Feb 1-10 2002 Victoria Independent Film And Video Festival

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Whyte, Jan 31, 2002.

  1. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    As many of you know from my previous posts, Victoria is not a terrific city for film. Normally, we'll get art films and foreign stuff (aka the stuff I REALLY want to see) very late, and the big blockbuster product churning out really fast.
    Every year, though, they churn out a ten day festival showcasing....well, what prints they can grab. To be fair, there are some interesting films here. I am participating for the first time in this festival, and would really appreciate your comments on any films I should see (Note that I can only attend screenings on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, but would still like to hear any input)
    Full list with details and screening times are available HERE.
    I am for SURE seeing:
    Storytelling by Todd Solondz
    Century Hotel by David Weaver
    Lunch With Charles by
    The Business of Fancydancing by Sherman Alexie (I believe he's attending both screenings)
    If I like what I experience with the festival over the next two weeks, I may consider checking out the Vancouver fest in the fall. Wish me luck! [​IMG]
    Jason
     
  2. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    I live in good ol' Victoria too, but unfortunately, I'm only 17, so the only films I can really go to are the free "classics" and Fritz Lang's M at the Maritime Museum on Feb. 8th. But I'm also looking forward to the Critic's Choice program at The New VI downtown this Saturday.

    Anyways, I envy you getting to see Solondz's STORYTELLING, among other things. Enjoy!
     
  3. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Hey Tim!
    That's too bad to hear you're not old enough to make the festival screenings. The fact that most of these films haven't been offically submitted to the BC Classification for ratings is the main reason. And I believe they are carding youngsters too, unfortunately.
    Actually, I won't be checking ANY of the free stuff out, as I only have time to see screenings on Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully you'll post here with your thoughts on all those activities.
    But hey, there's next year, so maybe we'll be able to hook up for some screenings. Although, if you're around the Capitol 6 or A and B Sound this weekend, maybe you'll spot me waiting between shows. [​IMG]
    Just working on my schedule here. I suddenly have 16 films I want to see, and only have secured tickets for "Storytelling" as of tonight.
    Jason
     
  4. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Here's my temporary schedule for the festival.
    Saturday, Feb 2
    All screenings this day at Capitol 6
    12:00pm: Century Hotel
    3:30pm: Five Years
    7:15pm: Lilith On Top
    9:45pm: Glissandro
    Sunday, Feb 3
    All screenings this day at Capitol 6
    12:00pm: Mile Zero
    3:00pm: Lola
    6:45pm: Storytelling [Ticket secured]
    9:00pm: In The Shadows Of The City
    Note: Book tickets early. Sadly "The Business of Fancydancing" sold out, and the director apparently is in attendance. Maybe I'll run into him after the screening.
    Saturday, Feb 9
    At Capitol 6
    12:00pm: Noche en la Terrazza
    3:00pm: Jedermann's Fest
    6:45pm: The Search for John Gissing
    Then I have to make a dash to UVIC to see:
    9:30pm: My Kingdom
    Sunday, Feb 10
    All screenings this day at Capitol 6
    12:00pm: Une Crabe Dans La Tete
    3:00pm: Der Unberfall
    6:45pm: Mr. In-Between
    9:00pm Song Catcher
    That's what it looks like so far. 16 films in four days, but spread out over two weekends so I'll have a little room to breathe. I'll also be missing Slackers, Birthday Girl, Rollerball and Collateral Damage for the time being, but I should be able to catch up on those in the coming weeks.
    Jason (again)
     
  5. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    I really wish the city I live in would do things like this, we may occasionally get an arthouse flick but its very rare and I have to wait until they get a DVD and god-forbid VHS release.

    I can't wait until Storytelling is released over here, it will be interesting to see how Solondz can follow up on the absolutely amazing "Happiness".
     
  6. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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    Jason
    I would definitely make the effort to see that Friday night screening of Michael Haneke's La Pianiste...you are going to be hearing a lot more from him in the future.
    I'm puzzled why they are showing Strumpet and Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise as separate features. They are 2 fairly short (75 minutes or so) films with the same crew/different casts, and the 2 sort of compliment each other. The were presented at the Toronto fest as one program.
    I don't know if you are aware, but some of these films are currently on rotation on the TMN pay channel (Lunch with Charles, Impossible Elephant, etc.). If you can't see them at the fest, you can catch them there.
    As for the Vancouver film festival...book your vacation time NOW! [​IMG]
     
  7. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    Wow, you've got some great films playing there! First of all, I am very jealous that you will be seeing "Storytelling" before me. [​IMG]
    Don't miss "Un Crabe dans la tête", especially since you liked "Maelström". "La Pianiste" is a great film, but it's not something that I would recommend to everyone. And, "La Stanza del figlio" is well worth seeing too.
     
