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VIFF2006: Same Planet. Different Worlds.


At a screening of Dito Montiel's A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints late last evening, while waiting for the projectionist to spool the film in preparation for the upcoming screening, Granville 7 theatre manager Ira Hannen asked the assembled audience of about 300 for a show of hands for ...

Those who had attended more than 5 films. Almost everyone's hand went up. Next: how many had attended 10 films, or more ... about half the hands in the audience went up. More than 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 ... and so on. The average number of films audience members had attended in the Festival's first week was near 20, or some 3 films a day in the first six days.

This year, the Vancouver Sun is running a daily feature where dedicated film aficionados are asked why the Vancouver International Film Festival plays such an important role in their lives. For, in fact, there is a coterie of film-goers, numbering over 100, who each year plan their "vacation" — not to mention, their lives — around Vancouver's august 17-day Film Festival.

In recent days, while waiting in the passholders line-up, VanRamblings has spoken with film-goers who have travelled to visit the VIFF — arriving from the South Pacific ("we do this every year, and have for more than 15 years"), Seattle, Los Angeles, Toronto, northern British Columbia and northern Vancouver Island, Idaho, the southern United States, western and Eastern Europe, Japan, China and Korea, Argentina and Bolivia, and even Australia and New Zealand, and other far flung provinces across the globe.

In addition, there are an equal number of veteran passholders who have taken two weeks of their annual vacation time to coincide with the VIFF, taking time off from BC Hydro, Telus, school districts (teachers who have delayed the beginning of their school year til mid-October, as VanRamblings did for years), the provincial and federal governments, Worksafe BC, Translink, their CGA firm, and more — just so they could participate in as many screenings as possible between September 28th and October 13th.


If the emerging theme of the 25th annual Vancouver International Film Festival is "love and connection touching on the vaster mysteries of the human spirit in contemporary global society" — as would seem to be the case, given the subject matter of the VIFF films in 2006 — the answer to the question, "Why do Vancouver film-goers attend dozens of films early October each year?" is really quite simple. Filmgoers attend the VIFF seeking a sense of connection — not just with their families or those in their immediate community — but with peoples from across our vast planet.

Where other Festivals place their focus on Hollywood celebrity and the attendant parties where "stars" may be found, or the prospect of negotiation for film distribution rights for films arriving without a distributor, the Vancouver International Film Festival is, and has always been, a film-goers Festival, where the emphasis remains on international film.

The actual and stated theme of this year's Festival (as has been the case for many years) directly references the issue of "connection": Same Planet. Different Worlds.

In providing a window on the world where the surreal and the sublime cohere to invigorating and sometimes disorienting effect, each year the Vancouver International Film Festival engages in an ongoing revolutionary act of empathetic understanding, where film-goers are made aware once again that, wherever we live across this planet of ours, the respective concerns and interests of each and every one of us remains the same: family, shelter and safe haven, physical and emotional sustenance, and adaptation to change in an often uncertain and sometimes forbidding world.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 4, 2006 4:04 PM in VIFF 2006


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