Nicolas Conard and Werner Herzog discover some of the oldest art made by man in  Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Nicolas Conard and Werner Herzog discover some of the oldest art made by man in Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Film festival offers diverse fare

Ninth annual Vernon Fall Film Festival happens at the Towne Cinema Monday, Nov. 14 to Thursday, Nov. 17.

For the past nine seasons, the Vernon Film Society has reeled the best in documentary features, and dramas, for those who like a little “meat” with their popcorn.

This year’s ninth annual Vernon Fall Film Festival, taking place at the Towne Cinema Monday, Nov. 14 to Thursday, Nov.  17, is offering a number of side dishes, including some French fare and other tastes from around the world.

“The November film festival is our way of bringing in eight top-quality films that our regular schedule would just not permit us to show. In a way, it’s a thank-you to our loyal Vernon patrons,” said Vernon Film Society director Linda Wills.

The festival opens Monday with the pulse quickening drama The Whistleblower, starting at 5:15 p.m., which follows a Nebraska police office (played by Oscar winner Rachel Weisz) who spends six months in Bosnia as a UN peacekeeper.

After arriving, she is promoted to the UN’s gender office, where she begins studying sexual-assault cases, and soon discovers that her fellow peacekeepers are involved in a human trafficking ring.

The film is followed by the definitely more lighthearted The Trip (Monday at 7:30 p.m.) starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon of Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story fame.

This time, the boys play loose versions of themselves when they are tapped to review fine restaurants through the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales regions of England.

Expect a few celebrity impersonations and a lot of bickering along the way.

Documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) returns with his latest exploration with Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.)

In the film, Herzog follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to 30,000-year-old artwork said to be the oldest to have been created by man.

French actor Guillaume Canet returns to the director’s chair since his César winning film Tell No One, this time to helm Little White Lies (Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.)

The film, which stars Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (Piaf), is sort of a French version of The Big Chill, where a group of long-time friends gather for a summer holiday after the near-death accident of one of their entourage.

Another actor-turned-director Vera Farmiga both stars in and directs her debut film, Higher Ground (Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.)

In the coming-of-age drama, set in the ’60s and ‘70s, Farmiga plays a woman who comes to live in an evangelical Christian community and has to come to terms with her spirituality and the relationships in her life.

French actress Catherine Deneuve plays against type in Potiche (Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.) as a submissive housewife to a wealthy industrialist.

When her husband is taken hostage by his striking employees, she takes the reins of the family business and proves to be a remarkably effective leader. Business and personal complications arrive in the form of her ex-lover (Gérard Depardieu), a former union leader.

In the same vein as some of Mike Leigh’s finest acerbic comedies, Submarine (Thursday at 5:15 p.m.), written and directed by Richard Ayoade,  follows a Welsh teenager who wants to lose his virginity before his next birthday, and prevent his mother (Sally Hawkins) from having an affair with a smooth talking spiritual guru.

The festival ends with Canadian entry Beginner’s Guide to Endings (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.)

The film stars American actor Harvey Keitel as a deadbeat dad and compulsive gambler, who years earlier signs his three sons up for unsafe drug tests that turn out to have dire consequences.

Advance tickets and passes to the film festival are on sale now at the Towne Cinema and the Bean Scene coffee house. Cost is $7 per film, or $30 for five-film pass. For more information,