The 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival wrapped up show on Friday, October 11th. Almost 350 films were shown on nine different screens in seven movie venues over the sixteen days. This year was expected to be a nervous one as it was trying to fit a new venue format but it worked out well in the end.
Getting used to new venues was part of this year’s VIFF. It was with that with us volunteers, the supervisors and the VIFF heads. The theater I volunteered at, the SFU Woodwards, was unique that it was located in the Woodwards Square of Gastown. It’s also a campus for film and theatre students of Simon Fraser University. The theatre itself was very good. It’s both a screen and a classroom with a seating capacity of 350. Also the theatre didn’t have concessions but the shopping square had no shortage of eating facilities.
One of the challenges of this year was separating moviegoers from students. Another was knowing how to set up lines. The venue consisted of the main floor, second floor and theatre on the third floor. On the first day we had the box office on the main floor and throughout the VIFF. Thus we’d have the ticketholders on that floor. We’d organize passholders in a line in the outdoor area of the second floor. On the third day we’d have ticketholder and passholder lines all outside. That became a concern because of the rain. After that we returned to having ticketholders indoors on the first and passholders indoors on the second. A bit of getting used to.
I was able to take advantage of my film viewing opportunities as often as I could. One highlight was the Rio Theatre showing films at 11:30 in the evening. That was actually one of my best chances to see films. Yes, I’d be very tired the following morning but it was worth it for my VIFF fix. This year featured an additional treat for volunteers however it would have to wait until after the Festival was officially finished. The treat was free films for the repeat screenings in the week that followed the Festival. Volunteers were allowed only 5% of the seats during the actual Festival but repeats allowed for 20% of the seats up for volunteers. That explains why you see so many of my reviews coming late. It was great for me because it allowed me to see three more films and do some more volunteering at the SFU Woodwards Theatre. Oh yeah, that’s another thing. VIFF repeats were not strictly limited to the Vancity theatre this year. They also added in repeat screenings at both the Rio and the SFU Theatre on Saturday and Sunday. I volunteered at SFU that Sunday and finished the night taking stuff from both SFU and the Rio back to the storage of the main VIFF office downtown.
Those who’ve followed my blog may have noticed I saw sixteen films in total both at this year’s VIFF and the week of repeats. They came from many countries around the world like the US, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Iceland, Mexico, Poland, Croatia, I could go on. The list could even be extended if I add in filming locations like Laos, Cambodia, Cuba or India. The films ranged from dramas, to comedies to thrillers to documentaries to horror films. The quality ranged anywhere from film for art’s sake to moviemaking to getting their message across. The material ranged from entertainment-driven to message-driven to envelope-pushing to family friendly. I also saw two nation’s official entries for Best Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Oscars: Heli and The Rocket. One thing I felt I missed out on this year was my fix of short films. I did get a fix of it over at the reel Youth Film Festival but I would have liked to have seen more shorts shows. Also I only saw two Canadian films. Hopefully I’ll see more next year. If you want to see all my reviews of VIFF films, just click here.
The Festival also ended on a positive note for us volunteers. We were all given a volunteer screening at the Vancity Theatre to attend. Actually the VIFF organizers had to do two volunteer screenings of the film in order to accommodate the 700 volunteers for this year. I went to the one that was held late Friday evening. It was a good occasion. Out in the lobby there was your typical party food and we were all treated to at least one free drink. I was able to meet with people I volunteered with. There were door prizes given to people before the movie was shown. Then we were treated to The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I actually saw it four years ago but I was cool with seeing it again. Also have you ever noticed the things you see in a movie the second time you forgot you saw the first time?
As for the Festival itself, the Festival films attracted a total of 130,000 in gated admission. As a flat number, that’s 7% lower than last year and 20,000 shy of 2011’s record but that’s actually a very optimistic number to the VIFF staff. The reason being the new theatre facilities had less total capacity than those of last year and the VIFF staff were anticipating a smaller number. Don’t forget there were some facilities that took some time off from showing VIFF films. Like the SFU theatre had all of Monday the 6th off and the evening off on the 7th. Also the three screens at the International Village stopped showing movies on Sunday the 6th. Media coverage was extensive and mostly positive. Audience and filmmaker feedback was also very good regarding the films shown and the facilities. The VIFF wrap-up report called the ticket numbers ‘a record year.’ I assume that ‘record’ would be based on a per-screening analysis which is a good estimate of over 250 per screening.
Here is this year’s VIFF by the numbers:
-130,000+: gated attendance
-1000+: Film and Television forum delegates
-515: public screenings
-341: films shown
- 212: feature length (60+ minutes)
-92: Canadian Films shown
- 31: feature length
- 55: shorts
- 6: mid-length
-85: non-fiction films shown
- 73: feature length
- 17: Canadian
-75: countries entering films
-64: Canadian premieres
-41: North American premieres
-27: International premieres (first screening outside home country)
-26: World Premieres
-16: days of showing films
-15: entries in the Best Foreign Language Film category for this year’s Oscars shown
-9: screens showing films
-7: theatres participating in the VIFF
-27: media screenings
-26: VIFF repeats
Another year of good numbers. Now I know some of you want to know what were the award winners, right? Here they are:
ROGERS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
-LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (Japan) dir. Koreeda Hirokazu,
VIFF MOST POPULAR INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM AWARD
-DESERT RUNNERS (USA) dir. Jenifer Steinman
VIFF MOST POPULAR CANADIAN DOCUMENTARY AWARD
–WHEN I WALK, dir. Jason da Silva
VIFF MOST POPULAR ENVIRONMENTAL FILM AWARD
-SALMON CONFIDENTIAL(Canada) dir. Twyla Roscovich
VIFF MOST POPULAR INTERNATIONAL FIRST FEATURE
-WADJDA (Saudi Arabia/Germany), dir. Haifaa Al Mansour
VIFF MOST POPULAR CANADIAN FILM AWARD
-DOWN RIVER, dir. Ben Ratner
WOMEN IN FILM AND TELEVISION ARTISTIC MERIT AWARD
-SARAH PREFERS TO RUN (Canada) dir. Chloe Robichaud
DRAGONS & TIGERS AWARD for YOUNG CINEMA
-ANATOMY OF A PAPERCLIP (Japan) dir. Ikeda Akira
Runner-Up: TRAP STREET (China), dir. Vivian Qu
Special Mention: FOUR WAYS TO DIE IN MY HOMETOWN (China), dir. Chai Chunya
BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM AWARD
– (tie)RHYMES WITH YOUNG GHOULS, dir. Jeff Barnaby
THAT BURNING FEELING, dir. Jason James
MOST PROMISING DIRECTOR OF A CANADIAN SHORT FILM
-Matthieu Arsenault for NATHAN
Honorable Mention: Timothy Yeung for 90 DAYS
BEST BC FILM:
-THE DICK KNOST SHOW, dir. Bruce Sweeney
MUST SEE BC AWARD:
-LEAP 4 OUR LIFE, dir. Gary Hawes
BC EMERGING FILMMAKER AWARD:
-Matthew Kowalchuk for LAWRENCE & HOLLOMAN
So there you go. Those are the winners of the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival. A good end to a great VIFF. I know this year was a nervous year as we didn’t know what to expect with a new set of theatres to work with. Nevertheless it turned out great and we had our best per-screening rate ever. Next year’s VIFF is scheduled from September 25th to October 10th, 2014 and should be bigger and better. Also I hope one year the VIFF grows to achieve accreditation from the FIAPF: the International Federation of Film Producers Associations. Most of the big Film Festivals are accredited and the VIFF being accredited should definitely add to its attraction. Anyways see you next VIFF!