Vancouver hosts its fair share of film festivals every year, showcasing artful and thought-provoking films from around the world, but what it fails to represent is the underground nitty-gritty types of films. The blood, the guts, the gratuitous violence, and the tits. It’s the raw, off-the-cuff stuff that can either leave you totally disgusted or wanting more and they’re the kinds of films that the Rio Theatre wants to deliver.
November 2-4 will mark the first Rio Grind Film Festival, presenting short and full-length films celebrating all things (but not limited to) grind, opening the festival to sci-fi, fantasy, action, thriller, and horror. “We want to see something edgy, something you wouldn’t see at VIFF, and something that really pushes the envelope, whether it be violent, of a sexual nature, or out-there wacky creative,” explains Corinne Lea, the Rio’s general manager and part owner.
“We’re trying to appeal to the Russ Meyer crowd versus the Terrence Malick,” says production manager, Evil Patrick Shannon. “We’re bringing the spirit of old ’70s grind house, we just want to really keep the spirit of indie film making alive and showcase what people can do and entertain each other.”
Exploitation or “grind” films first emerged in the 1940s and ‘50s in burlesque theatres showing B-movies and cabaret and burlesque shows (making the Rio an ideal venue for a film festival of this nature). These theaters eventually began strictly showing these edgy pictures, “grinding them out” at a rapid pace. It was in the ‘60s and ‘70s that exploitation films really came into what we know them as now, with cult classics like Cannibal Holocaust, Coffy, I Spit on Your Grave, Vanishing Point, and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.
Originally inspired by the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which caters to short and full length genre flicks from all over the world, Lea saw a cult market that needed to be filled in Vancouver. “People were lined up around the block for these midnight screenings,” she says of the scene in Toronto.
While the Rio already hosts its annual Dead On Film Zombie Short Film Competition, the team knew they could take it one step further. “We’ve had a lot of success with the Dead On Film Festival but it’s limited and very specific and we wanted to do something bigger,” says Lea. “There are so many great short and feature length films that have great film makers that have a real passion for it and there isn’t a film festival like this in Vancouver.”
On hand at the festival will be Vancouver’s very own Soska twins, Jen and Sylvia, who have contributed to the recent resurgence in grind type movies, with their debut film Dead Hooker in a Trunk and the upcoming American Mary. Inspired by the 2007 double feature Grindhouse and 2011′s Hobo with a Shotgun, the twins have brought grind to the city.
“We want to show films that are rare, and that people aren’t getting a chance to see anywhere else” says Lea, who only wants the festival bigger and better each year, hoping to make it an annual event. The Rio will be accepting submissions, both short- and feature-length until October 15. The festival is sure to showcase everything from the gruesome and bloody to the unexplainably weird.
For more information check out: riotheatre.ca
By Rachel Morten