VANCOUVER — Three-hundred features and shorts will unspool at the 18th annual Vancouver Intl. Film Festival, which will open Sept. 24 with the soccer comedy “The Cup” (made by Tibetan lama Khyentse Norbu) and will close Oct. 10 with Cuba’s “Life Is to Whistle.” In addition to the numerous screenings in between, a gala will be held in honor of Canuck helmer Jeremy Podeswa’s “The Five Senses.”
This year’s world preems are largely homegrown, with “Bad Money,” “Daydrift,” “Noroc,” “T’lina: The Rendering of Wealth” and “Two Brides and a Scalpel: Diary of a Lesbian Marriage” all hailing from the western provinces. “Stuff,” “Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment” and “Shirley Pimple in the John Wayne Temple” are from back east. (Canadian Images programmer Ken Anderlini said his 114 Canuck titles were culled from a record 550 entries.)
Other world preems are Japan’s “Audition” (from Miike Takashi), Thailand’s “Beyond Forgivin’ ” and the Yank-crafted “Spectres of the Spectrum,” the latest collage-provocation from “Sonic Outlaws” maker Craig Baldwin. International bows include Peru’s “Carnada,” Belgium’s “Mobutu: King of Zaire,” and the French-made “Silence of the Angels.”
Overarching themes are harder to find here than at last year’s VIFF, which emphasized exile and immigration. There is an emphasis, however, on teen-centered pics. This effort involves some offbeat advertising — and the provincial government relaxing its censorship rules (ticket buyers normally have to be 18 to see unrated pics).
“We simply have to enfranchise new audiences,” fest topper Alan Franey declared at a press conference Thursday. “A few years ago, young people still had at least heard of filmmakers like Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Godard. Now they have no idea. Our demographic is getting older, and at the same time, teenagers are growing up with all their images coming from one place — Hollywood — and they are frustrated by that.”
Other VIFF components include a nine-pic tribute to Egyptian helmer Youssef Chahine and the fest’s largest selection of docus ever. The big developments here, Franey noted, have come in technology, with major advances in video recording and projection.
The fest has added a new venue to its downtown roster, with the Blinding Light — which claims to be North America’s only year-round underground cinema — now lending its cabaretlike space for 16mm and vid screenings.
Complete scheduling information is posted on the fest’s Web site: www.viff.org.