CVAG Film Series


Series passes and tickets for the Fall 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 $126 for CVAG members/$135 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.


September 15 & 18 – WILD ROSE
September 22 & 25 – THE FAREWELL
September 29 & October 2 – A COLONY
October 6 & 9 – THE SOUVENIR
October 20 & 23 – ALL IS TRUE
October 27 & 30 – BEFORE YOU KNOW IT
November 17 & 20 – VILLAGE ROCKSTARS
December 1 & 4 – MAIDEN
December 8 & 11 – TEL AVIV ON FIRE


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.


WILD ROSE Sun & Wed, Sept 15 & 18 at 5 pm
Directed by Tom Harper
United Kingdom, 2018
101 minutes
Principal Cast: Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, Julie Walters

In this inspiring comedy-drama, a would-be country singer dreams of leaving her dreary, workaday Glasgow life for the bright lights of Nashville. Rose-Lynn Harlan (TIFF 2017 Rising Star Jessie Buckley, Beast) has dreamt of becoming a country music star for as long as anyone can remember. But Glasgow isn’t exactly Nashville, and, as a convicted criminal and single mother of two young children, Rose-Lynn is more country song than country star.

Just released from prison, forced to wear an ankle monitor and keep curfew, she can’t return to her job as the house-band singer at Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry. Sporting her white cowboy hat and white leather cowboy boots, Rose-Lynn lands a new job as a house- keeper for the lovely, and very posh, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo, television’s Chimerica, Hotel Rwanda). After catching her singing on the job, Susannah’s kids quickly become Rose-Lynn’s biggest fans and Susannah her enthusiastic patron, determined to help her get to Nashville. But Rose-Lynn’s dreams come at a cost. Her mother (Julie Walters, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Brooklyn), who knows all about abandoning dreams, has always done what she can to help her daughter realize hers, but she also wants her to take responsibility and act like the grown-up that her kids need her to be.

Buckley delivers a vivacious and unforgettable performance as Rose-Lynn, her voice a star of its own. With a confident hand, director Tom Harper brings Nicole Taylor’s beautiful, textured script, full of authentic characters and unexpected turns, to life in Glasgow, a city that, like his protagonist, might appear gritty on the surface but is bursting with spirit and personality.

Rose-Lynn’s story reminds us that taking responsibility doesn’t have to mean giving up hope. And sometimes when we’re chasing our dreams, we realize we were living them all along.

“A happy-sad drama of starstruck fever that lifts you up and sweeps you along, touching you down in a puddle of well-earned tears.”
— Owen Gleiberman, Variety


THE FAREWELL Sun & Wed, Sept 22 & 25 at 5 pm
Directed by Lulu Wang
USA, 2019
Mandarin with English subtitles
98 minutes
Principal Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin

Lulu Wang’s Sundance hit The Farewell is an intergenerational family drama that is at once celebratory, heart-wrenching, and life-affirming.

Based on true events, the film follows a young Chinese American woman named Billi (Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians) as she travels back to China to visit her dying grandmother. Billi’s family has decided to spare their beloved matriarch the news of her terminal diagnosis so as not to darken what time she has left. In order for everyone to have a chance to say goodbye without tipping her off that the end is near, they orchestrate an elaborate excuse to reunite in the form of a fake wedding. Though cultures clash and family conflict ensues, the story is told with universally relatable warmth and charm.

Awkwafina is dazzling as the quick-witted and empathetic Billi, supported by a remarkable cast that includes the charming Tzi Ma (Meditation Park) as her father and Diana Lin (Australia Day) as her mother.

Little by little, we realize that this story is not only about Billi saying goodbye to her grandmother, but also about her reconnecting with a country and extended family that she left behind at a young age. The Farewell is truly remarkable. It will make you laugh out loud, cry both sad and happy tears, and contemplate the meaning of home.

