VIFF turns 30, displays films for all

By Tabitha Swanson
[associate culture editor]

Uproar in Heaven 3D one of several animations playing at VIFF.

Looking for some great new films to titillate your senses and stir your emotions? Well look no further. From Sept. 27 until Oct. 12, the Vancouver International Film Festival, or VIFF, will be celebrating its 30th year.

Created in 1982, VIFF is a yearly non-profit cultural extravaganza that shows top films from around the world. According to their website, VIFF is among the five largest film festivals in North America. With films from over 80 countries, there is something for everyone and anyone to enjoy.

Alan Franey, the director of VIFF since 1988, shared his insight on how the films differ this year compared to last in an interview with The Runner.

According to Franey, “The films are radically different. The thing for us is every year has a completely different flavor because of what’s happening in the world, what’s on filmmakers’ minds, the styles that people are using, and of course, there has been a lot of transformation in cinema because of digital technology. It’s exciting times we live in.”

With the increasing pace of digital technology, one might think it would be hard for festivals like VIFF to keep the same popularity and attendance rate as they have in the past. Ellie O’Day, the director of media for VIFF disagrees:

“People who are serious about film… will definitely want to see it on a big screen. So, I think that is the one element. The second element is… a lot of people just like to have their hands on stuff, and in the case of a film, its like sitting in a room full of people watching the same thing and sensing other people’s reactions. There is still a social aspect to watching film that a lot of people really appreciate. And you might think that’s a generational difference, but it’s really not. I’m really surprised how many younger people still feel the same way, that there is really a difference to watching a performance on your computer and watching it in a room full of people, whether it’s a live performance, standup comedy, a concert, or whether it’s a film. There is still that social element of taking part in it with other people. And no matter how the technology changes, I still think that there is a very strong element to that.”

The festival has an average audience of about 1,200 people every year and hopes to expose more people to the joys of film in the coming years. There are many film festivals around North America and Canada, though they do differ in some aspects.

According to O’Day, TIFF in Toronto is of similar size, but the glitz and glam is on a whole other level.

In Toronto, they focus more on the actors, and in Vancouver, they want to focus on the actual making of the movie, so they showcase the directors. After most shows, they have a Q&A period where the majority of the audience stays to hear what the directors have to say.

Both Franey and O’Day agree that festivals like VIFF encourage people to try things they might not have tried had they come across it on their own.

“All cultures have cinema. It’s not like the opera, or some other specialized music festivals; it really includes so many different kinds of people: young, old, English speakers and non-English speakers. It’s a great way to get to know your city, and I hope that continues in the future,” Franey said.

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