A wickedly subversive satire featuring six outrageous stories unified by a theme of revenge took top honours Sunday night as the closing credits rolled on the 21st annual Victoria Film Festival.
Argentine filmmaker Damian Szifro’s Wild Tales — Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film — was named best feature film during the awards presentation and wrap party emceed by Victoria comedian Mark Robertson at Lucky Bar. The film received big laughs and ovations during sold-out festival screenings.
Writer-director Maureen Bradley collected the best Canadian feature award for Two-4-One, her offbeat romantic-comedy whose transgender hero and ex-girlfriend both end up pregnant after a one-night stand.
“Thanks for not going to see Fifty Shades of Grey,” Two-4-One producer Daniel Hogg joked to Saturday night’s full house at the Odeon before the first of the homegrown film’s sold-out weekend screenings.
Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s disturbing sequel to The Act of Killing, in which former Indonesian death-squad leaders were challenged to re-enact their crimes carried out in the 1960s, was declared best documentary, standing out in a crowded field.
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All the Time in the World, Suzanne Crocker’s crowd-pleaser chronicling her family’s experiences living off the grid in the Yukon wilderness, won the Cineplex Entertainment Audience Favourite Award. The annual award is bestowed on the film that receives the highest percentage of favourable feedback from filmgoers who rate movies on post-screening ballots.
Crocker’s documentary was such a hot ticket it became the only film to receive a second unscheduled screening, added the morning after it played to a packed house at the Vic.
The Metropol Audience Favourite short film award went to Catharine Parke for Very Good Dirt, her 13-minute film about a once-thriving Manitoba town buried beneath a sea of purple flowers from an alfalfa crop.
Calgary-based animator Lyle Pisio took the best short animation award for Haiku 4: STILL, a poetic, deam-inspired piece about a character’s obsession with trying to resurrect his dead father.
The festival attracted a record-setting 27,000 filmgoers this year, its rising attendance reflected in 27 sellouts of popular films that saw cinephiles lined up at Yates at Blanshard most nights.
Popular titles included Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood, Trunk: The Movie, the Quebec films Autrui and Henri, Henri, Drunktown’s Finest, 1001 Grams, Clouds of Sils Maria, Miss Julie, It Follows and Infinite Man.
While festival organizers are considering requests to bring back films such as Wild Tales, All the Time in The World, Henri, Henri and other hits for return engagements at the Vic, such decisions depend on distributors, they say. Meanwhile, filmgoers who missed Two-4-One can see in at the University of Victoria’s Cinecenta March 24 and 25, with Bradley in attendance for a post-screening Q&A, and on Superchannel later this year.
This year’s 10-day festival kicked off Feb. 6 with a screening of Francois Girard’s Boychoir followed by a lively opening gala party that attracted 420 revellers to Noir. The faux 1940s-style nightlub was created in the historic Promis building at 1008 Government St., with swing dancers and dozens of festival-goers dressed for the part and entertained by the Naden Band’s Pacific Blue blasting out period standards.
Festival guests included comedians Ron James and Mark McKinney, Quebec film star Brigitte Pogonat (Autrui), actor-director Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas), Oscar-winning filmmaker John Zaritsky, Sundance sensation Sydney Freeland, veteran stage and screen actress Gabrielle Rose, Sturla Gunnarson, Kyle Thomas, Seattle indie rockers Tennis Pro, the Raging Grannies and veteran Hollywood director, editor and film historian Joel Bender, here for the Canadian premiere of his documenary The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh.
The 22nd annual Victoria Film Festival takes place Feb. 5-14, 2016.