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Victoria Film Festival: Screenings held in the most unlikely places

Victoria City Hall is not a place you’d expect to see a movie. Paying parking tickets or attending a city council meeting is more like it.
Lynette Lai, left, Jacinthe Lauzier and Chris Perrin watch a short film in the clock tower at Victoria City Hall during the ConVerge, part of the Victoria Film Festival, on Saturday. The film fest wraps up on Sunday.

Victoria City Hall is not a place you’d expect to see a movie. Paying parking tickets or attending a city council meeting is more like it.

The municipal government’s attic and clock tower became a popular pop-up movie theatre during ConVerge on Saturday, however.

“This is really cool,” said Lynette Lai, 24, after watching To Heaven, an animated short, as part of the Victoria Film Festival’s offbeat screening event.

“It’s great because it’s bringing people to different parts of town we don’t usually go, and to local businesses, as well.”

Lai was one of hundreds who turned out to see some of the 50 short films shown in 20 venues.

> More film festival coverage, including reviews

Chris Perrin and Jacinthe Lauzier said the antiquated clock tower itself was as fascinating as the films.

“It was interesting, and nice to hear the clock going next to us,” Lauzier said. “You could hear the tick-tock, and you also had a great view of Victoria.”

Other filmgoers were shepherded into a room where #99, an Italian film, was beamed onto a wall of wooden slats.

There was no shortage of ConVerge colour to offset the drizzly weather: A white stretch limousine transported viewers from Centennial Square to Bay Street and back while fans watched shorts. In Trounce Alley, running shoes dangling from a high-wire reflected the theme of Croatian film Shoe Knows? and a jewel thief in a trench coat lurked to promote a jewel-heist film.

When Matthew Payne found himself in the doghouse, a Centennial Square venue, at one point, it was all in a day’s work for the Theatre SKAM artistic producer.

As ConVerge’s organizer, his duties included ensuring video artist Brian MacDonald’s tablet was safely enclosed within an aquarium at the Bay Centre fountain, where four headphone-wearing viewers watched a film simultaneously.

“I’m used to site-specific work, and being outdoors in inclement weather,” said Payne, whose partner, Pamela Bethel, was the event’s co-producer. “The learning curve for me was transferring media files.”

Some passersby weren’t sure what to make of some of ConVerge’s unusual characters, including Laura Macaulay, a movie-wielding “lumbersexual.”

“Some people acted a little bit like I was going to axe them,” she said with a laugh.

“I’ve been greeting people on the street, asking them to watch this little pocket movie,” she said, pulling out a digital device strapped to an axe handle.

Despite some initial trepidation, B Woodward, owner of Cherry Bomb Toys, said he was happy to have a venue — a two-door locker — outside his Broad Street store.

“When you come down in the morning and find a locker that is shut outside your door, you’re a little leery,” he said. “Hmmm, what’s in here?”

Woodward said Victoria is “an artists’ capital, full of creators,” and it makes sense to have such showcases downtown.

“I think it’s great because it brings more people downtown,” he said. “We need to have more involvement at the business level.”