'Five Years' gets feature prize

VICTORIA, B.C. — Sherman Alexie’s “The Business of Fancydancing” was voted the most popular pic at the 8th Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival, which wrapped Sunday.

The first-time helmer was on hand at the fest, alongside topliner Evan Adams and producer Scott Rosenfelt. The same team was behind the hit “Smoke Signals,” also about life on and off a native reserve.

In the juried competish, the feature prize went to Brett Wagner’s “Five Years,” a tense family drama which world preemed here. The kudos for Canuck pic was picked up by Carl Bessai’s “Lola” and the best first feature was “Mile Zero,” with a cash prize going to helmer Andrew Currie.

Lynne Stopkewich won documentary kudos for “Lilith on Top,” a record of the popular band Lilith Fair’s last year on the road with Sarah McLachlan and company. And best short pic was the comic “Bad Animals,” helmed by American David Birdsell.

Also buzzworthy among the vid-shot preems were Chip Hourihan’s “Glissando,” a father-son road pic drama set in ’70s Arizona, and Gabriel Fleming’s “One Thousand Years,” a low-key San Francisco tale of thwarted romance with a whimsical sci-fi edge.

Popular Canuck entries included the B.C.-China co-pro “Lunch with Charles” and the nutty Quebec comedy “Un Crabe dans la Tete,” and there was a strong response to “Mr. In-Between,” a U.K.-made helming debut for Atom Egoyan’s longtime lenser Paul Sarossy.

Also from the U.K. came Danny Boyle’s pair of anarchic, 75-minute pix for pubcaster the BBC, “Strumpet” and “Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise,” which positioned themselves well for commercial release.

The fest’s opening title, George Hickenlooper’s kitschy all-star effort “The Man From Elysian Fields,” drew more hoots than kudos.

Among the fest guests, veteran Brit helmers Don Boyd and Michael Anderson were on hand, the former with his overheated Richard Harris starrer “My Kingdom” and the latter (best known for “Around the World in 80 Days”) for a master class in directing. As part of an Austrian overview, Viennese auteur Fritz Lehner presented the international preem of “Jedermanns Fest,” a three-hour vehicle for thesping great Karl Maria Brandauer, as a fashion maven partying through his last night on earth.

Fest attendance for the 160 pix, plus workshops, panels and lectures was up from previous years, from 7,000 tix to roughly 10,000.

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