CVAG Film Series


Series passes and tickets for the Winter 2019 Film Series are now available.

Films run on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5pm at Landmark Cinemas, 2665 Cliffe Ave. Courtenay (Driftwood Mall).

The series pass provides access to all ten films for $140 for CVAG members/$150 for non-members. Individual tickets will be $14 each for CVAG members/$15 for non-members.

Call 250.338.6211 ext. 1 to purchase passes over the phone, or drop by CVAG at 580 Duncan Ave, Courtenay.


January 13 + 16 – THE GRIZZLIES
January 20 + 23 – SHOPLIFTERS
January 27 + 30 – MARIA BY CALLAS
February 10 + 13 – SIR
February 17 + 20 – BEAUTIFUL BOY
March 24 + 27 – CAPERNAUM
April 7 + 10 – WOMAN AT WAR

About the Comox Valley Art Gallery Film Series

The Comox Valley Art Gallery Film Series is a selection of titles from the Toronto International Film Festival Film Circuit. We present two Film Series each year – one in winter/spring and one in the fall.

CVAG staff and volunteers organize the film series, and proceeds go towards our artistic programming.

About the TIFF Film Circuit

Founded in 1989, Film Circuit is the film outreach program of the Toronto International Film Festival. It brings the best of Canadian and international films to communities across the country.

Through an alternate model of grassroots distribution, marketing and exhibition, the TIFF Film Circuit encompasses over 180 groups in over 160 communities across Canada and helps TIFF lead the world in building markets and audience for Canadian cinema.


THE GRIZZLIES – Sunday + Wednesday, January 13 + 16 at 5 pm
Directed by Miranda de Pencier
CANADA, 2018
107 minutes
Principal Cast: Tantoo Cardinal, Ben Schnetzer, Will Sasso, Booboo Stewart

Based on a true story, The Grizzlies is about the determination and resilience of a group of Inuit youth in a small Arctic community.

In 1998, first-time teacher Russ Sheppard (Ben Schnetzer, Pride, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan) moves north for a job at a local school in Kugluktuk, a town struggling with one of the highest suicide rates in North America. With no previous experience or knowledge of life in the north, Russ is shocked and overwhelmed by the numerous social issues facing the youth, all as a result of the massive legacy of colonization on their families and communities.

Russ introduces a lacrosse program in the school. Although the program is at first met with skepticism and resistance, Russ’ commitment begins to win the trust of the students, and together they form the Grizzlies lacrosse team. Through the sport, the youth find a vital outlet for their emotions, and the team creates a sense of pride and purpose in themselves and their community.

Originally from Kugluktuk, one of the film’s producers, Stacey Aglok MacDonald, has first-hand experience of the impact of this program on her community and has been committed to bringing this story to the screen in close creative collaboration with producer Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and director Miranda de Pencier. With absolutely stunning breakout performances by young Nunavut-based actors Paul Nutarariaq and Emerald MacDonald, The Grizzlies is a testament to the spirit, tenacity, and leadership of Inuit youth, persisting in spite of immense pressure and hardship.


SHOPLIFTERS – Sunday + Wednesday, Jan 20 + 23 at 5 pm
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
JAPAN, 2018
Japanese w/ English subtitles
121 minutes
Principal Cast: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki, Miyu Sasaki, Jyo Kairi

Hirokazu Kore-eda (Our Little Sister, The Third Murder) continues to tell stories of complicated familial relationships in his latest feature. Winner of the 2018 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Japan’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Academy Awards, Shoplifters explores the ways in which the security of a loving family — as well as the need to survive — can sometimes overshadow morally questionable behaviour.

Osamu (Lily Franky, Like Father, Like Son) and his wife, Nobuyo (Sakura Andô), are struggling on low incomes to support their Tokyo family, and turn to shoplifting to get by. One day, while stealing food from a local grocery store, Osamu and his son Shota (Jyo Kairi) meet Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), a young girl who appears to be homeless. They bring her home for dinner and, noticing signs of abuse, decide to take her in as one of their own, eventually training her in the “family business.” Upon learning that Yuri’s abusive parents are looking for her, they cut her hair and rename her Rin to keep her safe.

While it’s clear the family will go to almost any lengths to achieve basic financial stability, they provide Rin with a loving, supportive, and nurturing environment. Shoplifters asks the audience to consider which life is more desirable: one full of love and support but dependent on unethical or illegal actions, or one that is socially accepted but ultimately empty.

