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Organizers set stage for 'hybrid' Victoria Film Festival

In-person appearance by actor Tom Skerritt among highlights at this year's event, which runs Feb. 3 to 14.
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Antonio Banderas, left, Penelope Cruz, and Oscar Martinez star in Official Competition, one of 86 feature films and 27 shorts that will appear Feb. 3-14 as part of the upcoming Victoria Film Festival. credit: Protagonist Pictures

The Victoria Film Festival has announced details surrounding its upcoming edition, which include several high-profile events and screenings during its Feb. 3-14 run.

Participating venues include The Vic Theatre, Capitol 6 Theatres and Cineplex Odeon Victoria, among others. A total of 86 feature films and 27 short films will be screened for both online and in-person audiences during the event, as per the public health orders that are in place until Jan. 18. Uncertainty made the planning process difficult and could have an effect on the proceedings in the next several weeks, but festival director Kathy Kay feels good about the 28th edition of one of the city’s longest-running events.

In addition to high-profile films such as Official Competition, which stars Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, and an in-person appearance from actor Tom Skerritt, of Top Gun fame, there is a very strong local flavour this year, Kay added. “Beyond the international films, we have three local features. Lots of times that total is either zero or one, so I’m really happy about that.”

The festival is moving forward as a hybrid event, following an online-only 2021 edition. To celebrate, Kay and her fellow organizers have branched out to several new venues, including the Fairmont Empress hotel. Local artists have reinterpreted a series of classic film posters, which will be exhibited at The Atrium throughout the festival, and local clothing designers have also created gala dresses that will be on display during opening night at the festival’s flagship venue, The Vic Theatre.

There will even be a short-film component held on a Price of Whales whale-watching boat, further adding to the uniqueness of an event known for its unpredictability. “Everybody has been through a bad time, so we want to support the community this way,” Kay said.

Stay tuned for additional updates — hopefully of the positive variety, according to Kay. “The in-person element is currently limited to 50 per cent capacity, but if Dr. Henry opens it up further, then we will open up. We’re hoping to bring back that feeling of going to the movies. It’s a special thing.”

Tickets for all screenings go on sale Jan. 7 and can be purchased until Feb. 14 through victoriafilmfestival.com.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com