By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The 2016 Victoria Film Festival Valentine’s Day Closing Festivities was bittersweet. I enjoyed the treats offered on the last three days of this show and will have to wait for next year to taste what will be new in the world of independent cinema. From getting early previews of The Smalls: Forever is a Long Time, The Girl in the Photographs, Sergio Herman and Foodies, so I wouldn’t be faced with running around to see other films in conflicting times or in alternating theaters, I managed to add two more movies Project Itoh’s The Empire of Corpses (屍者の帝国, Shisha no Teikoku) and Our Last Tango (Un Tango Más) on top. I could have seen a film on Friday, but a certain mainstream movie was heavy on my list of must see during opening weekend.
The End of Festival Bash wrap up party at Lucky Bar was well attended. Although the space was tight and it was meant as a thank you event to all the volunteers, staff and guests who were in attendance, I did have to find out which films won audience favourites and the like. The big question everyone asks is what were your favourites from this year?
When considering I managed 15 films this year (my average is usually 10), to decide on what I truly loved is a tough call. It’s easier to say what films fell below my expectations, namely Empire of Corpses .While it was visually gorgeous, the story felt like Full Metal Alchemist meets Resident Evil with a dose of Final Fantasy world-building mixed in. I will expound more on this film later in a separate article.
I managed to see The Lobster outside the festival, and sadly this science fiction product had me falling asleep. It uses the folksy British tradition to tell the tale of how people must court love in 45 days otherwise they would be transformed into animals. The suggestion the transmogrification is surgical instead of magical is eerie and I have to ask if anything of the human soul remains afterwards? I may give this film another try.
If I had to pick one film, I have to say I was truly enamoured with The Devil’s Horn. I get more out of a product when the subject hooks me through folklore or mythology. This documentary looked at the history of the saxophone in context of why some types of music (Jazz in this case) is regarded as evil. I got a wonderful history lesson from this work alone!
I can say The Grand Song is a truly generational story that people of all ages can enjoy. Not only did it give me a look at what life back in early 20th century China was like before the country villages were modernized but also it’s a tale of unrequited love — appropriate when considering the day the festival ended. I’m glad to report that it won the Victoria Film Festival’s Cultural Currents Award. Other awards include:
Cineplex Entertainment Audience Favourite: Tanna
Best Canadian Feature: The Devout
Best Feature Film: The Brand New Testament
Best Short Animation: Mia
Canadian Feature: The Devout
Metropol Audience Favourite Short: No Breath Play