Monday, October 17, 2011

VIFF 2011 Non-film Roundup

Here's some photos from my two weeks in Vancouver for the International Film Festival. Yes, I spent most of my time inside a movie theater or cranking away in a notebook or on a laptop, but here is a nominal record of some other things that made my trip and experience special.

VIFF was primarily housed in four venues, not including the Park which hosted the two 3D films in the line up. (No photo of the Park because I was too anxious about getting into both Pina and Harakiri, one of which was awesome and the other disappointing. Stay tuned if you don't already know the answer to that one.)

The massive 1200 seat Vogue Theater was the place for the premieres and hot tickets of the fest, and it routinely filled up. Built in 1941, the Vogue is a venue for mostly live performance. (Tom Morello, looking old, coming soon.) I sat in the balcony every time I was in the Vogue, and oh, what a balcony it was. For Twin Cities folks, imagine the upper half of the Riverview being a balcony - huge! I heard one projectionist complaining about sore quads from climbing up the steps to the booth.

The more modest Pacific Cinémathèque hidden behind the foliage is also a nice theater that has regular programming similar to the Trylon: great rep series and interesting first run screenings. It has a great feel to it and super duper comfortable seats. I would be at this theater a lot if I lived in Vancouver.

Vancity Theatre is the year around venue for VIFF and it is incredibly beautiful. The seats in the Vancity are like first class airplane seats (not that I've ever traveled first class...but I've seen those seats as I walk by!) At 170 seats, Vancity was probably the smallest venue but also the nicest.
And finally, the Granville 7, also known as VIFF Central Station. This seven screen multiplex was where 90% of the action was, and everyday I was shocked at the organization and planning that went into getting hundreds of people in and out and in and out of this bottleneck. The theater doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's towering lobby with all-glass windows is really nice, especially on those days where I needed to confirm that I wasn't a vampire.

Downtown Vancouver is flush with cheap eats, some better than others. Although I dipped by toe into the many inexpensive sushi places (finding a good one down near Vancity that suited me just right a couple times), my bread and butter was $5 or less. The true object of my Vancouver food obsession was Japadog, with carts around town and a storefront on Robson.

This cart was conveniently located right outside the hotel of the VIFF media office. My favorite was the oroshi: a brat with grated daikon and soy sauce. Yum!

Here's the outside of their storefront on Robson between Richards and Seymour, but if it was too packed it didn't matter. Right next door at Viet Subs you could get an amazing bahn mi (rivaling St Paul's Saigon Cafe sandwiches) that you could easily smuggle into any theater. And on the corner is Gyudon-ya, an inexpensive rice bowl restaurant that does a bustling business. Top any of those off with a cream puff from Beard Papa's (with rotating flavors like mango, caramel, and green tea) and you will be ready to take on a day of movies.

Vancouver has nature! Not that I saw much of it, but here we are at Lynn Canyon Park, the suspension bridge that the locals go to. (Props to the good folks at the media office for this free recommendation!)

I bet you didn't know that one of those exits from Union Street Station puts you in Vancouver. Or at least it did for one morning.

In between films I worked on my behind-the-back dribble here. Steve Nash was able to give me some good pointers.

A poster in the hostel I was staying that had an unwitting VIFF 2011 theme to it. (Cough, cough. Aki Kaurismaki's most recent.) The St. Clair Hostel has done me right for the second year in a row, providing the most amazing free Thanksgiving dinner. Even if I could afford the Sutton with the film fest rock stars, I prefer the humble and mellow ambiance of the St. Clair.

And last but not least, a big shout out to my buddy Erik McClanahan who contributes to the Playlist and works for the NW Film Center in Portland. For the second year in a row, Erik and I have been festival roommates and movie comrades. I love talking to this guy about movies, even if he is over-obsessed with Drive. Above is a drawing by a panhandler made while we stood in line for tickets. The guy earned his 2 bucks.

Up next: the final tally of films, their rankings, my ramblings and link to reviews.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Hey that was a nice little tour of Vancouver! I'm really intrigued with these Japadogs. We need some of those here. 66 movies in two weeks is freaking nuts. But who am I to throw stones, since I read 150 books a year.

Joyce said...

Well, this is ONE way to find out what you've been up to!!