Midnight’s Children, Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta’s tale of India in the years after it gained independence, will be the opening film of the Vancouver International Film Festival later this month.
The film, based on Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize-winning novel, has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this week.
Artistic director Alan Franey says VIFF looks for a Canadian film that’s a real crowd-pleaser to open the festival.
"We look for a film that is entertaining and will put people in a good mood and that reminds them what world cinema is about," he told CBC News.
Mehta has been a popular filmmaker at the Vancouver festival in the past, with much-loved works such as Water and Bollywood/Hollywood. Rushdie collaborated closely with her in making the film.
"It’s not just the literary value, it is a real pleasure to watch, you get into its pace because of the beautiful score," Franey said.
The full lineup of 380 films to be shown at VIFF was announced Wednesday. The Vancouver festival puts little emphasis on Hollywood stars and instead has a well-regarded East Asian program and a commitment to documentaries, which have been embraced by Vancouver audiences. About 100 of the films to be shown are docs.
The traditions of Japanese, Korean and Thai filmmaking go back to the dawn of cinema, but haven’t been widely recognized in the West, Franey said.
But many Vancouver film-goers embrace the young Asian talent on display because of the cultural diversity of the city, he said.
The Dragons and Tigers program opens this year with Chinese director Lou Ye’s Mystery, a romantic melodrama set in China’s emerging middle-class that descends into violence.
The festival is closing with Holy Motors, a film that is more "rock ‘em, sock ‘em challenging and will get people talking," Franey said.
Holy Motors, by French director Leos Carax, met with mixed reaction when it screened in Cannes this year. Carax is a sprite who likes to surprise people and he certainly did with his funhouse mirror of a movie about a man who awakes as one character, then is 11 different characters in the course of a day.
VIFF is scheduled from Sept. 27 to Oct. 12.