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VIFF 2009: Thankful for the VIFF Staff & Volunteers


Weekends are always tough for cinephiles, at the annual Vancouver International Film Festival. On weekends, VIFF draws novitiates to the Festival, and almost inevitably they 'talk'. The weekenders play with their iPhones or Blackberries or Samsung smartphones, the blue glow of the phone in the darkened theatre a disconcerting distraction from the more real-life drama on the screen. Better to attend matinée screenings on a weekday, as many of the filmgoers who love films are choosing to do, than risk having one's experience of the Festival tainted by a texter, or a talker.

But enough of that. On this day, as we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving ...

We are, on this Sunday, in the waning days of the 28th annual Vancouver International Film Festival so, perhaps, the time has come to acknowledge the very fine work of the staff and volunteers who create this Festival-by-the sea for all of us grateful patrons, each and every year.

First off, note should be made of the following: with 640 screenings of 377 films, thus far in the days of our annual Festival everything has gone off with uncommon aplomb. There have been no technical glitches, no one has reported seeing a DVD version of a film because the 35mm print failed to arrive, films start (mostly) on time, Festival staff and volunteers are invariably helpful and pleasant (which goes a long way to making the Festival an overall better experience for filmgoers) and, once again this year, from programmers Alan Franey, PoChu Au Yeung, Mark Peranson, Terry McEvoy and so many, many others, to the hard-working theatre managers, staff have created a first-rate filmgoing experience for the appreciative throng who attend screenings throughout each and every day.

VIFF PROGRAMME MANAGER POCHU AU YEUNG & 'A PROPHET' STAR REDA KATEB VIFF Programme Manager PoChu Au Yeung, and 'A Prophet' star Reda Kateb

We caught only one film on Saturday evening, the Cannes' stunner ...

A Prophet (Grade: B+): With a 'been there, done that' quality about it, given the surfeit of prison dramas we see on TV and film on this side of the pond, this Cannes 2009 Grand Jury / Palme d'Or winner, offers a French prison set drama that is as hard-edged as you might expect it to be, as it tells the story of 19-year-old petty criminal Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), who's been sentenced to six years in prison, amidst competing 'tribes'. Director Jacques Audiard traces Malik's development from cowering inmate to prison yard kingpin, and beyond, in a surprisingly humane manner, considering the amount of blood and gore onscreen. From beginning to end, it is Malik's maturational process, and our awareness of his keen, innate intelligence, that makes A Prophet compellingly watchable film fare.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 11, 2009 4:17 PM in VIFF 2009


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