  8. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Ah, my Canadian film friends chime in to save the day. [​IMG]
    Bill,
     
  9. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    Hey,

    Just got back from the Critic's Choice discussion with film reviewer Ken Eisner of The Georgia Straight and Variety at The New VI in downtown Victoria. He was a good host and had some interesting things to say about film critism, etc. Unfortunately, only 11 people showed up. I guess most of the movie buffs were out watching festival films!

    Anyways, they will be having an interview with him on Cable 12 for the 6 o'clock news tonight, as well as myself (they asked me to stay behind to answer a few questions), so you should be able to catch my ugly mug on there too, as long as they don't edit me out at the last minute!

    Hope you are enjoying some good movies Jason....
     
  10. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Phew! Day one complete! Aka. 4 down, 12 to go. [​IMG]
    If you don't care about meeting anyone famous yet would like to meet independent directors, producers and actors, simply go to the "World Premiere" screenings. Both I saw today, "Five Years" and "Glissando," I got the opportunity to speak with "Five Years" director Brett W. Wagner, uber-cute star Kristina Carr and producer David Zellerford, and also got to speak with "Glissando" director Chip Hourihan. Both of these films were presnted in video (they're still in post-production to make 35mm blow ups). All good people though.
    And I appear to be the only person attending the festival obtaining autographs. I'm up to four. [​IMG]
    Tim, I'm glad to hear you had fun with the other VIFVF festivities. I was filling my gulliver with caffiene for the last two screenings and thusly missed that news, but I hope you got it on tape. (Oh, and if you'd like to do lunch sometime feel free to drop me an email.)
    Jason
     
