Post-Halloween, I’m not sure what I want to do next. Thankfully, the season is not over with Last Chance Productions bringing Evil Dead the Musical to town November 3rd and 4th to the Metro Theatre! You can click here to buy tickets. I mentioned them in an article last year about them finally coming to town, and this show is worth revisiting since it’s bloodier than Rocky Horror. As with live theatre, there will always be refinement. It’s not often audiences get sprayed than toss stuff in celebration of a scene in the latter.
Honestly, I should not have to leave my hometown of Victoria, BC to have some spooky fun. Usually, I’m tempted to go to Vancouver so I can enjoy Fright Nights at Playland. With this island community, a few events are more or less going to be the same year-after-year. Sadly, Rocky Horror Show fits under this bill as with slightly different Corn Mazes and variations of the Haunted House to navigate through. To get the route you want on Ghostly Walks requires getting a specific tour guide. What I want to experience are the special one-off’s. This garden city is home to an annual theatre production at Craigdarroch Castle which Launch Pad Theatre Company is doing a great job.
About four years ago, the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) experimented with the idea of making a Night at the Museum style fun and having a party like none other — perhaps inspired the film of the same name. Other museums around the world offer something similar, and they are usually geared for the whole family than adults to enjoy. There are even a few which get a touch academic. The articles I read online about these events often makes me think I should travel to check these other options but I always hold back, hoping my town’s museum can offer something similar. In what I’ve experienced at RBCM’s Night Shift, the organizers do a great job. They also touch up a few of their permanent exhibits to get into the spirit.
The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS) is active year-round, and in October, their annual fair from last weekend brings the community together — and the curious to learn about the elements of what makes traditional Japan cool. Now in its 18th year, their success lies in how they enrich and entertain the public who do not know much about the Land of the Rising Sun.
For spoiled folks like me who desire more of an academic edge, I’m craving the experience from the University of Victoria’s Pacific and Asian Studies CAPI Conference on Japanese Popular Culture. Two events were held on campus back in the late 90’s and they set the bar. Plus, I visited Japan and experienced the life on the streets that some festivals from afar have no plans to replicate. To sample the unique food from stalls at either a theme park like Fuji-Q Highland Park or at a seasonal event requires travelling back there.
VNCS’ version is quaint. It is worth going to at least once. I’ve been to this event years ago and saw no reason to come back in any regular basis. After James Shaw told me about 2016’s event perhaps offering Ikayaki (squid on a stick), I took a chance at returning. Was he wrong about what he heard? Most likely. This mouth-watering reason was the only reason I trekked out to the Municipality of Esquimalt.
Now in its fifth year, Esquimalt Ribfest is growing in popularity and it may well be exceeding the capacity of how many people can be at Bullen park. I finally made it back to this show. For once, I was not ill or down with a sprained ankle. Three years have passed since I was here last, and while nothing much has changed — especially when it’s moreorless the same group of ribbers — I feel changes are needed if it’s to accommodate an ever increasing crowd and be versatile. Grizzly BBQ is a new entrant, but their scents were not enticing as I was letting my nose be my guide for which ribber to hit.
James went on Saturday with a date (he’ll argue otherwise and I was amazed). When he told me, of course I had to ask him for his thoughts so I can provide a summary about this event. He too thought it needs changing. He hoped to get his drinks and meat side-by-side than to hop across the field. I told him that’s how this event has always been, and it’s his fault for not getting his alcohol first and meal second. He arrived during the mad dinnertime hours and lucked out getting in. People were entering in small numbers, equaling those who left. Once inside, he looked at the scary lineups of everyone craving protein and was thankful the time it took to get to the till was not long. He enjoyed the food and wasn’t here to review since he was with his girlfriend. But I grilled him for opinion anyway and he had a lot to say in how space was used. He did give high marks for Gator BBQ‘s beans tho’. He thought it included either honey or molasses.
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!
Tickets can be bought online or at the door. A one time $2 membership fee is required to attend all movies.
The 23rd Annual Victoria Film Festival takes place from Feb 3 to 12, 2017, and the selection is as regularly diverse as my tastes. Missing this year is the In Conversation series, and this particular aspect has always been of interest to me. I love hearing about the thought processes of these talented filmmakers. Sometimes, one might get to meet some really big names. One year had Gareth Edwards present, talking about his work prior to Godzilla. Now that he has helmed one of the biggest movies of 2016, Star Wars: Rogue One, how many people can say they have met him?
Taking the Frame Off is a new program examining the coming trends, but will it be the same? With topics ranging from “What’s App, Doc” which looks at how content is consumed in a digital age to “Storytelling in Virtual Worlds,” my guess is in how media is created for the modern age will be at the forefront. Plenty can be said about how this new medium, VR, can work. This year, it is getting the spotlight at Play @ The Fort at Tectoria on 777 Fort Street. Here, demos of how virtual reality works will be offered free of charge and the games that’s playable now will be the spotlight. If we ask nicely, perhaps they might have a presentation of Allumette or Henry the Hedgehog.
More about this up and coming technology will be explored in an upcoming interview to be published on otakunoculture.com with Vincent McCurley, a technology specialist working for the National Film Board of Canada. They will be offering eight titles, two of them are shorts, at this year’s event! Of course, leading the charge is my top pick, which is also this year’s opening gala.
Window Horses (drama, animation)
Feb 3, 7pm – Cineplex Odeon Downtown
The unique character designs and visual styles are at the heart of why I’m loving this film, and it is topping many of my lists of movies to must see. With a story about young Rosie Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh) going to Iran, just what will she find there? She’s a poet yearning to visit Paris, but this Middle Eastern country is nowhere close to the City of Lights. Here, she will discover secrets to her mixed heritage and I suspect this coming of age film will be a true delight. This movie is selected as the opening Gala for this festival.
2016 has been a cruel year with numerous celebrity deaths. Hollywood is mourning the loss of two legends from early last week, Carrie Fisher (best known as Princess Leia in Star Wars) and her mother Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain) the following day. Fisher is a mental health and substance abuse advocate, and without Gary, her registered therapy French bulldog to give her that loving support, she might be at a different place.
Cherry Bomb Toys is honouring both these legends by asking fans to donate items (photos, toys, recordings (videos or albums) and anything else in between) in recognition of either performer’s legacy — this store’s own stock included — to raise money for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. They develop programs, help and treat people who are struggling with mental health issues. Cash is preferred over debit or credit card. That way, all the money goes to where it’s needed instead of covering the fees banks charge.
For the entire month of January, these products will be placed on display for collectors to see. The prices are very reasonable, and most of these items should fly fast. As more product come in, additional space will be made available. The following image is just an example of what is presently there. If anyone is looking for Star Wars themed Dixie cups to use in the next party, they got ’em!
(please click to enlarge)
For support outside of the island and beyond, all you have to do is offer your time by volunteering at a mental health clinic. Donating money does not always provide a solution. It pays for the equipment necessary that not all hospices may have for proper diagnosis and care. As I struggle with my own erratic seasonal depression, sometimes all I need to know is that emotional support is near. Having those close friends that you can speak to help. To know that we are not alone can defeat those demons attempting to tear us down.