The 26th annual Vancouver International Film Festival kicks off tomorrow with a gala screening of British world war flick Atonement. Having just come from the Edinburgh International Film Festival, VIFF initially seems like a fairly leisurely and rambling affair. Where Edinburgh's festival is crammed into an intense 10 days, in a city where there are literally hundreds of shows (not just film) going on at the same time, Vancouver's fest stretches over 16 days between 27 September and 12 October and there's little distraction from the menu of over 300 movies.
That said, it seems like each year the calendar of events around VIFF grows, with fall now feeling like a time for the visual media industry in Vancouver to collectively reflect and renew.
The three-day long VIDFEST, a lively forum for digital and new media creatives to discuss the future of the digital world, just ended on Monday. Reflecting the growing cross-over between new and traditional media, VIDFEST took place symbolically in the Vancouver International Film Centre - the deluxe, purpose-built home of VIFF - and this year was scheduled days before the larger film fest.
Before the main course of VIFF, today sees the start of the VIFF Trade Forum (26-28 September), with talks by directors, writers, distributors, commissioning editors, and other professionals from the film and television industry.
This often has many insightful panels and talks about different aspects on the craft and business of filmmaking, particularly for those working in Canadian film and television.
The 22nd VIFF Trade Forum, under director Helen du Toit, has simplified the programme this year by focussing on one area of the industry on each day of the forum.
Today (26th) focuses on documentary, tomorrow (27th) it is film, on Friday (28th) attention turns to television and on Saturday (29th), as in previous years, it is the popular New Filmmakers Day for those starting off in the industry.
Inevitably, some of the themes that were discussed at VIDFEST such as the search for perfect viral marketing models or the opportunities to be had in China, crop up in the Forum programme.
Among guests appearing at the Trade Forum are Ron Yerxa, producer of Little Miss Sunshine, David Arata Children of Men screenwriter, March of the Penguins composer Alex Wurman, and Richard Lewis director of CSI.
Panels include a discussion with commissioning editors such as Rahdi Taylor, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the National Film Board of Canada's Tracey Friesen about successful strategies for developing and financing long form documentaries.
Regent Entertainment's Jeff Schenk and FOX 21tv's Brett Weitz will look at how Canadian companies are leveraging tax credits and production expertise when co-venturing on television projects with U.S. companies.
With the Canadian dollar recently rising to parity with the U.S. dollar, clearly some of the benefits of the previously weaker Canadian currency that "Hollywood North" enjoyed over its Southern neighbour in the past have evaporated. It will be interesting to hear how panelists see this affecting Vancouver's thriving production industry.
The event also includes formal - pitch sessions and private meetings - and informal opportunities for filmmakers to meet with producers, distributors, sales agents, and commissioning editors.
Tickets can be bought at the event venue, the Vancouver International Film Centre. For more information about the programme go here.
More coverage of the Vancouver International Film Festival.