Day One Musings from the 2017 Victoria Film Festival

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The 2017 Victoria Film Festival‘s Gala film certainly painted the night a pretty shade of pink with its opening film Window Horses to kick off the night. I thought the heroine Rosie Ming was wearing this event’s colours before putting on the black chādor, before arriving in Persia. Intentional or not, the first day was certainly fun, bright and cheerful. The morning and afternoon were wrought with continuous snowfall, and some of the organizers worried that it might cause problems since social media was on fire with reports of icy conditions and accidents already happening.

Thankfully, the troublesome weather faded away by evening so filmgoers can safely drive instead of slide to and fro from home. But for those who want an early start, Fort Tectoria is running virtual reality demos during this 10-day event to show off this technology as the coming thing. Eventually, some futurists predict it will integrate with cinema to create enhanced experiences. By the time I arrived downtown, I had a tough call to make: to go see Journey to the West 2: The Demons Strike Back at Cineplex Odeon or play video games. Very rarely, does a film festival offer this kind of opportunity for nerds like me!

Because I’m a huge fan of Tsui Hark and Stephen Chow‘s films, the decision was obvious. Chow wrote/produced and Hark directed this latest work. I can’t say the team up was perfect, but I can report that I give high praise to Sony Pictures in their decision to bring this film to North America barely a week after its premiere in China. The big reason is that Chinese New Year is celebrated almost worldwide. I call seeing this film as my unofficial start to the film festival. I have plans to see the official selections from their Asian Cinema lineup: Tatara Samurai, Suffering of Ninko and Soul on a String during the week so I have a healthy mix of comedy, mysticism, drama and cowboy to savour as this year’s highlight. I will offer a full review of these movies on otakunoculture.com, since on this pop culture site, we look at products from around the world and half the title implies we love Japanese culture too (I say the Asias, but don’t tell James that).

CTV’s Arts & Entertainment personality Adam Sawatsky officially announced the start of the festival and Victoria Film Festival Director Kathy Kay thanked numerous official sponsors and media outlets before the first screening of the night. After Window Horses, Don McKellar took to the stage to answer a few questions from the audience along with two members of the production crew (my apologies for not writing their names down). For this veteran of the Canadian cinema scene, not many people realized he’s done voice-over work for animations before. He played the title character in Odd Job Jack which aired on the Comedy Channel from 2003 to 2007, and to hear him voice the German poet, Dietmar — a character which befriended Rosie — made for some amusing moments in this film.

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The Gala party afterwards had some local filmmaker talents mingling with festival-goers. Canadian television personality Richard Crouse is back in the house; he will be part of the show, introducing a few films and hosting special events. From the Times Colonist, Michael Reid was present. To name all the wonderful talents would be too long; to summarise the night, I liked this year’s choice of venue to have the party. It’s not as big as the previous years and to have everything within an easy to mingle space made finding old friends and making new ones easy when people were able to chat in between the musical sets by the entertainment.

To name all the wonderful talents would be too long; to summarise the night, I liked this year’s choice of venue to have the party. It’s not as big as the previous years and to have everything within an easy to mingle space made finding old friends and making new ones easy when people were able to chat in between the musical sets by the entertainment.

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Excellent music was provided by the Victoria High School R&B Band, and they sang the night away with covers of fond songs like “Celebration” and even “Sledgehammer.”

This party’s theme was to welcome Spring and there was no marmot or groundhog in sight — kind of ironic when considering the snowy weather earlier. The props to extol the coming season were unobtrusive and the decor of the ceiling proved to be the true scene stealer. I’m not sure if everyone noticed the luminescent umbrellas located high on top. Had they been lower, I’m sure I would have had that wow moment like Harry Potter did when he first entered the grand hall to witness floating candles and a smorgasbord of food. In what I found was a special hand-picked selection. I got spoiled by the gala parties from a couple of years ago. Since then, the snacking opportunities have not been the same. I’m betting money is being saved so the 25th Annual event will be truly spectacular.

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The night was catered by the fine chefs from Fat Daddy’s Catering, offering tasty beef sliders, cream puffs and a cheese potato salad (which I did not try since the lineup was big at the time I walked by). In the liquid front, free wine & spirit samplings from de Vine Vineyards and four different kinds of beer from Spinnakers Brewpub were offered.

After a few drinks, fortunately, James was not here to see me tip over. I safely made my way home via public transportation. I was unsure if the snow that began falling since Friday morning would persist or not.

This coming week will have me exploring as much of the show (from lectures to late night movie screenings) as possible. Twohungryblokes may go on a temporary break as we want to decide on what other aspects of the local scene to explore other than food for our weekly articles. As for reporting about the festival, I will update as often as I can on both here and my personal Twitter account @edohotep.

James and I also welcome suggestions for new places to visit.

In the meantime, if you have not bought your tickets yet for VFF’s Sips & Cinema, I recommend it! Wine or cocktails are offered. This unique aspect of the show offers film buffs to talk about the movies seen. This year’s selection includes Personal Shopper, I Called Him  Morgan, Saint-Amour and The Happy Film. If you missed watching Bugs on the Menu, it’s playing this Sunday, Feb 5th as part of the Victoria Independent Film Professional’s Association Night.

 

 

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