Victoria Film Festival unveils lineup — including special guest Bill Nighy

More than 100 award-winning films from across the world will be screened at the 26th Victoria Film Festival, which runs Feb. 7-16 at six venues across the city.

Twelve films will have their Canadian premières at Vancouver Island’s largest and longest-running film festival, in addition to one world première.

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Films from as far away as Palestine, Pakistan, Tunisia and Thailand are among the 82 feature films and 20 short films that have been selected by VFF programmers, joining 30 films from Canada, 12 from the U.S. and seven each from Switzerland and the U.K.

Bill Nighy will appear as a special guest at the event, to coincide with a Feb. 8 screening of his new film with Annette Benning, Hope Gap. The British favourite from Love Actually and the Pirates of the Caribbean films will also sit with film critic Richard Crouse for an instalment of In Conversation With, one of several special events scheduled during the VFF’s 10-day run that also includes initiatives for young filmmakers and fans and several showcases of local talent.

Film highlights include: Nicolas Bedos’ romantic comedy, La Belle Époque; Werner Herzog’s documentary, Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin; Xavier Dolan’s Cannes selection, Mattjia & Maxime; Marco Bellocchio’s Mafia saga, The Traitor; Mark Jenkin’s drama, Bait; Alejandro Amenábar’s drama, While at War; Matthew Rankin’s black comedy, The Twentieth Century; Marie Clements’ drama, Red Snow; Makoto Nagahisa’s acclaimed debut, We Are Little Zombies; D.W. Young’s documentary, Booksellers; and Ken Loach’s audience favourite, Sorry We Missed You.

Adding to the presence of Hope Gap stars Nighy and Benning are films starring Nick Kroll (Olympic Dreams), Jim Gaffigan (Light From Light) and Rafe Spall (Denmark), which will provide a touch of Hollywood to some of the films in competition.

The festival opens Feb. 7 with a screening of La Belle Époque, followed by Amplify, the dance-friendly, drink-happy party that kicks off the 10-day fest in high-fashion fashion.

For more information, go to victoriafilmfestival.com.

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