Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a day!

Screening Day! Just under a hundred family, friends and crew members wandered down to the Vancity Theatre in downtown Vancouver on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to watch the official private screening of Serum 1831. It was son nice to see everyone that worked so hard on this film come together again, this time to enjoy the fruits of their labour. And some good food. And wine. But no one drank any pellegrino today, which I think is odd. It was the first thing to go at the mini-screening in June. Go figure. Anywho, from the response of the assembled cast and crew, and friends and family, the film will be very well received.

Well, at least by some people. The Vancouver International Film Festival will not be showing Serum 1831. A bunch of people have asked me if I was really surprised. Well, yeah! But everyone I bitched to about this decision told me the same thing. And upon further review, and counseling from friends and family, I have to realize that they are right. My film never stood a chance.

It seems that VIFF is becoming more and more of a thinking man's film festival. Just speaking to some of the people there gives you a strange feeling. Not that strange feeling you get from eating a day old hot dog. But almost an inferiority complex type of feeling. They can't be bothered by "normal" people. This festival is showcase of the world's greatest cinematic arts! Yeah, whatever. The majority of films at this festival lacks any entertainment value. After reading the festival's literature pertaining to the films available to view this year, I have to say that I'm not really interested in seeing any of them. I try to go to at least, and I mean at the VERY LEAST, one film per festival year at VIFF. This year, it will be a chore to find one I really want to see. Art indeed.

Now you may say that that is just a bitter filmmaker whose work has been refused by the festival talking. But I'm not the only one that is grumbling.

I've asked my co-workers, and friends if they were planning on attending this year's film festival. The standard response was "When is it"? It seems that unless you have a stake in this festival, you don't know when it is. And this is a problem for the film community in Vancouver. If people in the industry don't know when their film festival is, but can tell you without hesitation when the Toronto International Film Festival is, that is a big problem. There is no interest in seeing the films at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The organizers need to change something.

And maybe that something is programming some films made by homegrown talent. This festival needs to change it's mandate. It should start promoting local filmmakers, performers and films. It needs to create a buzz within the local film making community. It needs to change it's programming. Something entertaining. Something that will draw in the general public. Now have I got a film for you.

But alas, they have already rejected me. No artsy-fartsy film festival for me. I'm happy to have Serum 1831 screening at the Edmonton International Film Festival in October. And at the Shockerfest screening in Modesto at the end of September. Two film festivals where people go to be entertained. Who knows, having not been selected for the Vancouver International Film Festival may be the best thing that could have happened to my film. It just means it's too entertaining for this festival.

So thanks Vancouver, for not screening my film at your festival. Confirms what I had set out to do in the first place. To make an enjoyable movie.


  1. What a day indeed!!! Totally successful and ever so exciting! Thank you Anand, Anu and everyone connected to Serum 1831. What a great Crew and what awesome talent on every level. Am so proud to have had the opportunity to work with such a compelling group of people. Hugs, Marlies

  2. so release it on torrents and let people decide. if it sucks, people will tell you. if it's great, you'll hear that too, and theaters will run it. remember what happened to "the room"? it sucked, but it sucked in the best possible ways. now it's a cult favorite with regular screenings.
    another thing - if you want people to know about your film, what's with the lack of trailers? why no youtube references? that's just dumb.

  3. Don't sweat rejection from VIFF - I've made 10 shorts (including an NSI Drama Prize and a Kickstart short) and I've never had a film screen at VIFF. They focus on the "artistic" (Ahem!) films over anything remotely commercial because they don't want to compete with Toronto. Hence their decision to support niche films by niche filmmakers for niche audiences. Personally, I think they're lazy but as long as the Fest continues to sell tickets then why should they change their mandate?

    Keep on pushing man. Make the films YOU want to make - You bring honesty and integrity to your art and somewhere, somehow an audience will find it and embrace it.