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The Skin I Live In | La piel que habito (Feature)

(Spain, 2011, 117 mins, 35mm) | In Spanish with English subtitles
Pedro Almodóvar’s 18th film is a genre-bending, tongue-in-cheek medical melodrama/horror mash-up. Reunited with Antonio Banderas for the first time since 1990’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down, Almodóvar has adapted Thierry Jonquet’s twisty novel Tarantula into a kink-filled exploration of identity, sexuality and the abuse of power, meticulously crafted with the director’s trademark visual wit and subversive style.
Banderas relishes his anti-hero role, playing widowed plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard, inventor of a radical new synthetic skin process, possessor of a tragic past, and captor to the mysterious Vera (Elana Ayana), who dwells deep in the bowels of his ridiculously luxurious mansion. Almodóvar unfolds his over-the-top, multi-threaded narrative with masterful tension and an audience-challenging combination of deadpan performance and lurid plot twists, while referencing arthouse horror influences ranging from George Franju’s classic Eyes Without a Face to Dario Argento’s bloodsoaked, kitschy giallo oeuvre and Cronenberg’sbody shock. Hitchcock and Buñuel get a look in as well.
With darkly surreal cinematography courtesy of Almodóvar regular José Luis Alcaine, a terrific, Bernard Herrmann-esque score from Alberto Iglesias and the skewed, provocative spirit of Almodóvar at the helm, The Skin I Live In is both a return to the Spanish director’s transgressive roots and a wry summation of his career so far.
From now right through the festival we’ll be sending out festival previews and updates from our blog (Kreative Finds).

VIFF Film Guide

Alambamento  | Angola
(Angola, USA, 2010, 15 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Wed, Oct 12th 6:30pm
Pacific Cinematheque
On the way delivering the dowry for his fiancé in Luanda, Matias has an unexpected accident in front of her place that turns his joyous day into an absolute nightmare.

Las Acacia | Argentina
(Argentina, Spain, 2011, 85 min)
Cinema of Our Time
“A delicate yet rigorously executed road movie [that] touchingly unfolds a passing-ships encounter between a truck driver and a mother who hires him to get her from Paraguay to Buenos Aires. A debut feature for editor and documaker Pablo Giorgelli, the film represents a master class in low-key but wholly effective acting…”–Variety. Winner, Camera d’Or, Cannes 2011.

(Argentina, Switzerland, 2011, 99 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Three sisters, bound by the loss of their grandmother, are forced to redefine their relationship with one another in her home, burdened by her absence. Milagros Mumenthaler’s intimate debut explores the many hidden areas of human desire and the dichotomous relationships between family members, where so much and so little is known and shared. Winner, Golden Leopard, Best Actress, Locarno 2011.

(Argentina, Chile, France, 2011, 92 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Detailing an ill-fated love affair between two university students, Cristián Jiménez’s cleverly structured film commences with a little white lie (concerning reading Proust) and then unspools a deeply romantic tale that welcomes multiple interpretations. “One of the finest accomplishments from the freewheeling new generation of Chilean filmmakers.”–Variety

(Argentina, 2011, 74 min)
Nonfiction Features of 2011
Integrating archival footage and ten years of the present, Gastón Solnicki’s intimate, moving work is an observational document (of a family, their conflicts, arguments and crises), a critique (of class, in particular, the Jewish nouveau riche of post-WWII Argentina), and a celebration (of love, family bonds and the need to bear witness).

Sin Títula (Carta para Serra)
(Argentina, 2011, 23 min)
Spotlight on France
The present time is hunting my past, and both together will follow the future.

The Student
(Argentina, 2011, 110 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Santiago Mitre’s briskly paced debut brilliantly exposes the backroom dealings in the murky world of student politics, a microcosm for the world at large, in this fictional account of a young man’s discovery of his talent for politicking through his seduction of an assistant professor and activist. Winner, Special Jury Prize: Filmmakers of the Present, Locarno 2011.

The Water at the end of the World
(Argentina, 2010, 84 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Two sisters–one of them terminally ill–set course from Buenos Aires for Tierra del Fuego in Paula Siero’s heartfelt debut. “Melancholy is kept at a distance, yet wistful smiles of sadness are effortlessly evoked in the viewer, with several terrific lines adding just the right touch of humor.”–Variety

Box Man Hong Kong Lonely Heart
(Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, 2011, 4 min)
Cinema of Our Time
One desperate heart meets his female counterpart in this charming semi-experimental cartoon.

(Australia, 2010, 10 min)
Cinema of Our Time
The misinterpretation of their son’s drawing sends a couple on a fatal night of confessions and recriminations in this insightful black comedy about sexual relations.

(Australia, 2011, 91 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Karen (the striking Shai Pittman), newly out of prison, tries to get her life together in inner-city Adelaide in Beck Cole’s debut drama. Cole–a woman–fashions a powerful tale about the strength and resilience she finds in Karen and her fellow Aboriginal women, all looking for a break and a fresh start. “A deeply felt first feature from both actor and director.”–Screen

Les We Forget
(Australia, 2010, 13 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Payback can be sweet, even for old codgers Sam and Buck, who decide to take action against the local bully.

(Australia, 2010, 9 min)
Cinema of Our Time
On moving into a new manor, a young girl goes exploring. But playing tea-time in the garden leads to a lot more than she could ever imagine.

Mrs. Carey’s Concert
(Australia, 2011, 95 min)
Nonfiction Features: Arts and Letters
A glorious hymn to music and education, this sparkling [documentary] has perfect pitch. Directing team Bob Connolly (Black Harvest) and Sophie Raymond take a backstage look at a school orchestra performance and capture every nuance of the experience, ensuring audiences feel the drama as if it were their own children onstage…–Variety

Sleeping Beauty
(Australia, 2011, 102 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Novelist Julia Leigh’s haunting sex-and-the-subconscious debut features newcomer Emily Browning as a beautiful university student who allows herself to be drugged by older men and then manhandled while “asleep.” “Browning has gone the distance for her director and together, they have delivered something here that sometimes catches your breath.”–Screen Daily

(Australia, 2011, 11 min)
Cinema of Our Time
One evening while out for drinks with her girlfriends, Claire spots a guy she really likes at the bar, but when it slips out, the pressure mounts for her to call him.

Heaven and Earth
(Austria, 1979, 297 min)
Heaven and Earth
An epic two-part documentary that “teaches you to see and hear things in a completely new way” (Ulrich Gregor), Michael Pilz’s classic examination of life in a mountain village in the Austrian state of Styria uses an open approach that allows for quiet rhythms and a transcendental accumulation of poetic detail.

(Austria, 2011, 96 min)
Cinema of Our Time
Markus Schleinzer’s controversial debut about a pedophile and the boy he holds hostage owes a debt to Michael Haneke for its clinical style and nonjudgmental stance. “Look beyond the subject matter to the film itself and you will discover a rigorously responsible, endlessly disquieting piece of work, acutely sensitive to issues of exploitation.”–Screen Daily

Outside in | Escave Yourself
(Austria, 2011, 6 min)
Cinema of Our Time
A miserable old man tries to kill himself, but the plan goes horribly wrong and instead he is thrown out into the world he despises.

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