It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since I wrote my introduction to last year's Vancouver International Film Festival. In fact, this year's festival -- which runs September 23rd through October 8th at the same four venues -- opens just two days shy of a complete calender year. Last year's festival was an interesting one which enabled me to see over 20 films and meet some very interesting people. Determined to out do my coverage from last year, I've lined up a long list of films which will see the amount of personal and non-professional time I have dwindle down to near zero. People who know me outside of my job will barely see me, and I'll once again be at screening after screening seeing many of my friends and collegues. Just ask a few of my media friends who've been seeing me day in and day out for the past couple weeks as things gear up for the festival and they'll all say we are already tired of seeing one another.
As is the case in most years, the Vancouver International Film Festival follows hot on the heels of the Toronto festival, which as of writing this article is just now finishing up. Toronto and Vancouver are very different festivals in that Toronto is more of a spectacle with big name stars and big film debuts (Shark Tale, I ♥ Huckabees) whereas Vancouver focuses a lot more on smaller independent features, documentaries, and of course the films of East Asia in the "Dragons and Tigers" series. Still, while both Head in the Clouds (Charlize Theron) and Being Julia made their debuts in Toronto, they are both in the lineup here, as is The Motorcycles Diaries by acclaimed director Walter Salles. So regardless of if you're a fan of North American cinema or cinema from around the world, there is something for everyone at this year's festival.
Just as has been the case in recent years, this year's festival has been split into a number of different series. "Canadian Images" includes features from David Weaver, Don McKellar's second film Childstar, Velcrow Ripper's ScaredSacred -- a documentary focusing on a number of the world's ground zeros, as well as debut films from a number of upcoming Canadian talent. "Dragons and Tigers: The Cinemas of East Asia", programmed once again by Tony Rayns, contains a number of highly acclaimed Asian films including Izo. There's also the very popular and ever-expanding "Non-Fiction" series, which this year includes a specialized section entitled "Changing the World". In the "Changing the World" series will be a group of feature films dealing with globalization, the war in Iraq, and the current political situation in the United States. Leading the series are the international premieres of The World According to Bush by French filmmaker William Karrell and Salem Pax's Baghdad Blogger Video Reports from Iraq.
From September 23rd to October 8th, Vancouver film fans will have something new and interesting to check out besides the usual lineup of Hollywood blockbusters. Granville Street will be buzzing day and night with fans lining up to catch the film world's next big surprise festival hit. This year's festival will feature a record 370 films which will unspool at 4 Vancouver venues, three of which are in the heart of downtown Vancouver and one within walking distance. The festival returns to the Granville 7 Cineplex Odeon, the Visa Screening Room at the Vogue Theatre, the Ridge Theatre, and the Pacific Cinematheque.
This year's festival looks to be an exciting one for myself, with my promise to myself to provide even more coverage of all aspects of the festival. Be on the lookout as ShowbizMonkeys.com becomes your one-stop shop for all the festival reviews, interviews, and general happenings that you could ever hope to imagine. Although I can't see everything, my schedule does already include a number of exciting-looking films and with a number of close friends around to tell me about must-see hits and misses it will be ever-changing as I strive to bring you all the coverage possible from a one-man operation. For those who can't attend, I hope my coverage will do the festival justice, and for those who can, I'll see you at the movies. Look for the guy from my picture with the pass running down Granville Street between venues and hopping from screen to screen at the multiplex venue.
More information on the 2004 Vancouver International Film Festival can be found on-line at https://www.viff.org/ or by calling the Information Line at 604-683-FILM (3456).
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.