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, China’s The Mon­key King gets an eye-popping 3D restora­tion on its 50th anniver­sary; A Liar’s Auto­bi­og­ra­phy (also in 3D) cel­e­brates Gra­ham Chapman’s inim­itable work with Monty Python; and Per­sis­tence of Vision tells the story of what could have been the great­est ani­mated fea­ture of all time, The Thief and the Cob­bler.

There’s plenty for the kids, but there’s also a tremen­dous seri­ous­ness of pur­pose and heart­felt artistry to the selec­tion of ani­mated fea­tures and shorts in this year’s fes­ti­val, tak­ing place from Sep­tem­ber 27 to Octo­ber 12.

Comic book super­heroes may rule the mul­ti­plex, but in the wide world of cin­ema, more rar­efied and grown-up tastes are being well served! More and more, the use of ani­ma­tion sequences and devices enhance “photo-based” movies, and while graphic nov­els break new artis­tic ground, along comes Car­toon Col­lege to intro­duce us to the great ani­ma­tors of the printed page.

Among the car­toon selec­tions at the Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tional Film Festival:

The Mon­key King — Uproar in Heaven 3D (Da nao tian gong)
China; dirs. Su Da and Chen Zhi­hong
A grand spec­ta­cle, Su Da and Chen Zhihong’s 50th anniver­sary 3D restora­tion of China’s most lauded ani­mated fea­ture is truly a spe­cial event. Based on the the Ming Dynasty clas­sic Jour­ney to the West, it chron­i­cles the adven­tures of the mag­i­cal Mon­key King, a mis­chie­vous char­ac­ter who cre­ates havoc in the palace of Heaven by refus­ing to kow­tow to the Celes­tial Jade Emperor.… Bring the kids! Clas­si­fi­ca­tion: TBA.

A Liar’s Auto­bi­og­ra­phy: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Gra­ham Chap­man
United King­dom; dirs. Bill Jones, Jeff Simp­son and Ben Tim­lett
Ready for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent? In the spirit of Gra­ham Chapman’s five-author, highly fic­tion­al­ized auto­bi­og­ra­phy, this car­ni­va­lesque 3D adaptation/animation enlists three direc­tors (Bill Jones, Ben Tim­lett and Jeff Simp­son), 15 ani­ma­tion stu­dios (each using dif­fer­ent tech­niques) and the remain­ing Monty Python mem­bers (minus Eric Idle) to pay irrev­er­ent trib­ute to “the dead one.”

Ernest et Céles­tine
France/Belgium/Luxembourg; dirs. Ben­jamin Ren­ner, Vin­cent Patar and Stéphane Aubier
Like-minded Ernest, a busk­ing bear, and Céles­tine, a boho mouse, forge an inter­species friend­ship and instantly become a cause célèbre. Team­ing with Ben­jamin Ren­ner, A Town Called Panic’s Vin­cent Patar and Stéphane Aubier curb their anar­chic ten­den­cies and del­i­cately craft “a cau­tion­ary fable where friend­ship tries to stand the test of big­otry and intol­er­ance.” — Hol­ly­wood Reporter. To be clas­si­fied so all ages can attend!

McDull: The Pork of Music
North Amer­i­can Pre­miere
Hong Kong; dir. Brian Tse
Hong Kong’s fun­ni­est and most sub­ver­sively pop­u­lar avatar, the car­toon piglet McDull, is back in an ani­mated musi­cal by Brian Tse and Alice Mak. Mix­ing hilar­i­ous, weird and deli­ciously pro­fane humor with ultra-sharp social cri­tique, McDull & Com­pany sing about HK’s unique­ness with a poignant charm all their own.

Con­sum­ing Spir­its
U.S.A.; dir. Chris Sul­li­van
In this spi­ral­ing ani­mated tale, the darkly humor­ous, seem­ingly ran­dom mis­ad­ven­tures of three Rust Belt grotesques coa­lesce into a sin­gle affect­ing nar­ra­tive. “Shot frame-by-frame using mod­els, multi-plane paper cutouts and tra­di­tional pencil-drawn car­toons… this labor of love from do-it-all ani­ma­tor Chris Sul­li­van has the same rough-edged, can­tan­ker­ous charms as the char­ac­ters that pop­u­late it.” — Vari­ety

Car­toon Col­lege
World Pre­miere
U.S.A.; dirs. Josh Mel­rod and Tara Wray
This bit­ter­sweetly charm­ing doc­u­men­tary intro­duces us to some of the world’s great­est graphic nov­el­ists, and the extra­or­di­nary col­lege in White River Junc­tion, Ver­mont, where the comic artists of tomor­row get inspired and get to work! Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Art Spiegel­man, Françoise Mouly and Scott McCloud are among the many artists to take us into their imag­i­na­tive inner lives and craft. The fab­u­lous sound­track includes an orig­i­nal score by Jason Zumpano.

Per­sis­tence of Vision
World Pre­miere
U.S.A./United Kingdom/Canada; dir. Kevin Schreck
Stu­pen­dous! After toil­ing on his mas­ter­piece The Thief and the Cob­bler for 28 years, top British ani­ma­tor Richard Williams — famous for Who Framed Roger Rab­bit — saw it wrested from his con­trol and sav­agely recut. Pair­ing unre­leased scenes from Williams’ vir­tu­oso fairy tale with hor­ror sto­ries of cre­ativ­ity falling prey to com­merce, Kevin Schreck takes us inside “the great­est ani­mated film never made.”

Wrin­kles (Arru­gas)
Spain; dir Igna­cio Fer­reras
By turns mov­ing and funny, Igna­cio Fer­reras’ ani­mated tale of two elderly men who become friends at a care facil­ity for the aged “has heart and humor.… Wrin­kles ranks as an extra­or­di­nar­ily involv­ing and poignant film… likely to inspire laugh­ter and deep sym­pa­thy for the char­ac­ters, if not tears, in equal mea­sure.” — SBS Film.
Win­ner, Goya Awards, Best Ani­mated Film, Best Adapted Screen­play, 2012.

Sneak pre­view guides of the Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val hit the street Sep­tem­ber 1, while the VIFF Advance Box Office opens Sep­tem­ber 10. The Offi­cial Pro­gram Cat­a­logue is on sale Sep­tem­ber 15.

Watch for the fab­u­lous Hayao Miyazaki series com­ing to the PCP and Vancity The­atre in late fall!

Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val film info is avail­able at (604) 683-FILM (3456). The VIFF office is at (604) 685‑0260.

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