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April 7 – 16 at the VIFF Centre and Roundhouse Community Centre

This year R2R is all about cultivating cultural appreciation. 

Three remarkable international films make their Canadian premieres at this year’s Reel 2 Real.  Filled with playful songs and a deep respect for the tradition of connective storytelling the region is known for, SALEEM is hot off the heels of its successes at Annecy where it was the first animated work out of Jordan to show at the festival. Director Cynthia Madanat has crafted an accessible and thoughtful take on the emotional experience of a young refugee. She was recently named one of Screen Daily’s ‘Arab Stars of Tomorrow.’ 

From first time Costa Rican writer/director/producer Kattia G. Zúñiga, comes the Canadian Premiere and multi-award winner SISTER & SISTER, a tender and intimate portrait of sisterhood, desire, jealousy and self-acceptance in the malaise of Panama’s sweltering summer. Finally BOYZ, by German director Sylvain Cruziat explores the rich and complex, male-friendship of gen zee-ers who embrace each other unapologetically and do not fit neatly into the superficial tropes of masculinity.  

Sunday Fun Day with All You can Eat Pancake Breakfast on April 14 at the Roundhouse Community Centre.  Includes drop-in animation workshops (Pixilation, Cut-out, Objects in Motion, Drawn animation), and 4 Short Films Programs for only $7!


Indigenous Themes in Canadian Films

The Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth will present the West Coast Premiere of the Indigenous activist documentary, I WON’T STAND FOR IT (UK/Canada).Miyawata Stout is a 15-year old climate activist from Winnipeg, who protests the injustices that her people face by refusing to stand for the National Anthem. This inspirational and clear-headed examination of a change agent in motion is directed by UK filmmaker Caroline Bacle, who lived in Canada for many years. 

I Won’t Stand For It will screen with a second Indigenous documentary, I PLACE YOU INTO THE FIRE (Canada). A thought-provoking blend of documentary, animation, and elements of poetry, through her eloquent and powerful words, Mi’kmaw poet and former poet laureate of Kjipuktuk (Halifax) Rebecca Thomas shines a light on the enduring effects of colonization and the struggles that Indigenous people continue to face in contemporary Canadian society. Three Indigenous illustrators lend their talents to animated segments that visually represent Rebecca’s words. Directed by returning Indigenous filmmaker Stephanie Joline (Play Your Gender, R2R ‘16).

ADVENTURES IN THE LAND OF ASHA (Canada) Jules is banned from school because of his rare and unsightly skin condition, which the homestead community believe must be contagious.   Together with a mysterious young Indigenous girl named Asha, they venture to the other side of the wild forest in search of Asha’s family, who may have the medicine Jules needs to cure his disease.

On this vast journey nature reveals itself to be full of life unexpected secrets. Somewhere between imagination and reality, Jules and Asha begin to piece together the true history of the land, and ultimately confront the misguided settlers. Directed by Quebec filmmaker Sophie Farkas Bolla.  best known for her editing on Tracey Deer’s BeansIn French with English subtitles

Closing Night Film – COCO FARM (Canada) When 12-year old Max discovers free run chickens in his cousin Charles’ abandoned barn, a new business idea captures his imagination. Seeing a gap in the egg market for organic, farm-to-table offerings, Max and his friends try to bring their entrepreneurial aspirations to fruition… But will their ideas ever fly beyond the ridiculous reams of red tape strung up by Quebec’s regulatory system?  A heartwarming story of community care and the need for responsible small businesses to make their own seat at the table. In French with English subtitles

Bringing the best films for all ages from around the world!

Students in the Lower Mainland are invited to attend our popular school programs: Reel Focus and Feature Focus for Elementary, and Talent Lab for High School. These programs come with study guides and resources to help teachers integrate our programs into the school curriculum, touching on issues of social justice, history, and Indigenous rights and traditions.

Decided by R2R’s Adult Jury, the Peace prize comes with a cash award of $500, to the film that “best uses the language of cinema to further the goals of peace and justice.” Both the Senior (ages 13-18) and Junior Youth Jury (ages 9-12) will adjudicate on all short and feature films, eligible for the ‘Most Innovative’ and ‘Most Inspirational’ film awards in their age category. The Senior Jury will also decide the winner of the NFB Award for Best Animation.

We’re showing 8 feature films and 35 shorts, from over 25 countries and Indigenous nations, including 17 films from Canada. 6 feature films will compete for the prestigious Edith Lando Peace Prize, including: List of eligible films: Nina and the Hedgehog’s Secret; Adventures in the Land of Asha; Saleem; BOYZ; Sister & Sister; I Place You Into The Fire.


We’ve scoured the globe to bring you the brightest and the boldest and invite you back to the cinema.  More announcements in the coming weeks, including R2R’s famous all-you-can-eat Sunday morning pancakes and animation for the family, a showcase of films made by young filmmakers who are eligible to win great prizes, and school programs such as the Youth Media Conference and Behind the Scenes Career Expo for highschoolers.  There’s something for everyone!

More information: www.r2rfestival.org    Tickets & Venues

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