2011 ALFF at a Glance

Among the 25 international and Canadian features at next week’s Available Light Film festival are four of the films the Toronto International Film Festival ranked as “Canada’s top ten” for 2010 (www.tiff.net/topten.ca).

The Yukon Film Society’s ninth annual festival will also offer the official selections from three countries for the 2011 Academy Award for best foreign film.

Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s fourth feature Incendies, which follows 2009’s Polytechnique, is the official Canadian selection for foreign film Oscar.

It tells the story of twins who discover, at the reading of their mother’s will, that they have not only a brother, but a father whom they thought was dead.

Their mother’s posthumous request that they travel to her homeland to find them both sets in motion a voyage to uncover long-buried family secrets.

Montreal filmmaker Denis Côté’s feature Curling had its debuted at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival last August, winning best director and best actor honours.

The film’s lead, Emmanuel Bilodeau, plays a neurotic single father who is over-protective of his 12-year-old daughter, isolating her from the community around her for fear that she will be emotionally scarred by the outside world.

Their life is ultimately thrown into crisis by a series of unanticipated discoveries that unlock their psychological cage.

Modra is the first feature film solely directed by Toronto filmmaker Ingrid Veninger. It stars her 17-year-old daughter, Hallie Switzer as Lina, who plans to spend her summer holidays visiting her extended family in a Slovakian village with her boyfriend.

When he dumps her, she invites another boy from school to come with her, and her relatives mistakenly assume they are a pair. When the two discover they have little in common, and she becomes interested in a local boy from Modra, complications inevitably result.

This awkward and sensitive coming-of-age drama garnered critical praise at last year’s Toronto festival.

Trigger is the latest film from Toronto filmmaker Bruce McDonald. Originally intended as a follow-up to his Hard Core Logo, the film stars Toronto actresses Molly Parker and Tracy Wright as Vik and Kat, the two principals in a rock band named Trigger.

As the film opens, the two are reuniting in a restaurant, 10 years after the band’s acrimonious onstage breakup. This was the last performance for Wright, who died last June at age 50.

The Light Thief is Kyrgyzstan’s foreign film Oscar entry. It concerns an electrician in an isolated village high in the Kyrgyz mountains, who bypasses meters to help the impoverished villagers, and dreams of building windmills for cheap power. When a former villager shows up to buy land for Chinese investors, events take an interesting turn.

Thailand’s Oscar selection, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, is a haunting account of a dying man who retires to the countryside to spend his last days cared for by friends and relatives.

He’s visited by his long-deceased wife, and together they voyage forth on a discovery of his past incarnations.

The Available Light Film Festival runs February 9-13 at the Yukon Arts Centre.

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