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Victoria Film Festival: Still cutting edge, despite funding cuts By Travis Paterson – Oak Bay News Published: January 26, 2010

John-Landis-and-Richard-Crouse-VFF-20121Festival looks to increase audience engagement, sponsorship

It’s still the cutting-edge festival that began as the Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival in 1995.

And the people in charge of the Victoria Film Festival hope it will continue to be after the 2010 edition, the last with any significant government grant money.

There’s no reason to expect any dramatic change in the VFF, said head programmer Donovan Aikman, who believes the event is at a stage now where it will carry on just the same, perhaps with a little extra sponsorship help.

“Ticket sales improve a good percentage every year and we feel that’s because of our interactive aspect,” he said.

Inviting as many directors as the festival does for discussion on their films creates engagement with the audience and creates the type of experience that will help the festival survive financially and move ahead, Aikman said.

Of the hundreds of movies that come through the selection committee’s hands, 53 features and 94 shorts make up the 2010 catalogue, which begins showing Friday (Jan. 29).

“We’ve never changed our philosophy from independent films,” Aikman said, and the trio of opening gala films is a good indication of that.

The big-budget Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky shows how far the indy movement has come. Yet the Canadian opening gala selection Beyond Gay is a testament to what can be done with little more than an airplane and camera, he added.

Making waves in the pre-festival leadup is the controversial, shit-disturbing documentary The Brothel Project, chosen by the Victoria Film Producer Association to spotlight for the festival.

Although the film is not officially part of the VFF opening gala, the hype around it has seen it treated like one.

Made by Vancouver filmmaker April Butler-Parry, the movie follows an attempt by local newspaper columnist and former Peers executive director Jody Paterson, and former sex-trade worker Lauren Casey, to facilitate the opening of a legal brothel in Victoria.

The movie embraces the classic film festival cliché of being cutting edge and the VFF is a perfect place to debut it.

“It’s an interesting take on the brothel question – it’s independent and it (focuses on) things that people won’t get a chance to see regularly,” Aikman said.

“Plus it’s totally local, filmed 90 per cent in Victoria. So even though it’s not an opening movie, it’s an important industry film for the festival at large and for directors and producers in Victoria.”

If you don’t have an opening weekend ticket yet, it may be too late. But there’s a lot of exciting opportunities besides those three movies.

The stirring look at Western complacency surrounding genocide in Darfur promises to spark conversation, not just with B.C. director Uwe Boll, but special guests Senator Mobina Jaffur and actor Matt Frewer.

And for industry up-and-comers, this year’s festival also features SpringBoard Industry, a three-day (Jan. 29-31) series of talks, meetings and opportunity to network with industry names.

“Everyone gets 15 minutes to talk about media-related and changing trends, provide insight, network and shop their film,” Aikman said.

A $175 Industry Pass covers the SpringBoard series. Film festival memberships are $2 (one is all you need) and screenings are $9 each.

For a complete schedule visit www.victoriafilmfestival.com.

Kristofferson IN the house

The Victoria Film Festival has created the IN Award and Kris Kristofferson is coming to accept.

The first ever honouree of the lifetime achievement award has earned it for a career of independence, innovation and inspiration.

“Kristofferson has never been afraid to tackle the really challenging roles and projects, which has always kept him fresh and on the cutting edge,” said festival director Kathy Kay.

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