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Vancouver Launches Film Festival Programme


By Robert Alstead - Posted on 10 September 2009

I don't know if it was the fact that Vancouver was under a deluge this morning, or there's just fewer journalists around these days, but the Vancouver International Film Festival media conference seemed less busy than in previous years.

Artistic director Alan Franey admitted that there had been "obstacles" to getting the show on the road this year. In spite of the recession and tight budgets, he promised "the best line-up in our history." But there were no chocolate truffles for the attendant media and filmmakers at the luncheon this year.

The launch at 10.30am at VIFF's home, the salubrious Vancity Theatre, came an hour and a half before the local arts community gathered in the wet outside the Vancouver Public Library to protest recently announced deep cuts to arts funding by the Provincial Government.

VIFF will be looking for new funding next year, but Franey was keen to point out that the uphill struggle was over for this year. "For the next few weeks, in keeping with the festive spirit, VIFF will be enjoying the films and let others worry about arts funding."

Today saw the unveiling of the teaser programme of some 100 films (a third of the films) with the full programme available from 12 September.

As in previous years documentary is a major portion of the festival with two programme strands from the NFB - a retrospective (the NFB marks its 70th anniversary this year) and a second featuring new work.

Two strands of documentaries Follow the Money - a response to the recent debacle in the financial and banking world - and the related environmental section the Way of Nature look intriguing. "It's not all bad news," Franey promised.

The eco strand will see the premiere here of Fanny Armstrong's climate change docudrama The Age of Stupid and Sea Shepherd doc, which I previously reviewed, At the Edge of the World.

There was applause for the fact that the opening film is a Canadian film this year (actually Canadian/Irish) - A Shine of Rainbows, described as "an enchanting story about the transformational power of love and the magical possibilities
of life." I hope that it's better than it sounds.

The Trade Forum looks strong this year. In previous years, it seems to have been a little blind to some of the changes taking place in the media world.

It's good to see that the Forum keynote speech, by Hollywood lawyer Peter Dekom, will try to tackle the seismic shifts taking place in the film, TV, and media world.

I look forward to that. And it will be interesting to see how many producers turn up. A similar forum event looking at how the mediascape is changing everything, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, had few producers in attendance. Surprising, when you think that this was the year that a candidate from file-sharing site the Pirate Bay won a seat in the European parliament.

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