Victoria-based documentarian Patricia Sims will premier her latest film When Elephants were Young on Wednesday

Vic Film Fest kicks off

The 2016 Victoria Film Festival is set to unleash the best in local, national and international cinema on Friday, Feb 5.

Entering its 22nd year as the cultural highlight for area cinephiles, the 2016 Victoria Film Festival is set to unleash the best in local, national and international cinema onto silver screens starting on Friday, Feb 5.

This year’s festival kicks off with the opening gala film My Internship in Canada, from Quebecois director Philippe Falardeau. Falardeau is best known for his 2011 film Monsieur Lazhar, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for that year’s Academy Awards. This time Falardeau is back with a comedy about a Haitian intern (played by Irdens Extanus) learning the ropes of Canadian politics.

Among the local films on the schedule is Victoria director Connor Gaston’s debut feature-length film The Devout, enjoying its hometown premiere at the Victoria Film Festival. The Devout played at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival to great acclaim and earned Gaston the title Best Emerging B.C. Director to boot. Showing a patience for storytelling ahead of his years, Gaston’s somber but beautiful drama tackles heady topics of faith and grief, but at its core is a touching tale of family. It’s not to be missed.

Documentarian Patricia Sims, also based out of Victoria, will be premiering her latest to a home crowd as When Elephants Were Young screens on Wednesday, Feb 10. Narrated by William Shatner, the film explores the lives of elephants in Thailand and their relationship with their human owners, tackling questions of the domestication of wild animals and the sustainability of elephant populations in Asia.

There’s local talent to be found among the short programs too, including No Breath Play from Victoria-based director Stacey Ashworth, a tale of BDSM gone wrong. Jeremy Lutter is another well-known figure in the local scene and his latest short, Reset, about a female android falling in love with her owner, is also among the offerings.

Rounding out the festival is an impressive slate of narrative, documentary and short films of all stripes from around the world. Highlights include The Lobster, an Ireland/UK/France co-production from director Yorgos Lanthimus (Dogtooth) that’s getting some early critical buzz, Our Little Sister from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (VFF2015 hit Like Father, Like Son) and B.C. filmmaker Patricia Rozema’s intense survival film Into the Forest, starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.

With more than 150 films from 30 countries to pick from, and a host of special programs focusing on Asian, French-Canadian, indigenous and other filmmakers, there’s something for everyone at the 2016 Victoria Film Festival.

The 2016 Victoria Film Festival runs until Feb. 14. Visit victoriafilmfestival.com for the full lineup of films, information on special events and tickets. Follow @CineFileBlog on Twitter for ongoing coverage of the festival as it unfolds.