8 VIFF Documentaries to Feed Your Obsession

No matter what gets your inner nerd excited, VIFF has a movie for you.

September 26, 2018

By Fiona Morrow / Photo: VIFF

Finding Big Country

(Kathleen S. Jayme, Canada/USA)

A Vancouver Grizzlies super fan, Jayme has been obsessed by the local basketball team since she was in elementary school (as the contents of her bedroom closet still attest). Her favourite player was Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, a shy mountain man from Arkansas whose career burned out from injury shortly after the franchise was moved to Memphis. Jayme sets off on a quest to find her former hero — not an easy task, as it turns out. Fizzing with Jayme’s infectious enthusiasm, this is a film that will leave you smiling long after the credits roll.

Science Fair

(Christina Costantini, Darren Foster, USA)

Ever entered a science fair? This movie follows nine science-obsessed teenagers as they prepare to compete at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The $75,000 prize pot is significant, but these kids are on a mission to change the world with their inventions and discoveries.

The Eyes of Orson Welles

(Mark Cousins, UK)

Indefatigable polymath that he was, the filmmaker Orson Welles was also an avid artist, drawing and painting throughout his life. This is the entry point for Cousins’ tribute to the master of cinema, as he explores the connection between Welles’ artworks and his artistry on celluloid. An absolute must see for anyone who loves the movies.

Wine Calling

(Bruno Sauvard, France)

Sauvard spends a year in Languedoc-Roussillon following the process of a small but growing band of French vintners committed to sustainable, natural winemaking. Reinventing the way wine is made in a country known for its exceptional varietals and vintages is, of course, an uphill battle, but one that may be beginning to make headway.

Minute Bodies: The Intimate Lives of F. Percy Smith

(Stuart A. Staples, UK)

Percy Smith’s pioneering scientific films illuminated the smallest stuff of life as he mastered time lapse, microscopic and underwater filmmaking. Tindersticks frontman Staples became obsessed with Smith’s work after watching a film made in 1908 about a fly, setting the musician on a journey to unearth more of this self-taught filmmaker’s work. The result is a collage of these early images exploring the hidden tiny worlds that surround us and set to a score composed and performed by Tindersticks.

This Mountain Life

(Grant Baldwin, Canada)

Local filmmaker Baldwin (Just Eat It) turns his camera sky high, to investigate just what it is about mountains that continues to seduce and obsess us. He follows a six-month trek across B.C.’s very own Coast Mountain range by a mother and daughter in an attempt to understand what it is that compels so many to keep scaling these heights. Armchair enthusiasts can expect to be rewarded with stunning imagery.

Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes

(Sophie Huber, Switzerland/USA/UK)

Music lovers take note: this is a superb profile of arguably the most important and influential jazz record labels of all time. Founded in 1939 by two Jewish German refugees, Blue Note was built from a love of the music and a deep respect for the artists who were constantly pushing the genre to new, previously unimagined places. Bolstered by fabulous archive photography and built around a contemporary recording session featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and current jazz-fusion wunderkind, Robert Glasper, this is essential viewing.

Cuban Food Stories

(Asori Soto, Cuba/USA)

It may have its own sandwich, but Cuban cuisine is much more than a gussied up ham and cheese. In this road trip around his homeland, Soto explores the different regional cuisines across the Caribbean island and the people who continue to keep traditions alive. The executive producer also made the wonderful Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

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