The Vancouver International Film Festival has just reached the half way mark, with one more full week of films to feast on. To help navigate the rest of the festival, I thought I’d share a page or two from my festival diary and reveal a few tips and tricks for those who have yet to experience film fest fever.
I also thought I would round up some of the films with a hometown connection, and so I’ve selected 10 films from the program that have a special Vancouver connection.
I have to admit, this festival takes a special place in my heart. VIFF was one of the first major events that I attended when I arrived in Vancouver back in 2004. Since then, I have returned each year like a pilgrim in search of cinematic zeitgeist. VIFF is a real film fan’s festival; it has great programing with a strong international selection, excellent shorts, and a nice mix of docs and dramas. For my first festival, I started with a quota of 10 films, adding a few more screenings once the festival was underway. Ceský sen (2004) was my festival favourite for many years to come! Then in 2006, I got to enjoy VIFF with the aid of a corporate sponsor pass; it was my first taste of the unlimited bliss that a festival pass can offer.
The following year, I was determined to get myself a volunteer pass. (NOTE: to volunteer for the festival, you need to apply well in advance. Keep an eye out for the volunteer application form next year around July or August). After a very positive experience volunteering with the hospitality crew in 2007, I continued my volunteer service at VIFF for another two years as a driver in 2008 and 2009. Driving the new fleet of Hondas was the funnest volunteering I think I’ve ever done! There are many benefits to volunteering at VIFF; you get to work with a great team of volunteers, all of whom are enthusiastic about film. You might get to mingle with the directors and stars. I’m especially proud that I got to drive Gabrielle Rose and Tantoo Cardinal to their gala film presentation, the year that they won Audience Favourite for Mothers and Daughters (2008)! While working as a volunteer does involve some hard work at times, remember you also get access to the stash of volunteer tickets! And of course, the volunteer wrap parties are super-fun!
Pass-holders do need to line up to get access to each day’s ticket allotment, but lining up is also part of the experience. That’s your opportunity to chat with your neighbours to get the latest festival buzz or favourite film recommendations. In the past, I’ve scheduled my holidays during the festival, which gave me even more chances to stand in line for the films I really wanted to see. I went from seeing a dozen or so films the first year to seeing over 20 films, then 30, then over 40 films in one year! (40 is my physical limit). By 2010, I went back to buying ticket packs, primarily because I really like having my tickets in hand. New this year, the VIFF is selling a 5 pack of tickets, along with 10 packs, 20 packs, and 30 packs. I recommend starting with a personal quota of films you are comfortable fitting into your schedule, and work from there. And when you hear great things about a film from your friends or by following the #VIFF hashtag, you can always try to add a few more screenings to your schedule.
I suppose the absolute best advice I can give for VIFF is to arrive early. This is always a good policy, but when it comes to film screenings, it’s best to arrive 30 minutes before your film. Ticket holders are allowed into the cinema 30 minutes before showtime, which is plenty of time to choose your favourite seat and maybe grab some refreshments from the concession stand. If you really want to see a film but DON’T have a ticket, you can always try the rush line. Again, 30 minutes in advance is a good time to line up for rush tickets, possibly a bit earlier if you know the show is going to be really popular.
Finally, as promised, here are the 10 films with their upcoming screenings that I’ve selected which should be popular with the hometown crowd:
- Becoming Redwood by Vancouverite Joely Collins.
Oct 11 6:15PM
Oct 12 2:45PM
- Blood Relative by 65_RedRoses director Nimisha Mukerji.
Oct 6 6:45PM
Oct 10 4:15PM
Oct 11 9:15PM
- Crimes of Mike Recket starring Nicholas Lea and Gabrielle Rose, directed by Bruce Sweeney.
Oct 6 9:30PM
Oct 9 3:15PM
- High Five: An Adoption Saga by production company Interfilm, comprised of siblings Julia Ivanova and her brother Boris.
Oct 6 9:15PM
Oct 8 4:00PM
- In No Particular Order originally funded as an Indiegogo campaign, co-directed by Terry Miles and Kristine Cofsky, who also stars in the production.
Oct 10 9:15PM
Oct 11 12:15PM
- Occupy Love by B.C. born Velcrow Ripper.
Oct 6 12:00PM
Oct 10 12:45PM
- Camera Shy, a comedy directed by North Vancouver’s Mark Sawers.
Oct 6 9:15PM
Oct 8 3:30PM
- Random Acts of Romance, a comedy from Vancouver filmmaker Katrin Bowen.
Oct 5 6:00PM
Oct 9 12:00PM
Oct 12 6:00PM
- Reel Youth FF features lots of Canadian content; I’m pretty sure some of it is from Vancouver!
Oct 9 2:15PM
Oct 10 6:30PM
- Stories We Tell, the Sarah Polley documentary which was a last minute addition to the VIFF schedule. Ok, this film may not have a Vancouver connection, but I don’t think you will want to miss it! It was such a late addition, it’s not even in the program!
Oct 10 8:45PM
Oct 12 2:30PM
And finally, if you need the link to that very handy VIFF schedule pullout, here is the PDF!