Header Image credits (left to right): 120 Beats Per Minute (VIFF 2017), Maineland (VIFF 2017), Whose Streets (screened for BHM 2018), and Êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines (VIFF 2020).
A message from Tom Charity, VIFF Centre Programmer
Like a lot of people, I’m feeling a little disconnected these days.
It’s been over a year since I watched a movie at the cinema.
As the programmer at the VIFF Centre’s Vancity Theatre this past decade, I find myself nostalgic for everything from the smell of popcorn to the hush as the lights go down in the theatre… even the line ups: the anticipation for another night out at the movies. Home streaming is convenient, but ultimately cinema is made to be shared.
Recognizing the prize asset we hold in our beautiful theatre, it’s been our policy at VIFF to extend a hand to other film festivals, non-profits and cultural institutions. Whether it’s Bard on the Beach, Vancouver Opera, Indian Summer or the Queer Film Festival, it’s hard to think of a local arts group we haven’t worked with. I’ve always felt that these co-presentations bring diversity to the programming and new patrons through our doors.
They’re also often among the most fun and memorable events in our calendar. That’s why I’m writing to you today to ask you to ensure these collaborations continue by making a donation.
I look back and think of that time we had four esteemed chefs in the four corners of our lobby, each crafting a meal out of leftovers, raising funds for the homeless - just another night at the Italian Film Festival. I remember when PuSh presented a movie to a blindfolded audience… how the Mariachi festival stampeded dozens of dancers and musicians across our floors… the orphan cats and care dogs who put in celebrity appearances… history unlocked in City Archive presentations… jazz bands, bluegrass balladeers, punks, sopranos and string quartets… parades and fashion shows and poetry readings… an astrophysicist debunking Star Trek science… that time the Chali-Rosso Gallery lent us a sculpture by Salvador Dali as a sidebar to a Lon Chaney silent… celebrating National Canadian Film Day with seven Canadian movies, back to back, from 10am-midnight.
I’m guessing you can think of a few more nights like these.
Jimmy Stewart used to say that the great thing about making movies is that you are giving people tiny pieces of time they remember and treasure forever. He was right: the movies we love stay in our hearts. And if we see them in a cinema, the where and the how tend to stick in there too.
I’d like to thank all the folks across the Vancouver cultural scene who have collaborated with us at VIFF over the years to carve out our own pieces of time. It’s creative teamwork we look forward to resuming in the very near future in our newly renovated space. Help us get back down to the pleasurable business of forging these cultural connections and cooking up a more truly cosmopolitan city.
A message from J Bradford, Theatre Operations Manager
In my role as VIFF’s Theatre Operations Manager I’ve hosted many of you in the Vancity Theatre over the past 14 years. And on my days off, I’ve often joined you in the audience.
My journey with VIFF began in 1989 when a friend encouraged me to volunteer for VIFF in the exhibitions department at the Ridge Theatre. This was an attractive opportunity for a lifelong film fan and frequent attendee of the double bills at the Ridge. That first year was an amazing experience. With a smorgasbord of international films to choose from, I viewed more than 20 films in 16 days.
Four more years of volunteering led to me managing the Ridge during the 1995 festival. Working most every night of the festival certainly cut into my film viewing, but it was just as fulfilling to interact with fellow cinephiles and to become a staff member of this growing organization. When the VIFF Centre opened, we now had a year-round screening room! I began working full time as Theatre Manager in January 2006, and the rest is history.
With our theatre currently closed, I’ve been archiving materials from our 40-year history and unearthing programs from the many local film festivals like KDocs and the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival that we’ve hosted at our year-round home. I also came across a box of thank you notes from various organizations that left me very nostalgic as I thought about the many fond memories of collaborations with so many wonderful people.
Watching these organizations grow has been fulfilling, as many were in their infancy when we first began working together. By bringing such focus to their quality programming, these specialized festivals have exposed me to films I may have not otherwise seen. They’ve also been a way for our audience members to find a community of likeminded film fans and immerse themselves in films from a particular region or genre. I’m proud that VIFF has been able to provide a place for these events. it’s vitally important to support these organizations. Can you help VIFF continue this long standing commitment?
With the current obstacles facing other arts organizations, it’s been heartening to be able to continue to attend some of these long-standing community festivals as they staged their first online editions on our VIFF Connect streaming platform. While we all eagerly await the return of in-person experiences, these creators can still showcase their work to their dedicated audiences and find new fans across the province.
I’m so looking forward to welcoming all of you and our partner organizations back to the newly renovated VIFF Centre, but until that is possible, I’m hoping you will make a gift today to help us continue to provide a space, in person or on VIFF Connect, where essential ideas can be shared through the power of cinema.
Until we can open our doors again, I'll see you on VIFF Connect!
A message from Curtis Woloschuk, VIFF Associate Director of Programming
With VIFF celebrating our 40th edition this fall, we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on the path that’s brought us to this point and thoughtfully consider how we’ll plot our course forward. While it’s undeniable that there’s much uncertainty at the moment, we also believe that there’s tremendous potential for positive outcomes from the current tumult.
Before you ask: No, VIFF isn’t experiencing a midlife crisis. You needn’t worry about us suddenly showcasing eSports or championing “influencers”. Just as global filmmaking remains as vibrant and vital as ever, our commitment to celebrating them is unwavering. we aspire to bring added relevance to our exhibition of international, Canadian and Indigenous films by creating space for more programmers to help shape our showcases and ensure that they resonate with the diverse communities that we serve.
Having long played a role in developing emerging filmmakers, VIFF is now also committing ourselves to amplifying new curatorial voices who will bring different perspectives to film programming, identify unique contexts for screenings, and facilitate essential dialogue about the diverse work we’re showcasing.
Running the gamut from one-time-only events to extended residencies, these initiatives will ensure that each of our distinct programming spaces - from the VIFF Centre's new Studio Theatre to our VIFF Connect streaming platform - becomes a destination for discovery and discussion.
In turn, benefitting from mentorship from VIFF’s staff and access to our organization’s infrastructure, these programmers will accelerate their career development and become key contributors to Canadian arts and culture for decades to come.
I couldn’t be more excited about welcoming new perspectives to our talented team and seeing how these collaborations allow us to deliver even more dynamic and impactful festival and year-round programming.
Of course, these initiatives rely on both resourcefulness and resources. As a not-for-profit organization, we’re grateful for the financial support we receive from members of our growing VIFF family. If you want to support progressive programming that reflects our communities, develops the next wave of film curators and allows you to see the world of cinema through different lenses, I encourage you to make a gift today.
As a long standing supporter of VIFF and a Patron Circle donor, I was curious to see how VIFF would handle the Black History Month (2021) programming following the departure of the original programmer. I am pleased to say that the concept they introduced - using a curatorial programmer - was extremely successful. It was thoughtful, different, passionate and very community-focussed. I feel it’s a model that can be easily adapted to different communities, and I am looking forward to seeing more communities actively participating in VIFF year round programming.
Patrons Circle Donor
The Italian Film Festival, entering its 10th year of operations, was developed and created in partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival. The Italian Film festival’s success is due, in large part, because the expertise and opportunities created through the VIFF partnership. The staff expertise and experience helped create a vibrant festival that showcases the rich cinematic history of Italy. Working with VIFF made the dream of creating an Italian Film Festival a reality.
Mauro Vescera, CEO
Museum of Vancouver