By Reid Duncan Carmichael
VANCOUVER — As the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) draws closer, film enthusiasts around the city are licking their lips at the thought of seeing some of the world’s most fantastic and buzzed about films. With 350 films being showcased from 70 countries at a number of local theaters, including VIFF’s year-round home, Vancity Theatre, the festival program is stuffed with an eclectic mix of feature-lengths and shorts, Cannes-winners, and zero-budget indies stretching across all genres. Still, while the program is host to some of the best films from around the globe, films made in Canada, by Canadians, are always sure to receive an enthusiastic welcome.
Vancouver makes an obvious home for these Canadian producers, directors, and actors. The city, known as “Hollywood North,” is often garnished with a movie set or two. Still, though Vancouverites in general have a pretty good idea of the sheer amount of work and talent available within the city, it’s apparent that the film community at large doesn’t see Vancouver as the film giant that it is or could be. Enter VIFF: by encouraging the development of talented people from Vancouver and Canada and showcasing them alongside the world’s best filmmakers, the festival is preparing these local artists for the world stage.
In addition to numerous industry opportunities, including networking events and prolific guest speakers, VIFF is continuing to host the much-loved Canadian Images Series. The series simultaneously brings Canadian films to a Vancouver audience and allows for further development through things like awards and cash prizes. Last year, Vancouver local Andrew Huculiak’s Violent, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival but “came home” for VIFF, walked away with “Best Canadian Feature” which netted an $8,000 prize. This year the award will be worth $10,000 and will sit alongside a $2,000 prize for “Emerging Canadian Director.” Both are sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada.
The series will welcome premieres from many filmmakers, including Chelsea McMullan (Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John), Alexander Carson (O, Brazen Age), and Alex Williams (The Pass System). It also features debuts from “Canadian maverick” Guy Maddin (The Forbidden Room), and award winning-artists Sean Garrity (Borealis) and Alan Zweig (Hurt).
If you plan on checking out any series at VIFF, this may be the one. Supporting our local film community should be a priority, especially for film fanatics that want to get more involved in the huge, but mostly underground, film community of Vancouver. Plus you could always get an “I remember [insert filmmaker here] before they went Hollywood” out of it if you follow and support the development of some of these great artists. Still, VIFF is and always will be the ultimate film hipster, finding and sharing the best of Canadian film before the rest of the world sees it. So thanks, VIFF. Just don’t brag about it.
You can check out The Canadian Images Series and many others at VIFF from September 24th and October 9th. Stay tuned for more on this incredible festival and how it’s supporting Canadian Filmmakers at beatroute.ca.BC, British Columbia, Vancouver International Dance Festival, VIFF 2015