Five Intersectionally Feminist Films to look out for at VIFF

Photo: Title cover for A Fantastic Woman

By Kristi Alexandra

When it comes time for Vancouver International Film Festival to roll around, there are no lack of options when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and fantastic fucking storytelling in film. We Vancouverites are treated to a bevy of interesting film from all edges of the globe, and there’s nothing quite like the power of film to rabble-rouse and dissect current women’s issues. Here are five intersectional feminist films not to be missed during this year’s VIFF.

A Fantastic Woman

A heartbreaking story serves as a catalyst to reveal the daily struggles of transwomen everywhere. Protagonist Marina (played by Daniela Vega) is a part-time singer in her twenties grappling with the death of her spouse, Orlando, a divorcee in his 50s. Things turn from bad to worse when she’s shunned by the authorities and Orlando’s surviving family.

A Fantastic Woman is a “dynamite drama” giving more visibility to the LGBTQ community, featuring a “heroine for our times: a victim of cruel conservatism but … triumphant.”

Plays Thursday, October 5 at 6:15 p.m.; Wednesday, October 11 at 9 p.m. at The Centre

Meditation Park

This heartwarming dramedy set in iconic East Van will have locals reeling in laughter. Meditation Park is the story of Maria (Cheng Pei Pei), a Hong Kong-born Vancouverite who’s spent decades being dutifully devoted to her vice-ridden husband Bing (Tzi Ma), as she grapples with the heartbreaking news of her husband’s infidelity.

The realization ultimately serves as a catalyst for unintentionally comic hijinks, and Maria’s new path to self-discovery as she connects with other senior Chinese-Canadian East Vancouverites and forges a life outside of her marriage.

Packed with femme-powered performances, including the inimitable Sandra Oh as Maria’s conflicted daughter, director Mina Shum shows that there’s room for claiming your feminism at any stage in life.

Plays Wednesday, October 11 at 6:15 p.m. at the Rio Theatre

Top of the Lake: China Girl

As a follow-up to Jane Campion’s feminist police must-see show four years ago, Top Of The Lake: China Girl stars Elisabeth Moss as the troubled detective, Robin Griffin as she unravels a vertiginous mystery. Nicole Kidman brings her exacting glamour to the role of a lesbian academic, the mother of the now-teenage daughter Robin put out for adoption as a baby.

When a suitcase washes up on Bondi Beach, visible human hair hinting at the contents, the chances of tracking down the killer appear slim. But this is not an isolated incident, and as Robin digs deeper, the net must be cast wider…

Plays Sunday, October 8 at 11:30 a.m. at International Village 10

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

An Indonesian modern feminist revenge flick bearing a strange likeness to a classic Western is what Mouly Surya’s Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts is being hailed as.

Marlina (Marsha Timothy) is a recently bereaved widow who’s followed by a group of men with rape on their minds—but she sure knows how to fight back. This machete-weilding heroine sets off on a mission to seek legal justice, severed head in tote. In her dealings with the police she’ll face indifference and incompetence, and there are other obstacles thrown in her path. The violence is harsh, the settings are beautiful and the narrative is utterly gripping. In her lead character, Surya has created a figure so striking, so proud, that it’s a thrill to identify with her.

Plays Tuesday, October 10 at 6:15 p.m. at Vancity Theatre; Friday, October 13 at 1:45 p.m. at Vancity Theatre

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

Get introduced to VIFF’s iconic leading lady. Director Alexandra Dean’s debut feature recalls the the endlessly entertaining life (or should we say lives) of Hollywood icon Hedy Lamarr. Lauded as “a Hollywood glamour queen who could have been a scientist,” Lamarr is the unknowing lead in Bombshell as Dean’s feature describes her denouncement by the Pope, her six ex-husbands (one of them a nazi), her brilliance in inventing WWII communications systems that became the foundation for WiFi and Bluetooth. Lamarr’s resume includes being the ravishing ingenue who scandalized Europe by simulating an orgasm on screen; the American patriot who sold millions of dollars’ worth of war bonds; and the destitute recluse arrested for shoplifting in a Florida drug store.

Plays Sunday, October 8 at 9:30 p.m. at International Village 10; Wednesday, October 11 at 3:45 p.m. at Vancouver Playhouse

Kristi Alexandra is an unabashed wino and wannabe musician. Her talents include drinking an entire bottle of cabernet sauvignon, singing in the bathtub, and falling asleep.