I have a confession to make…I’ve never been to a film festival. I know, I know, I feel shame. It’s not that I don’t have a desire or the will to make it happen, I just don’t have an excuse. And the really crappy thing is, where I live has a pretty well organized and highly regarded one. Victoria Film Festival is celebrating its 19th year in just a few weeks, kicking off on February 1st and held over until the 10th. The organization is pretty active all year round but this is their big “to do”. So what’s a movie-lover like myself to do when he knows he might not once again partake in fun? He interviews the guy having all of that fun.
I had the opportunity to interview Victoria Film Festival Programmer Donovan Aikman, asking him a couple of questions about the festival and good movies.
1) How do movies get chosen to be a part of the Victoria FilmFest?
“We have two main ways we do this. First, we have a call for entries for those who’d like to submit to us that runs from April to October every year. Those works are sent to a jury and recommendations for selection are forwarded back to me and I do my best to make them work logically with our schedule. Second, we do our own scouting for other great content that’s available. We watch other festivals up close and from afar to see what they’re programming. Plus, we get more recommendations from our network of jurors and associates that get passed on to me. And, again, I do my best to make take all this info on other great films and try to make it work logically with our schedule.”
2) What do you think are common characteristics of a good movie?
“That’s a hard thing to pin down as it’s very subjective. I don’t think two people can ever agree on what makes a movie good. The eye of the observer is always a key factor by definition. Also, different movies are always trying to accomplish different things so it’s hard to judge any two things on the same standard too. But if you asked just me, I’d say that any film that’s a labour of love has a potential audience of people who are going to love it too. It’s just that the better you can say it, the bigger an audience it can resonate to. I think of my job as trying to find those films that aren’t being heard as they really should be.”
3) What would you say to convince someone who has never been to a film fest to try out the event?
“I have a standard line for this and it’s: “Well, whaddaya like?”
Once they tell me, it’s just a matter of pointing them toward their filmic bliss. Then their own curiosities and desires take over from there. Even if they say they don’t know, I just point them in a direction I think they’ll like and eventually they begin to figure it out for themselves and maybe with other people’s help too. The nice thing about festivals is if you see something you like, there’s more! If you didn’t like what you just saw, talk to other people and try something else!”
4) What’s the last good movie you saw?
“I like so many movies for so many different reasons that this is always an unfair question. Also, I’ve been focussed on festival programming for the past few months so it would also be everything in the program guide because that’s why it’s in there. However, right now, if you wanted what is strictly a non-festival film that had the momentary luxury of being of being the last of many good movies I’ve seen, it would be either MEN IN BLACK 3 for narrative or DETROPIA for documentary.
Thanks again to Donovan for answering our questions and Communications and Marketing Coordinator Meg Sugrue for making it all happen. Much appreciated.
Have you ever done the film fest thing? How was it for you?