For most people, the 24th annual Vancouver International Film Festival started on Thursday, September 29th, with the opening day of screenings at the festival's 10 screens. In terms of the official launch of the parties that come with the festival, that occurred later that night at the Aquarium. However, for those of us in the media who had already experienced 2 1/2 weeks of pre-festival press screenings, the party circuit opened up two days earlier at the 3rd annual Brightlight Pictures party at local hot spot Cin Cin on Robson Street.
Set up on the outside with a mini-red carpet complete with limo arrivals and MC Terry David Mulligan, the party was swinging upstairs with a who's who of the local entertainment and political industries. Food and drink were in plentiful supply as it gave us in the local media a chance to get together over some drinks and talk shop with a number of hot young Canadian talent. Although officially underway at 6pm, the party didn't really get started 'til an hour later with the arrival of Water director Deepa Mehta and star Lisa Ray, looking glamorous as always with an almost unrecognizable hair style. It took a few glances before my party companion and friend Greg and I were able to make her out.
Walking around the room -- a task that was getting increasingly more difficult as the minutes passed by -- led to an almost endless supply of recognizable faces, even if I couldn't quite remember all the names. Corner Gas stars Nancy Robertson, Gabrielle Millar, and Fred Ewaniuk (who starred in 2003 VIFF favourite The Delicate Art of Parking) were among those spotted, as well as Cold Squad star Joely Collins. Other recognizable faces included Brendan Fletcher, whose film Paper Moon Affair was playing the festival, as well as Gil Bellows, last seen in 2004 VIFF entry Childstar. TV and movie stars weren't the only ones getting in on the party action as politicians Sam Sullivan, Carole James, and Jim Green also worked the room.
A large contigent from the local entertainment writing community were also on hand, with Paul Myers from The Movie Guys from ShawTV, as well as a number of writers from the Georgia Straight, The Sun, and The Province also taking in the festivities, not to mention one of the hardest working publicists in town, Kate Perkins, who must have had more than 10 films playing in the festival.
Although I managed to head out of there around 9pm and make an early night of it, the party continued to rage on well into the night, with Chris Kattan and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli from The Lord of the Rings) making appearances. It was still a worthwhile and fun start to the next 16 days of festival screenings, interviews, and parties.
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.