A new executive director, a new venue, modern ticketing systems, the return of government funding and the inclusion of live performances for the first time are among the changes that have Vancouver International Film Festival organizers beaming.
The festival enters its 31st year Sept. 26 looking more stable than ever.
More than 380 films from 75 countries will light up the silver screen during the festival.
The usual focus on film – specifically on Canadian, Asian and nonfiction productions – remains, but the addition of the Centre for Performing Arts as the venue for the closing gala and a couple of live performances offer a brief glimpse into the future of the growing and diverse festival.
As does a new real-time, electronic ticketing system and other modernizations made possible by the return of a $250,000 community gaming grant and one-time operating fund.
The festival was ineligible to receive the grant since 2009, when the government shut the door to adult arts group.
That decision was reversed earlier this year after a provincial review of the gaming grants process.
“It makes a huge difference,” said the festival’s new executive director, Jacqueline Dupuis. “[Losing the grants] certainly took quite its toll. It was a much-needed investment. We’re working in the new economy and that certainly helps us get through it as we work to find new revenue streams.”
The security gives VIFF the opportunity to keep growing, as it did last year by setting its highest box office and attendance figures yet (152,000 admissions).
“We had our most successful year ever last year. We want to introduce new people to new forms of cinema … to show the best new films from around the world each year,” said VIFF director Alan Franey. “This is the year to look opportunistically to the future.”
VIFF opens Sept. 26.
The Sept. 27 opening gala film is Oscar-nominated Canadian director Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children.