“Who better than Kore-eda, a director who whispers instead of shouts, is able to capture contradictions and issues though such a subtle, unforced style of storytelling?”

—Deborah Young,
The Hollywood Reporter


MARIA BY CALLAS – Sunday + Wednesday, Jan 27 + 30 at 5 pm
Directed by Tom Volf
FRANCE, 2018
English, French w/ English subtitles
113 minutes
With: Maria Callas, Fanny Ardant, Aristotle Onassis

Pulling back the curtain on one of the world’s most recognizable voices, Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas presents an intimate and carefully constructed portrait of revered soprano Maria Callas through a compilation of found footage, photographs, home videos and records, personal letters, and rare behind-the-scenes footage.

Iconic both onstage and off, Callas’ talent and operatic artistry brought her legions of fans and admirers from around the world. However, despite her success and widely esteemed talent, her artistic life was often eclipsed by her celebrity. With rumours, scandals, and intense public scrutiny plaguing her throughout her career, Callas frequently found herself forced to defend her work ethic and shield her personal life from the public, leading her to ultimately feel split between her two identities: Maria and Callas.

Meticulously weaving together rare archival material and employing Fanny Ardant’s (Paris je t’aime, Elizabeth) careful voicework to bring Callas’ writing to life, Volf introduces a new generation of fans to her magnetic

personality, unquestionable artistry, and transcendent vocal performances, while also complicating the prevailing narrative surrounding her personal life and public image.

“The film resolves as a passionate tribute to a woman who commanded the world’s attention, but was never afforded its decency. It’s a curtain call for Callas, and a chance for the great singer to be heard again.”

—David Ehrlich,


SIR – Sunday + Wednesday, Feb 10 + 13 at 5 pm
Directed by Rohena Gera
Hindi, English, Marathi w/ English subtitles
99 minutes
Principal Cast: Tillotama Shome, Geetanjali Kulkarni

The fiction-feature debut from writer-director Rohena Gera, Sir uses the charming, intimate story of forbidden attraction between a young widow and her wealthy employer to address the issue of class divide in modern India.

Ratna (Tillotama Shome, Monsoon Wedding), a soft-spoken yet ambitious woman who was widowed shortly after her marriage, makes the difficult decision to leave her rural village and head for the skyscrapers of Mumbai in order to provide for her sister back home. There she takes a job working as a live-in domestic for Ashwin (Vivek Gomber, Court) a wealthy socialite from a family of builders, whose fiancée recently left him for another man. Ashwin seems to have it all while Ratna was raised in poverty — yet their outlooks on life could not be more different. Ashwin, who previously worked as a journalist in New York, contends with family pressures and concerns about social standing while recovering from his heartbreak; Ratna, though resolute and driven, harbours private dreams of becoming a tailor, hiding fabrics and designs in her cubby of the house. As they grow to understand and

support each other emotionally, these two people from two different worlds learn to live and love again, together.

Touching and beautifully acted by its two leads, Sir — which elicited buzz after premiering at Cannes in 2018 — is a warm and poignant romance that presents an honest look at social hierarchy. Working with cinematographer Dominique Colin, Gera expertly contrasts the vast Indian countryside with the confines of Ashwin’s apartment, mirroring the economic and class constraints Ratna faces throughout her quest for purpose and freedom.

“A modest yet effective tale of love and class.”

—Jordan Mintzer,
The Hollywood Reporter



BEAUTIFUL BOY – Sunday + Wednesday, Feb 17 + 20 at 5 pm
Directed by Felix van Groeningen
USA, 2018
111 minutes
Principal Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Fresh from his breakout role in Call Me By Your Name, Academy Award nominee Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird) turns in another dazzling performance in Beautiful Boy. Playing a young man raging and suffering through drug addiction, he confirms his status as one of the very best actors of his generation. He is matched every step of the way in this moving drama by Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes, Little Miss Sunshine), who continues to build on his comic achievements.

David Sheff (Carell) is a kind, loving, middleclass dad. He and his wife, Vicki (Amy Ryan, Louder Than Bombs, Birdman), seem to have done everything right for their family. So when son Nic (Chalamet) gets addicted to methamphetamine, David can’t believe it, can’t stop it, and can’t help but risk everything to try to get his son back. As David grapples with Nic’s lies, betrayals, and constant flirtations with death, the film reminds us of who Nic used to be — a sweet, thoughtful, beautiful boy.

