While our counterparts across the country are busy getting ready for their fancy, star-studded film festival with the likes of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, Vancouver cinephiles have to wait a bit longer to indulge in the city’s gathering of cinema elites.

And yes, the Vancouver International Film Festival (which runs September 26 to October 11) is a decidedly less flashy affair than the-festival-that-shall-not-be-named. But it still has plenty to offer for film geeks and rookies alike.

Here’s what caught our eye on first glance. 

VIFF

Babysplitters

Dir: Sam Friedlander
Country: U.S.

It’s hard not to feel that this comedy, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, was actually aimed at Vancouver. It centres on two couples that talk themselves into conceiving and raising a baby together (divorced couples do it!), and the hilarities (and not so funny moments) that ensue.

Maybe it’s a solution to our city’s housing crisis? Or perhaps a cautionary tale. In any case, the real mystery is whether Danny Pudi of former NBC heavyweight Community can carry the film. He hasn’t shown much since that show’s cancellation, so it could be a big moment for him. 

VIFF

Burning Cane

Dir: Phillip Youmans
Country: U.S.

The Southern drama from 19-year-old (!) director Youmans is garnering rave reviews. It stars The Wire’s Wendell Pierce as a grieving, alcoholic pastor and Dominique McClellan as an unemployed father as it weaves together a portrait of Southern African Americans.

Compared to the work of Terrence Malick (which could go either way, honestly), Youmans’ work won the award for top narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. I was pretty much this accomplished at 19 though, so it’s all good.

VIFF

Sometimes Always Never

Director: Carl Hunter
Country: U.K.

Bill Nighy can basically make us watch anything, so it doesn’t hurt that he stars as a “dapper, impish boomer in search of his long-missing son.” The film’s promotional material places an emphasis on Scrabble, as Nighy’s character is apparently obsessed with words.

Maybe, just maybe, this thing sparks a renewed city-wide interest in Words With Friends. Please? I need people to play with. 

VIFF

Castle in the Ground

Director: Joey Klein
Country: Canada (Ontario)

Another one that should hit at the heart of Vancouverites, the story revolves around a young man (Alex Wolff) who loses his mother before becoming friends with his drug-adled neighbour (Imogen Poots). It promises a sobering look at Sudbury’s opioid epidemic, and with bonafide stars in Poots and Canada’s own Neve Campbell, it shouldn’t be lacking one iota in believability.

VIFF

Ash

Director: Andrew Huculiak
Country: Canada (B.C.)

And finally, We Are the City drummer Huculiak brings his second feature (the first was 2014’s Violent) to the big screen. It centres on a reporter on the frontlines of wildfires in the Okanagan who is suddenly charged with a crime.

Burning B.C. makes for an appropriate apocalyptic backdrop for “Stan’s spiralling descent into a personal hell and his subsequent struggle for redemption.”

It’s also packed with accomplished Canadian actors like Chelah Horsdal (The Man in the High Castle) and Stephen Lobo (Continuum). 

Individual tickets for VIFF go on sale September 5. Packs are already available. Grab them here.