If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Victoria Film Festival, it’s now or never.
Starting with its best-yet opening gala, a Speakeasy-themed bash festivalgoers are still talking about, it has been 10 days to remember, with engaging stories about seniors, superheroes, wacky male strippers and political activists filling screens.
There have been some colourful off-screen stories as well — how, for instance, the oceanic imagery in Rob Stewart’s Revolution was so mesmerizing, it took 10 minutes for filmgoers to realize the audio was malfunctioning.
Festival director Kathy Kay has been getting a lot of mileage out of her opening-night fireworks story.
She wasn’t aware she needed a permit to set them off from atop the View Street parkade, as well as a pyrotechnics expert. City councillor Pam Madoff enlisted Colin Barr, who did the Butchart Gardens fireworks for years. Kay also credits City of Victoria staff for facilitating what became a time-consuming production number involving the movement of automobiles from the parkade, and the fire department for green-lighting required insurance an agent initially said would cost $2,000. It didn’t.
After weeks of delays, all pieces of the puzzle finally came together at the 11th hour. “All for 31Ú2 minutes!” Kay said. “But it was a spectacular way to kick things off.”
Peter Campbell reminisced about his nightmarish experiences trying to shoot Take My Advice, I Can’t in the Sahara.
Two days before he was to leave for Algeria, he still hadn’t received his passport back from the embassy in Ottawa. He was finally granted his visa on the condition he couldn’t bring his professional gear. Since it was too late to cancel, his Paris guide smuggled in a small Canon mini-DV consumer camera. They were also prohibited from driving south to the Mali border.
“It just goes to show what you can do with a consumer camera,” laughed Campbell, who worked miracles in post-production.
Jason Whyte, the prolific eFilmCritic writer-photographer who attends six festivals a year, gave Victoria’s a thumbs-up.
“I especially love how [Empire Capitol 6 manager] Jeremy Charles and his staff set up the exits,” he said, referring to the dedicated festival entrances set up south of the main box office to avoid congestion.
Whyte didn’t have any experiences like the one he had at Austin’s 2010 South by Southwest festival two years ago when he inadvertently sat in juror Roger Ebert’s chair. The critic’s “lovely” wife Chaz politely asked if he’d mind moving a row ahead.
Whyte is now busy prepping for his next SXSW visit, which makes you wonder how he fits it all in.
“A lot of coffee,” laughs Whyte, 33. “And trying not to sleep, which gets more difficult with age.”
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