Tuesday, October 16, 2012

VIFF 2012 - Recap

After an excellent 16 days, VIFF 2012 has come to an end. Here are a few thoughts and observations on my first experience attending a film festival full time:
  • Firstly, a huge thank you to the organizers of VIFF for putting on a great festival, and for providing me with a pass to enjoy it with.
  • All told, I saw 64 films in 16 days on 9 different screens. Easily the most I've ever seen in such a short time span. Normally I'm lucky if I can make it out to 4 or 5 for the entire festival.
  • Being a pass holder has some nice perks, I was able to get into every screening I wanted, and with unassigned seating it's tremendously convenient to be allowed in first.
  • It's amazing how quickly I was able to adjust to seeing so many movies. On the first day, seeing 3 was enough to completely wear me out, but as I got into the rhythm, I stretched it out to 4, then 5, and then finally 6 on the last day.
  • I managed to catch 10 of the 2013 Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film submissions. The only one I sadly couldn't fit into my schedule was Uruguay's entry La Demora.
  • Got very lucky with the weather this year. It was sunny almost the whole time, and amazingly it didn't rain at all until the final day. That's practically unheard of for Vancouver in October.
  • Much praise to the staff and volunteers, who from what I observed, were all very friendly and helpful the entire time. Same can't be said for a few of the spectators, but I guess that's unavoidable.
  • The VIFF trailer that opened every film was nicely done. Short and simple, and even after seeing it 60+ times it never got annoying.
  • Speaking of annoying, I wonder how badly the directors want to bang their heads against the wall when they have to listen to some of the inane remarks they get during the Q&A sessions.
  • I've known this for years, but the Vogue Theatre is a lousy place to watch films. It has a huge seating capacity which makes it the obvious choice for the popular screenings and big galas, but the seats are cramped and uncomfortable, the screen is way too small for a venue this size, and the building has terrible ambient light control, resulting in a washed out picture most of the time. Hopefully they can find a way to take advantage of the new 50 foot screen at The Centre for more than just the closing gala in the future.
  • On the other hand, the Vancity Theatre is an absolute gem. Hands down the best place to watch films in the city. The sound, the screen, and the seating, are all very impressive. Next year I will have to try and fit in more screenings there.
  • It's a shame that the Granville 7 cinemas are closing down. While nobody will miss the tacky 1980's faux art-deco decor, or the awful sight lines, the convenient central location is something that can't be replaced. The four main venues for this year's festival were all within a five minute walking distance from each other, so it will be interesting to see what will happen in 2013.
Finally, here's my roughly ordered top 20 list (expect full reviews for all of these in the coming days/weeks):
  1. Holy Motors (Cannes)
  2. Beyond the Hills (Cannes)
  3. Barbara (Berlin)
  4. Laurence Anyways (Cannes)
  5. Berberian Sound Studio (Edinburgh)
  6. The Hunt (Cannes)
  7. Tabu (Berlin)
  8. Stories We Tell (Venice)
  9. The Key of Life (Shanghai)
  10. Rust & Bone (Cannes)
  11. Rebelle (Berlin)
  12. Amour (Cannes)
  13. Leviathan (Locarno)
  14. Twilight Portrait (Kinotavr)
  15. Camion (Karlovy Vary)
  16. Children of Sarajevo (Cannes)
  17. Lore (Sydney)
  18. Our Children (Cannes)
  19. Neighbouring Sounds (Rotterdam)
  20. Come As You Are (Oostende)


Mettel Ray said...

Masssssive amount of movies! Poor eyes. :D

365 moviesandsongs365 said...

I want to watch most of your top 12 sooner or later! I could imagine you will slow down a bit on the viewing front for the rest of October :)

Michaël Parent said...

Great! 64 films in 16 days is awesome! Your Top 20 has lots of films I will try to watch soon!
Holy Motors just opened last week here in QC and I'll try to catch a viewing if work gives me a little break.

d_4 said...

Holy crap it was really that many. The number stunned me. And you're gonna be reviewing 20? Only?! Sarcasm.. I'd say it's ridiculous but in all honesty, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Diana said...

wow, 64 films, that is quite an accomplishment, congrats. Nice to see Beyond th hills so high on the list. I am very curious about Amour, The Hunt, Laurence Anyways and Lore. thanks for all the reviews!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yep I'll be taking a little break from bright screens in dark rooms.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Definitely. I have a few more lined up this month, but no crazy marathons.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Well then you must check it out before it goes away.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Actually I'll likely end up reviewing more than the 20, but it will be at least that many.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Diana. Beyond the Hills is probably too slow for most people, but that's what I love about new Romanian cinema. Keep checking back for the rest of the reviews.

filmnohito said...

I had meant to post on this article when it first came out because when I saw you had watched 64 films I was genuinely shocked.

You Sir, are a true cinephile.

You must have booked all of your work holidays just for this event. If I lived in a city with a film festival like that, I know I'd book my 26+ days off. I just need to move to Vancouver or Toronto... Heck, even London.

I look forward to your review of The Key of Life. I intend to get mine out some time next week. Berberian Sound Studi might be a British film starring Toby Jones but there's absolutely no sign of it in the multiplexes over here.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Sounds insane, but after a couple days it just felt like a normal routine. As for holidays, I'm actually self employed, and I was lucky enough (or not), to have no work pending for those couple of weeks.
I will get to reviewing Key of Life this coming week or next. Trying to do all the Oscar hopefuls first.

Joel Burman said...

Nice round-up. Glad that you had a positive festival going experience even though the intensity to it. Great stuff indeed!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Joel. It was a great time, and I'm already looking forward to next year if they invite me back.

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