Vancouver, BC Canada

Vancouver International Film Festival October 1 – 16, 2009

UPDATE, Vancouver Film Festival October 15, 2009 --
Perseverance, dedication and passion for the art of film have certainly paid off for VIFF. Now in their ŌnewÕ state-of-the-art home for four years, the festival has settled in to a year-round presence that reflects their commitment to audience and filmmaker alike.


At VIFF, itÕs the little things that mark an overall impression and guarantee a strong festival for guests. I had always ranked their hospitality suite as one of the top at any festival, not because itÕs big or fancy (although this year the suite host was making to-order waffles for each of the guests) but because it brings industry, press and filmmakers together in the most casual and easy of settings. It may seem a small ticket item, but a good hospitality suite can be a major bonus for a filmmaker.


While VIFFÕs venues have always been good, their new home at VanCity Cinema is too good to do justice: technically it provided a perfectly projected screening with the best sound weÕd had in months on the circuit (Sweet Crude Director Sandy Cioffi remarked she was seeing the film sheÕd made for the first time in a long time at this screening. And, their snack bar is non-profit and therefore more than reasonably priced with no Ōupsize popcorn-soda comboÕ promotion in sight (IÕm telling you, itÕs these little things that add up!).


I knew VIFF hadnÕt lost any of its empathy for filmmakers when we arrived at our first screening which was actually at the Granville Theaters. We checked in and were directed to look for the venue manager, who managed to find us before we could even turn around. As we shared introductions, the walkie-talkie came to life and almost before Sandy could ask an invitation to come down and check the color and sound on the projection was offeredÉ


A side note here in case you havenÕt been to a festival as a filmmaker beforeÉfilmmakers are almost NEVER invited to check their films projection 30 minutes before a screening!


ÉOnce the film was over, the dynamic Q&A was kindly extended by festival programmer Michael Ghent who let everyone have their chance to interact but also had thoughtful insights into the film himself, guiding the discussion as much as hosting it (rather than some festivals that press their venue managers to lead the post-screening discussions which they usually do by simply handing over the mic to a nervous filmmaker in front of a stunned audience).


Festival Director Alan Franey has not only chosen his programming team well, but leads by example. The care and feeding of filmmakers at VIFF is obviously important to everyone who works and volunteers the festival. It had been five years since IÕd been to VIFF, but its ranking, on my scale, as one of the top urban film festivals still stands.



I havenÕt been to the Vancouver Film Festival since 2004, but itÕs always been the Canadian festival of choice for me. Easier and more intimate to access than Toronto, always programmed with top notch films, and well attended by Canadian industry and press, Vancouver also boasts the best Film and TV Forum—hands down. IÕve been to a lot of these forums, produced my fair share of them, and moderated more than I can count. This one is easily the best: very well attended, and loaded with strong panelists.


Vancouver Film and TV Forum, September 29 – October 2 plus New FilmmakersÕ Day on October 3.


Tuesday, Sept. 29FILM TALK
Wednesday, Sept. 30
Thursday, October 1
Friday, October 2
Saturday, October 3


IÕm attending this year as one of the producers of Sweet Crude: more on the festival when I return.


Sweet Crude

Sweet Crude


(USA, 2009, 93 min)

The Way of Nature

Projected to supply a quarter of the US oil imports by 2015, the Niger Delta occupies an increasingly fraught position. The conflict between local militants and big oil interests has the potential to destabilize the global economy. Captivating drama ensues when director Sandy Cioffi becomes immersed in volatile local politics. More


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