“It unearths the universality of complex familial love that defies borders and language barriers.” —Tomris Laffly, Time Out


A COLONY Sun & Wed, Sept 29 & Oct 2 at 5 pm
Directed by Geneviève Dulude-De Celles
Canada, 2018
French with English subtitles
102 minutes
Principal Cast: Emilie Bierre, Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie, Robin Aubert, Irlande Côté

This Québécois gem, the fiction-feature debut from Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, is a fresh, beautifully rendered, and radically optimistic take on the coming-of-age genre. It won the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Quebec Film Festival, and the awards for Best Canadian Feature, Best Director, and Best Performance at the Whistler Film Festival. The director’s latest short film, The Cut, played at Sundance in 2014 and was named one of Canada’s Top Ten short films of that year, while her debut feature documentary, Welcome to F.L., played at TIFF in 2015.

Une Colonie is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama about finding your voice. Set in rural Quebec, it follows 12-year-old Mylia (Emilie Bierre), who has a history of being bullied and is trying to find her bearings at a new school while navigating a turbulent
home life. She finds friends in her classmates Jacinthe, her popular older cousin, and Jimmy, who lives on a neighbouring Abenaki reserve. From there, Mylia must figure out how to handle the pressure of conformity and find her sense of self in spite of it.

An apt exploration of identity that will speak to the pre-teen in all of us, Une Colonie reminds us that we should aim not only to survive in live, but also to thrive.

“[The film] gains in confidence and momentum as it progresses, leaving us eager to see where its young director will go now that the training wheels are off and the road up ahead is open.” —Jessica Kiang, Variety


THE SOUVENIR Sun & Wed, Oct 6 & 9 at 5 pm
Directed by Joanna Hogg
UK/USA, 2019
119 minutes
Principal Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade

Deeply personable and relatable, the acclaimed new drama from director Joanna Hogg (The Exhibition, Archipelago) is a semi-autobiographical account of a dysfunctional relationship between a young, ambitious film student and an older, smooth-talking man, set in 1980s west London. The film won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at Sundance in early 2019.

Julie (newcomer Honor Swinton Byrne) is finding her place as an artist, trying to shed her sheltered and privileged upbringing and immerse herself in the real world for the sake of her art. Her journey is derailed by Anthony (Tom Burke, television’s War & Peace and The Musketeers), whose charm is equal to his depravity but whom she cannot help but love — much to the dismay of her mother (played by Swinton Byrne’s real-life mother, Tilda Swinton, I Am Love, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and her friends. The entanglement threatens to demolish Julie’s dream of becoming a filmmaker.

Hogg sincerely captures the intensity and naiveté of a first adult love. The Souvenir is at once a period piece depicting a modern relationship long before the era of smartphones and social media, and a time capsule of our collective bad decisions and tormented relationships. A sequel is in the works, promising that life after a bad romance can continue.

“The Souvenir clearly stands out as one of the year’s best films: pointedly personal art that somehow manages, in its specificity, to hit on something universal.” —Alissa Wilkinson, VOX


ALL IS TRUE Sun & Wed, Oct 20 & 23 at 5 pm
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
United Kingdom, 2018
101 minutes
Principal Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen

An all-star cast headlines this historical drama from Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, Much Ado About Nothing), a delightful telling of William Shakespeare’s return home to his family after years of success in London.

It’s 1613, and Shakespeare (Branagh) is the most celebrated playwright of his era. Yet when a cannon misfires during a performance of Henry VIII, his beloved Globe Theatre burns to the ground. With no other options, Shakespeare must return to Stratford to once again live with his family and face those he left behind in pursuit of personal triumph.

All Is True meets the high standard we’ve come to expect of British period dramas: it is charming in wit, lush in costumes and setting, and gorgeous in cinematography, all wrapped in a great story. This is also the most vulnerable portrayal we’ve seen of the oft-played Shakespeare. Haunted by the death of Hamnet, his only son, he does all he can to fall into the good graces of his family.

Branagh provides depth and humour to the role, and he is anchored wonderfully by Judi Dench (Philomena, Red Joan) as Shakespeare’s long-neglected wife, Anne Hathaway, and the always reliable Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes, The Lord of the Rings) as the Earl of Southampton. The tale of an artist coming to terms with his failings amidst a sea of success, All Is True is satisfying from start to finish. It’s the kind of comforting, intelligent cinema that makes you want to cozy up with a warm cup of tea.