  11. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Day two is down. Or, 8 down, 8 to go. Or, I'm halfway there. Or...well, you get the point.
    Well, some good and some bad today. I actually got a ticket to see the much-discussed "The Business of Fancydancing" by Sherman Alexie (more on that in a moment), but in doing so, sadly, I was too late to view the acclaimed, BC-shot "Lola" by Carl Bessai. Though, I DID get to meet with Bessai very briefly in the Capitol 6 lobby, which was nice, that is until Michael D. Reid stepped in for his audio bites.
    I saw Bret Wagner several times today as well, as he was seeing most of the same screenings I was (and appears to be a Solondz fan as well, more on THAT later as well). The funny Chip Hourihan I also spotted a few times in and around the Capitol.
    In part in being at the right place at the right time, I also got the privilege of sitting in on the "Animania" and "Let's Make A Movie" screening, which was pretty awful stuff, but I enjoyed hearing the enthused response of the participants. "Animania" consisted of amateur drawings over celluloid, which caused some of the most blinding and deafening sights and sounds this critic has ever witnessed. The people responsible for this did not realize that one second of film run through a projector equals twenty-four frames, so if you only scratch your favorite image onto three frames, it lasts about as long as a blink of an eye. Still, the "artists" got a rousing applause. The "Let's Make A Movie" feature, entitled "A Star Is Torn," featured something to the tune of a much-loved starlet who becomes the target of an aged assassin. Or something like that. I watched the bloody thing twice and was far too distracted by the B-52's "My Own Private Radio" and Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop," poorly mixed in, since there was no actual live sound, just music. Get it? Oh well. I got to say hi to a few of the persons responsible for this section of the festival, and it helped kill some time before my next screening.
    The screening of "The Business of Fancydancing" was nothing short of wonderful. This is a wonderful DV-produced feature directed by Sherman Alexie and starring the VERY versatile and well-spoken Evan Adams as Sherman Polatkin, a gay Indian poet whose life is questioned when he goes back to his reservation (or "back to the res" as several refer to it) to attend an old friend's funeral, many years after he left. The show, pakced to the brim (in fact, OVERSOLD, there were a few sitting on the floor in the front row and a few standing in the rear), recieved an enthusiastic response, and I got to shake hands and briefly chat with Alexie, Adams and co-star Swil Kanim, who plays Mouse. Oh, and keeping with my tradition, they all signed my program. (Oh and forgot to mention, Carl did as well)
    I also got to view "Storytelling" with my friend and favorite movie buddy, Bill Harris. I certainly did not like the film as much as I thought I would; it PALES in comparison to Todd Solondz' previous film, "Happiness, but I'll save my comments for my upcoming review. There has been much discussion about the "Red Box" censor over a particular scene featuring Selma Blair, but was nowhere to be found on this print, which could either be directly from a festival source and the main theatrical run will contain the censor, or perhaps us Canadians got a break yet again.
    In other screenings, I saw the excellent "In The Shadows Of The City" from Libya, and the pitiful short-subject (but advertised as a full feature) "Motion" by Tom Clay. Comments to follow in the 2002 Film List.
    Anyways. It's 12:47 and I have a week full of work ahead of me, to follow with eight more screenings the following weekend, all 35mm presentations, which will give my video-junkified eyes a much needed rest. That said, this is a real eye-opener for me, and I certainly hope there will be some more directors and talent in the weekend that follows.
    ---2002 list update---
    Ah, I finally have time to update with my brief thoughts from the festival weekend.
    Let's start with features:
    The Business of Fancydancing Sherman Alexie, who wrote the highly acclaimed 'Life on the Res' "Smoke Signals," makes his VERY impressive directorial debut here, telling the story of Indian gay writer Seymour Polatkin (Evan Adams), off the reservation for years, who must return to his roots and face those around him. The film is uneven at times (at some points it cuts to Indian dancers for practically no reason) and some of the white actors suffer from "Fish out of Water" syndrome (just like last year's East Indian "ABCD"), but this film has an incredible, dazzling performance by Evan Adams that, I think, is award-worthy (he laughed at me when I told him this, though).
    Storytelling To me, Todd Solondz has some big shoes to fill. I found "Happiness" to be the best film of 1998, a film so rewarding and yet so shocking, with some of the sharpest, finest writing of any film in the 1990's. So it comes as a surprise that his next film, "Storytelling" rates as a disappointment, as good as a film it is anyway. Solondz' two-part film detailing a fiction writer and a non-fiction writer contains all the sublime wit and sickness that he is known for, however the exclusion of the much discussed third act makes this current-running 87 minute story feel a little empty, and makes a crucial line in the first act appear incorrect. I'll definately watch this film again, however my mind will not change that Solondz has taken a VERY slight step backwards.
    Two notes: 1) This Canadian print did not feature the "Red Box" censor. And 2)This is going into the 2002 Film List since it has a NY/LA release already.
    In The Shadows Of The City Jean Chamoun's powerful 2000 film from Libya shows a world of chaos, death and extreme, pointless violence, but there are people living there too. The film is set over a roughly 12 year period during the Lebanon Civil War, following a man named Rami to Beirut and the hardships he and his family must face.
    Also added a bunch of Short Subjects: Motion, a lifeless, noisy hour-long piffle about a homeless man (advertised as a full feature at the festival, it turned out to be 58 minutes without credits.), Certain Things which is about a....well, I don't know, Natasha, an 10 minute piece of animation that will never allow me to look at vaccum cleaners the same way again (this would make a great addition to Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted festival), Strange Invaders, a delightful if perplexing animated fable about an odd child with a peculiar alien hobby, and the well-made yet vapid Quebec short Sad Flamingo No. 132 about an artist who decides to use his cheese-doodle consuming friend as his next exhibit.
    I also slapped a ZERO star rating on the 'Let's Make A Movie' winner "A Star Is Torn" (see my coverage thread for more info) and the awful, noisy mess that is known as "Animania." At least it killed half an hour.
    PHEW!
    -day three-
    Ok, here is day three of the festival:
    Noche en la Terazza (Night On The Terrace) Okay, let's get this out of the way quick: Soledad Alloni is drop dead beautiful. It's almost distracting to a point as this Argentinean beauty gives a good performance as Paula, a translator erotically charged when a mysterious man makes her way onto her audio tapes. He appears and thus begins a strange affair. The film borderlines on self-indulgent (the key sex scene goes on for FAR too long, and when a heterosexual male thinks this, you know it's wrong) and it has a rather goofy climax, but I was won over the premise of sexual awakening in a boredom existence, how Paula needed this in a way.
    Jedermann's Fest (Everyman's Feast) The single best film that I saw at the festival. Fritz Lehner's mysterious, fascinating document of the decline of Everyman (Klaus Maria Brandeaur, free of his "No one fucks with Caesar!" status that he owned in "Druids"), a fashion designer who reflects on his life after his car crashes into a lake. This movie is brutally self-indulgent, but in such a way that lets Lehner come off as a Fellini for the new millenium. He takes brave, daring risks in this 175 minute dream that not only mirror "8 1/2," but the works of Truffaut, Bergman, even Kubrick here and now. And my my, the models are cute.
    The Search For John Gissing PRAY this film gets a US distribution. This may even become my "Jason 'See Happy Accidents'" film to tout this year. Mike Binder's wonderfully madcap comedy is like Woody Allen crossed with Blake Edwards. Binder is not only a talented director and editor, but also a very funny actor as well (though, he looks achingly similar to West Wing's Bradley Whitford), taking the lead as Matthew Barnes, an advertising exec who gets transferred to London and can't find John Gissing (Alan Rickman). Everything around Barnes seems to be falling apart, including his wife (Janeane Garofalo) but is Gissing playing games? And when they do get together to scam the company, things get even worse. It takes a little while to get off the ground (I didn't care for an early hotel scene where I would never believe concierge would simply walk into an occupied hotel room) but boy did it have me laughing at all the crazy performances and even crazier antics. This will be one of 2002's funniest films if it gets opened. It also ends with one of the happiest songs I've heard in years, David Mead's "World of a King."
    The Bank Nick Sievers may have heard of this one, the Anthony LaPaglia starring vechile that puts chaos theory to the stock market. It's creepy, scary and somehow fun at the same time. Although the lead, David Wenham, is very good, it's LaPaglia, on full Alec Baldwin mode, who gets to have the fun here. He plays the bad guy with a snarly "Let's steal some damn money!" attitude and gives these outlandish, overlong speeches his character must practice to the mirror in the morning. Oh, and Alan John's music score is very well done.
    Comments on Day 4 and the added shorts to follow in the morning. I'm dead tired.
    Jason
    Jason
     
