09/25/2013 09:53 EDT | Updated 11/25/2013 05:12 EST

TOP 3 VIFF picks

With 341 films, the Vancouver International Film Festival can easily overwhelm, so CBC Radio's The Early Edition waded through the program and came up with its top 3 VIFF picks.

1. Down River

This Vancouver film by Ben Ratner is just one of many examples of homegrown talent at this year's festival. It's inspired by Ratner's friendship with local actress Babz Chula, who passed away from cancer in 2010. She was larger than life — and this film captures her spirit of generosity with a lot of heart. It's about three young women struggling to pursue their artistic dreams, and find a common muse.

2. Wolf Children

Japanese animation is typically dominated by Hayao Miyazaki — the man behind iconic films like "Totoro" or "Spirited Away". But in "Wolf Children" — Mamoru Hosoda carves her own territory in the genre by telling a whimsical story about a young woman who falls in love with...a wolf. The painted landscapes are a joy to marvel at.

3. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Checking out the festival wouldn't be complete without seeing a documentary. This one won a lot of acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival this year. It's an insightful look into the lives of the women who defied the Putin government with their public "punk prayer" -- and shows the audience exactly who they are and aren't.