Adapting the bestselling books that David Sheff and Nic Sheff wrote about their experiences, Belgian director Felix van Groeningen

brings both realism and poetry to a tragically timely story. As the Sheffs confront the intractable, unpredictable beast of addiction, they must at the same time confront the fact that Nic’s pain might also be his choice. Beautiful Boy doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of this family’s struggle, but frames it with a surprising amount of life, love, and hope.

“Beautiful Boy … is scrupulous and tenderly wounding — a drama that seizes and holds you. It’s a compelling movie whether or not it happens to speak to you personally, yet you can bet that a lot of people who have stood by and watched members of their families succumb to drug addiction are going to want to see it.”

—Owen Gleiberman,



THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES – Sunday + Wednesday, Feb 24 + 27 at 5 pm
Directed by Alison Reid
CANADA, 2018
Language: English
83 minutes

In 1956, four years before Jane Goodall ventured into the world of chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey left to work with mountain gorillas, in fact, before anyone, man or woman had made such a trip, 23-year-old Canadian biologist, Anne Innis Dagg, made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to become the first person in the world to study animal behaviour in the wild on that continent. When she returned home a year later armed with ground-breaking research, the insurmountable barriers she faced as a female scientist proved much harder to overcome. In 1972, having published 20 research papers as an assistant professor of zoology at University of Guelph, the Dean of the university, denied her tenure. She couldn’t apply to the University of Waterloo because the Dean there told Anne that he would never give tenure to a married woman. This was the catalyst that transformed Anne into a feminist activist. For three decades, Anne Innis Dagg was absent from the giraffe world until 2010 when she was sought out by giraffologists and not just brought back to into the fold, but finally celebrated for her work.

In The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, an older (now 85), wiser Anne takes us on her first expedition back to Africa to retrace where her trail-blazing journey began more than half a century ago. By retracing her original steps, and with letters and stunning, original 16mm film footage, Anne offers an intimate window into her life as a young woman, juxtaposed with a first hand look at the devastating reality that giraffes are facing today. Both the world’s first ‘giraffologist’, whose research findings ultimately became the foundation for many scientists following in her footsteps, and the species she loves have each experienced triumphs as well as nasty battle scars. The Woman Who Loves Giraffes gives us a moving perspective on both.



IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK – Sunday + Wednesday, Mar 10 + 13 at 5 pm
Directed by Barry Jenkins
USA, 2018
117 minutes
Principal Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to his Oscar-winning Film Circuit favourite Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.

In his third feature, Jenkins draws deeply and faithfully from Baldwin, whose profound insight into African Americans’ unique place in society serves as inspiration for this gorgeous tone poem on love and justice. Tish (newcomer KiKi Layne) is only 19 but she’s been forced to grow up fast. She’s pregnant by Fonny (Stephan James, Race, Selma), the man she loves. But Fonny is going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. As the film begins, Tish must break the news to her family, and his. Tish’s mother, played with heartbreaking depth by Regina King (television’s American Crime, Ray), soon must decide how far she will go to secure her daughter’s future. As Fonny, James gives a career-best performance of both grit and grace as a young man deeply in love but furious at what has befallen him. Jenkins reveals the layers of conflicting motivations

in a filmmaking style that approaches music — dipping into Baldwin’s elevated language and following his characters with unabashed devotion, fully capturing the texture of ’70s New York.

If Beale Street Could Talk is without doubt a romance, but it’s stronger than that because it refuses to indulge fantasy. Infused with Moonlight’s deep lyricism and Medicine for Melancholy’s flirtatious spark, Jenkins’ latest shows him to be our most clear-eyed chronicler of love.

“You’ve never seen romantic love depicted on screen with such lyrical and gorgeous intensity, or systemic injustice brought to such vivid and enraging life. Film classes will be taught about Jenkins’ use of color.”

—Glen Weldon,



CAPERNAUM – Sunday + Wednesday, Mar 24 + 27 at 5 pm
Directed by Nadine Labaki
Lebanese w/ English subtitles
120 minutes
Principal Cast: Zain Al Rafeea, Nadine Labaki

Nadine Labaki (Where Do We Go Now?, Caramel) has crafted some of the most indelible depictions of Lebanese life in contemporary cinema. At once gritty and perceptive, Labaki’s latest film is her finest yet, a dive into Beirut’s lower depths as viewed through the eyes of an imperilled child.