“Slowly, as the thematic centre of the film begins to take shape, so does Branagh’s character — and in those moments, the audience is treated to what amounts to nothing short of a Christmas gift for any Anglophile or Shakespeare lover.” —Dana Schwartz, Entertainment Weekly


BEFORE YOU KNOW IT Sun & Wed, Oct 27 & 30 at 5 pm
Directed by PJ Raval
USA, 2014
110 minutes
Principal Cast: Dennis Creamer, Ty Martin, Robert Mainor

The subjects of BEFORE YOU KNOW IT are no ordinary senior citizens. They are go-go booted bar-hoppers, love struck activists, troublemaking baton twirlers, late night Internet cruisers, seasoned renegades and bold adventurers. They are also among the estimated 2.4 million lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans over the age of 55 in the United States, many of whom face heightened levels of discrimination, neglect and exclusion. But BEFORE YOU KNOW IT is not a film about cold statistics and gloomy realities, it’s a film about generational trailblazers who have surmounted prejudice and defied expectation to form communities of strength, renewal and camaraderie. An affirmation of life and human resilience told with humor and candor, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT confirms that you are never too old to reshape society. 


Sun & Wed, Nov 3 & 6 at 5 pm
Directed by Zacharias Kunuk
Canada, 2019
112 minutes
Principal Cast: Apayata Kotierk, Benjamin Kunuk, Kim Bodnia

Master filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk (Maliglutit (Searchers), The Journals of Knud Rasmussen) returns with One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, in which a single day in an Inuk man’s life represents as aspect of Canadian history that has affected generations.

One morning in the spring of 1961, Noah Piugattuk (Apayata Kotierk, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen) begins his day like any other in Kapuivik, on Baffin Island. Slowly preparing himself for a trip to get supplies, Piugattuk sips coffee, packs supplies, and readies his dogs for the journey. Along the way, when his party stops for a rest, a lookout spots an incoming team. Piugattuk’s group wonders who they might be and what provisions they might need.

Once the other team arrives, Piugattuk is immediately introduced to “Boss” (Kim Bodnia, television’s Killing Eve), a government agent who has come to tell Piugattuk and his entire community that they must move to a settlement and put their children in school.

The ensuing conversation — and negotiation — between Piugattuk, the government agent, and members of both teams serves as the centrepiece of the film, providing a snap- shot of the relationship between Canada’s

First Peoples and the country’s colonizers. When Boss insists that Piugattuk must relocate, or else he won’t receive his allowance from the government, the elder responds with incredulity. What would he or his family ever need money for?

The fundamental disconnect between Boss and Piugattuk provides moments both poignant and humorous; the language barrier alone provides several wry asides from Piugattuk. However, the feeling of watching a moment suspended in time, knowing the weight this interaction will carry for Piugattuk — a real-life Inuk elder who lived 1900–96 and who saw firsthand the erosion of his people’s language and lifestyle — imbues the film with an incredible vitality and urgency.


VILLAGE ROCKSTARS Sun & Wed, Nov 17 & 20 at 5 pm
Directed by Rima Das
India, 2017
Assamese with English subtitles
87 minutes
Principal Cast: Bhanita Das, Basanti Das

Dhunu (Bhanita Das) wants a rock band. It’s an admirable goal for a young girl, but out of reach when you live in a remote village in northeast India. And when your mother is a widow struggling to put food on the table, dreams of electric guitars can seem like madness. Yet a guitar is exactly what drives Dhunu’s ambition. At 10 years old, she is alive with a passion for music and a dazzling confidence in her own convictions.

Village Rockstars, the second feature from TIFF Share Her Journey Ambassador Rima Das and India’s nominee submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, paints an inspiring portrait of a young girl finding her own place in a world made for boys and men.
Das grew up in the same village where she shot Village Rockstars, and recruited a local, non-professional cast. This may also have seemed daring, but the result is magic. The performances are natural and fresh. The marshlands and village textures are palpable in Das’s intimate, widescreen camerawork. When the rains come, they drench Dhunu and her playmates in scenes that could never be staged.

