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Threading up the 2008 Vancouver International Film Festival

VIFF 2008 - Dig it at
by Jason Whyte

What else can be said about the same festival that I have been traveling to for six years now? The 2008 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival brings an enormous heap of films from around the world and some from our own backyard, and the term “there’s something for everyone” would fit very aptly here. The variety of films is something that VIFF is famous for, and is one of the reasons why I return year after year to experience it.

The festival opens with a gala screening of “Blindness” by Fernando Merielles, who is no stranger to VIFF. His 2002 film “City of God” was a landmark screening here; in fact, my first experiences with the Vancouver fest was when a friend and I were sold out of one of the screenings at the (now closed) Vogue cinema on Granville Street. His new film pits Julianne Moore as a woman who wakes up one morning in an unnamed city only to find that everyone in the city has went blind. It’s an interesting choice to open this year’s festival and certainly one that will get people talking; the film will screen on Thursday at 7pm followed by an after-party at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The festival closes with a screening of Laurent (“Time Out”) Cantent’s “The Class”, a film which won the Palme D’or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The Palme D’or normally screens at VIFF every year and it is nice to see VIFF go out with a bang. This film screens twice on October 10th, once as the official gala as well as another screening afterwards for pass and ticket holders, so everyone should have the opportunity to see the film.

Roughly 300 films will screen in-between these galas, all in various shapes in forms. You have the Cinema of our Time series which screens top films from outside our country, the Canadian Images section of the festival which takes care of the domestic front, the Dragons and Tigers series which is now the largest program of Asian films outside of Asia. along with revival prints, short films, the Trade Forum and even a few parties to help you wash down the films after a long day. If you are smart enough to purchase a pass, I strongly recommend doing a little bit of each film from day to day to immerse yourself in what makes the festival so great.

The films are new, but the festival is the same easily accessible 15 day smattering of films that guarantees that you have a full day of films to keep you satisfied. All but one of the festival venues are within walking distance from one another, with the Empire Granville 7 being the main festival hub, utilizing all seven of its screens – including the large, 700 seat Visa Screening Room with a huge screen and amazing sound system -- so getting to that next film is a breeze. The Pacific Cinematheque and Vancity Theatre are mere blocks away, and both are interesting venues as they screen more of the smaller, experimental and short packages at the festival .(It should also be mentioned that the Cinematheque just had new seats installed earlier this year, a decision that was long overdue). That leaves the Ridge, which is a short bus ride from the downtown core and a very nice cinema with new seats. It is recommended that if you go here for an evening show, it is wise to stay for the next one as it is difficult to get back downtown.

Should you choose to hit up a large amount of films, ensure that you purchase a pass. For those of you that choose to do a smaller amount, it is vital that you purchase tickets ahead of time, which you can do by phone or on the official website. Some “day of” tickets might be available if you get in line early, but it is not worth the chance that you might miss out on what you want to see. This is a busy festival (more than 150,000 unique visitors to last year’s fest, its busiest ever) so do get a spot in line early.

This year’s festival will no doubt have a film for every true film fan’s taste, and I look forward to sharing some thoughts on the films playing and the general festival experience. For those of you new to the festival this year, do not forget to have fun, meet new people, see a lot of movies and get into some film conversations with that next person in line. You never know, it might just be me.

The following article is dedicated to the memory of Wayne C. Lee, a regular attendee of the Vancouver International Film Festival who died late last year at the age of 54. Wayne was a true cinephile, an interesting guy to talk movies with and was well known by many of the festival. He will be missed.

The 27th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival begins on Thursday, September 25th and lasts until Friday, October 10th. For more information on the festival, where to purchase tickets and passes, point your browser to

Watch closely to for exclusive online coverage of VIFF, featuring filmmaker interviews, a chat with Trade Forum speaker (and former SxSW Film showrunner) Matt Dentler and a few reviews of films playing at the festival. – Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 09/24/08 18:48:54
last updated: 09/25/08 16:45:57
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