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is only 12, but he’s seen enough of this life to resent his very existence. With numerous children to care for, his parents resort to some inventive scams, such as saturating garments with tramadol, which they then pass along to Zain’s incarcerated brother who reconstitutes the drug and sells it to fellow prisoners. More alarmingly, Zain’s parents have sold his11-year-old sister’s hand in marriage, which prompts Zain to run away. He befriends an Ethiopian cleaning woman, whose baby he eventually becomes guardian to. But life on the streets offers Zain fewer and fewer places to hide.

Encouraged by a current affairs program seeking to draw attention to child poverty, Zain files a lawsuit against his parents for giving birth to him. The trial provides the frame through which Zain’s story unfolds.

Named for a town on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus was said to have healed the sick, Capernaum reveals a world in which desperation is constant and the innocent appear forsaken. Our best hope lies in kids like Zain, whose spite is easily matched by his resourcefulness, and whose story Labaki relays with toughness, empathy, and bold cinematic vision.

“While this is unquestionably an issue film, it tackles its subject with intelligence and heart.”

—Jay Weissberg,



YOU ARE HERE: A COME FROM AWAY STORY – Sun & Wed, Mar 31 & Apr 3 at 5 pm
Directed by: Moze Mossanen
CANADA, 2018
84 minutes
Principal Cast: Beverly, Bass, Reg Batson, Beulah Cooper

When U.S. airspace was completely shut down in the hours following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and all civilian airliners within reach of the U.S. were ordered to land at the nearest airport, 38 planes landed at the Gander airport. With no warning and with no time to prepare, a city of only 9,000 residents played host to more than 6,500 frightened, exhausted, and hungry passengers who “came from away” around the world.
The remarkable story of how Gander supported the ‘Come From Aways’ was brought to life as the original Canadian musical Come From Away in 2013. The musical, which became one of the most talked-about openings on Broadway in 2017 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, has generated discussion on the need for compassion and unity.

YOU ARE HERE: A COME FROM AWAY STORY travels deep within this unique tale to shine a light on the actual Newfoundlanders and passengers whose lives have inspired the musical. This includes the mayors of Gander and Appleton, Newfoundland, community workers, police officers, TV reporters, and more – all real-life people who worked tirelessly alongside countless others to comfort and care for their unexpected guests.
The documentary also highlights the real-life passengers who were looked after during those five unforgettable days, including a couple who met, fell in love, and ultimately honeymooned in Gander, the pilot of an American Airlines jet whose life was turned upside down, and a U.S. businessman who was so touched by his hosts’ generosity that he went on to create Good Samaritan initiatives in cities such as Austin, Texas.



WOMAN AT WAR – Apr 7 & 10/Sun & Wed 5PM
Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson
100 mins
Principal Cast: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Juan Camilo, Roman Estrada

As a follow-up to his 2013 film Of Horses and Men, director Benedikt Erlingsson delivers Iceland’s nominee submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards: Woman at War, a timely film that speaks to social issues with wit and warmth.
Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir in a bravura performance) is a choirmaster who loves her job. And, she’s just learned she’s been approved to adopt a child from a war-torn area in Ukraine, a longtime dream of hers.

The only hitch is that Halla is also a terrorist — an eco-terrorist to be exact. The proliferation of heavy industry, urged on by unscrupulous politicians, has been ruining Iceland’s rugged landscape and she’s taken action. Dubbed the Mountain Woman, Halla soon becomes the scourge of the aluminum industry. She is determined to see things through… but she can’t help wondering, would it be more fulfilling to save hypothetical future lives or one actual life: the daughter she has yet to meet and may never if she’s apprehended. Erlingsson’s second feature drills deep into the inevitable dilemmas plaguing almost everyone committed to the greater good. And the political satire here is precise and rich.

It’s evident in the sleazy Fox News–style way the government demonizes Halla. At the same time, there’s a puckish, postmodernist sense of humour percolating though the film that suggests vintage Makavejev and Godard, or even Alain Tanner’s classic Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000.
A tiny jazz band follows Halla everywhere she goes — on rooftops, in remote fields, in the middle of a flood — sometimes joined by a cadre of singers in traditional Ukrainian dress. It’s a reminder that the revolution should be hopeful, not just gloom and doom. And it should come with cool music.

“Is there anything rarer than an intelligent feel-good film that knows how to tackle urgent global issues with humor as well as a satisfying sense of justice? Look no further than Woman at War.”

—Jay Weissberg,