  12. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    2002 Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival
    Complete Coverage Essay
    by Jason Whyte
    A week before the festival began, I was under the impression I was just going to see Todd Solondz' "Storytelling" and forget the rest of the films being featured. Then I began to read the program and decided to take a chance. 16 films, a large number of shorts, two glasses of wine, a new friend, two nights on Marty's couch and six slices of Second Slice pizza later, I must say I'm happy with all the time and effort I put into it.
    I only saw 16 films over the weekends, and wanted more. I was losing sleep, and wanted more. I got headaches, and wanted more. The festival workers kept watching me walk into the theater as if I was crazy, and I wanted more. I found all of these voting ballots in my notebook, and I wanted more. Hell, my cell phone was my closest friend. And I wanted more.
    Meeting all these people involved with the festival, the industry types and the filmmakers is what made this festival. Ok, so I didn't get to meet Atom Egoyan again, and Julia Stiles wouldn't come out to visit, but I did get to speak with:
    - Brett Wagner (director), Kris Carr (gorgeous lead actress) and David Zellerford (producer) of "Five Years". I even ran into Brett several more times at future screenings.
    - Chip Hourihan, director of "Glissando." Like Brett, I ran into Chip a few more times on the day after the Saturday screening.
    - Sherman Alexie (director, writer) Swil Kanim (actor) and Evan Adams (INCREDIBLE actor) of "The Business of Fancydancing." This film won the audience award for the festival, and deservedly so. Evan Adams is an actor I was certainly nervous to meet.
    - Carl Bessai, director of "Lola," a film that I sadly missed due to the late screening but ran into the nice guy in the Capitol 6 lobby. With all the raves it got (it won the Famous Players Canada Feature Award) I hope it comes to wide release in Vancouver soon.
    - Fritz Lehner, director of "Jedermann's Fest" (comments below).
    The Films
    [​IMG]
    My choice for the best film of the festival is Fritz Lehner's Jedermann's Fest (Everyman's Feast) which, to me, represents everything that made Federico Fellini the director he was. Austrian god Lehner paints an intricate portrait of Jedermann (Klaus Maria Brandeur) who is dying in his car that plunged into a lake, and reflects on how his last night on earth would turn out. This film reminds me of the old days of cinema where directors were self-indulgent, yet still made fascinating material to watch. It will be hard for American audiences to understand a film like this, but I know I want to revisit it for sure.
    And boy was it interesting meeting this man. VERY Austrian, he looks, sounds and acts like the film that he made. He does speak English very well, but my friend Dorston helped interpret after the film's screening anyway. [​IMG]
    I was also blown away by:
    [​IMG]
    The Search For John Gissing Mike Binder's wickedly funny comedy will certainly get my vote for funniest film of 2002 if it sees the light of mass distribution (and I feel it will). Binder takes Woody Allen's mannerisms and crashes it with Blake Edwards in this goofy story of Matthew Barnes (Binder), an advertising executive run amok in England after he is sent to replace John Gissing (Alan Rickman). But Gissing himself doesn't want to be replaced, so he starts playing with Matthew. Not only is this film drop dead hilarious, it is also refreshing to see such colorful characters and honesty in a screwball comedy.
    Other notables:
    Une Crabe Dans La Tete Andre Turpin's bizarro film almost takes straight from Denis Villenvenue's "Maelstrom" at times, but he does it well.
    Mr. In-Between A brutal yet very stylish British gangster picture that rises above being just another one in the genre.
    The Business of Fancydancing Sherman Alexie's impressive debut about a gay Indian writer who returns to his reservation for a friend's funeral is revealing, funny and sad. Evan Adams is a brilliant actor.
    That's all I have for now. I fully intend to edit some more thoughts into this post, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading my thoughts on the festival. I fully intend to cover Vancouver Film Fest this year along with Bill, and will appreciate any help from you guys in the future on it.
    Regards,
    Jason
     

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