Victoria Film Festival
(Portrait of a Lady on Fire/Letterboxd)

The Victoria Film Festival is fast approaching, with its opening night just two days away on Friday, February 7th! 

As always, the film festival offers a broad mix of local gems and international hits, with all sorts of documentaries and short films in between. This year’s showings are even more varied and interesting than before, and it can be hard to narrow down what to watch.

With that in mind, here are Victoria Buzz’s five picks for the festival — we’re sure you’ll enjoy them.

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

One of the year’s most tender and touching films, France’s Portrait of A Lady on Fire follows a young, soon-to-be-married woman and the female painter commissioned to paint her. But the two women become entwined in a heart-breakingly hypnotic film that is as mesmerizing as the embers in the heart of a bonfire.

This is the film of 2019 to watch, and both showings will surely be sold out. Get your tickets early!

  • When: 
    • Wednesday, February 12th, at 6:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, February 16th, at 12:15 p.m.
  • Where:
    • (Wednesday’s showing) Dave Dunnet Theatre, Oak Bay High School, 2121 Cadboro Bay Road
    • (Sunday’s showing) SilverCity Theatres, 3130 Tillicum Road

Open for Submissions

Built in the veins of This is Spinal Tap! and Best In Show, this mockumentary is as hilarious as it is local — that is to say, very! 

After the sudden death of the Executive Director, Desmond Baggs must become the new film director for The Victoria Festival of Cinematic Arts (sound familiar?) and lead his festival through squabbling staff and saboteurs from all directions. 

It’s the perfect premise for any film festival goer, and the fact that it’s locally made makes it twice as much fun to watch! Plus, stick around for an appearance and Q&A with director Bryan Skinner!

  • When: Monday, February 10th, at 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: The Odeon, 780 Yates Street

Okko’s Inn

As magical and charming as any Studio Ghibli film, Okko’s Inn follows a small girl who moves in with her grandmother after both parents die. But then Okko discovers there are more guests in the inn — ghostly guests only she can see. The film is heartfelt,beautifully animated, and can be enjoyed by anybody.

What’s more, this film is showing as part of the festival’s Jammies and Toons event at the Vic Theatre. Head down there on February 16th in your pyjamas and get free coffee and cereal as well! It’s the perfect Saturday morning festival event.

  • When: Sunday, February 16th, at 11:30 a.m.
  • Where: The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street

Bellbird

Sure, you can watch all the David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky movies you want, but after awhile it’s easy to just feel saddened by it all. 

That’s what makes Bellbird such captivating fare. After New Zealand farmer Beth dies, her husband and son, Ross and Bruce, have to deal with their loss by talking to each other and their community — and, no, not just the cows. 

Heart-warming, comfy, and with all the charm of a Kiwi accent, this is the feel-good film of the festival.

  • When: 
    • Tuesday, February 11th, at 3:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, February 16th, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Where:
    • (Tuesday’s showing) The Odeon, 780 Yates Street
    • (Sunday’s showing) The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street

Body & Bones

Canadian films are well-known for dealing with loss, grief, and adulthood, and writer/director Melanie Oates’ debut film Body & Bones follows in that tradition with style and sensitivity. 

Set in Newfoundland, the film follows teenager Tess as she longs for her favourite musician Danny Sharpe, who then turns up in the teen’s kitchen one fateful morning. A story of loss, love, and heartbreak, this is a great chance to see and meet one of Canada’s finest up-and-coming directors. Oates herself will also be hosting a Q&A at this showing.

  • When: Wednesday, February 12th, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Capitol 6 Theatres, 805 Yates Street

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