It’s an idyllic world, although Dhunu still has to navigate the mysterious ways of adults and boys. The same boys who want to join her in rock-star glory tease and mistreat her because she’s a girl. Her mother is a strong figure in her life but seems to have little patience for her daughter’s extravagant dreams. It’s only when Dhunu sits at the feet of a village elder as he describes how to unlock the power of thought that she begins to glimpse how she might achieve her boundless musical vision.

“Village Rockstars is heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure. A young girl and her mother’s woes and misery are not music to the ears, but their spirit is.” —Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India


MAIDEN Sun & Wed, Dec 1 & 4 at 5 pm
Directed by Alex Holmes
United Kingdom, 2018
97 minutes
Principal Cast: Tracy Edwards, Frank Bough, John Chittenden, Bruno Du Bois

Exhilarating, suspenseful, and emotionally charged, this documentary from director Alex Holmes chronicles Tracy Edwards’ 1989–90 precedent-setting sea voyage around the world with an all-female crew.

The Whitbread Round the World Race (rechristened the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001) was considered an exclusively masculine endeavour when Edwards came along and, in the face of much sexist condescension, proved that skill, perseverance, and courage at sea know no gender.

Maiden traces Edwards’ formative experiences: the idyllic childhood that came to a devastating halt with her father’s death and the adolescent rebelliousness that resulted in her expulsion from school. At 16, she ran away to Greece, where she had her first taste of the seafaring life, rapidly graduating from cook to deckhand to first mate. She was still in her mid-twenties when she became determined to participate in the Whitbread with a crew of talented women from around the world.

With its fundraising challenges and heated rivalries, the journey to prepare the Maiden was already complicated. But it was just the beginning of an epic adventure.

Holmes crafts a captivating braid of archival materials and new interviews in which Edwards and her crew members — all of them rousing storytellers — collectively narrate their experience. It is a classic tale of people contending with the elements, though, in this case, some of those elements are other people. In a televised interview filmed before the Maiden set out, Edwards explains that she simply wants to be able to pursue her passion… and prove the all-male sailing establishment wrong.

“A rousing, real-life, feminist adventure tale.” —Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter


TEL AVIV ON FIRE Sun & Wed, Dec 8 & 11 at 5 pm
Directed by Sameh Zoabi
Luxembourg/France/Israel/Belgium, 2018
Arabic, Hebrew with English subtitles
97 minutes
Principal Cast: Lubna Azabal, Kais Nashef, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Yaniv Biton

One of the most irreverent cinematic spins on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the latest from writer-director Sameh Zoabi follows a fledging soap-opera scenarist charged with concocting plot twists to suit viewers on both sides.

A slacker sliding into middle age with little to show for it, Salam (Kais Nashef ) lands a production-assistant gig on Tel Aviv on Fire, a popular Palestinian evening soap for which his uncle is showrunner. A banal, offhand remark made during a shoot puts Salam in hot water with the show’s head writer but curries favour with its star (Lubna Azabal), a French diva who barely speaks Arabic. On Salam’s first day, he gets promoted.

Yet just as Salam’s prospects rise, he has a fateful encounter with Assi (Yaniv Biton), an Israeli military officer at the Ramallah checkpoint. During his interrogation of Salam, who must cross daily to get between home and work, Assi sees an opportunity to influence Tel Aviv on Fire — which, in his mind, is far too unflattering to its Israeli characters. Salam has just begun life as a writer and he’s already forced to compromise his integrity, while the entire country watches flabbergasted.

Zoabi’s ingenious satire exudes a deadpan audacity that’s hard to resist, while Nashef ’s outwardly unflappable middleman grounds this battle of ideologies in comic pragmatism. Films like this might not bring peace to the Middle East, but making everyone laugh at the same thing feels like a step in the right direction.

“A witty and warm-hearted look at a divided land.” —Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter