Thank you for showing your love of cinema with your amazing support in 2020. Last month you helped to raise over $14,000. Your belief in VIFF played a huge part in our successes last year and will help us continue to share the cinema that matters in 2021.
A message from Lucille Pacey, VIFF Board of Directors – Chair
There are only a few more days to have your gift matched by Terry Whitehead, and to double its positive impact on the futures of youths who are passionate about film and want to learn more. Supporters like yourself have raised over $7,500 this month; will you help us reach our final $10,000 goal?
As we bid farewell to 2020, let’s take a moment to appreciate how important movies have been in keeping us entertained and connected throughout the year. It’s been a year of challenges, change, and resilience for everyone. 2020 has also, for VIFF, been a journey of innovation, connection, and renewal. As Chair of the VIFF Board of Directors, I watched with anticipation as plans for the renovated VIFF Centre unfolded during the pandemic. Needless to say, the renovations have been a challenge, but fortunately we’ve been able to approach that challenge as an opportunity, and to reimagine the future as we head into our 40th year.
We had long planned to renovate the VIFF Centre, and I watched with pride as the space was transformed into one that will increase screenings and offer a multifaceted hub of creativity and education for the community.
As a longtime advocate and practitioner of arts-based education, I’m heartened by the addition of the Studio Theatre and the Education Suite, both of which will facilitate meaningful experiences for learners from across the lower Mainland.
Please join Terry and I in supporting this capital project, which will sustain long-term resources for our arts sector. Gifts will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000 for all contributions received before midnight on New Year's Eve, and donations of $25 and above are fully tax-deductible.
Wishing you and your family health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year.
A message from Emily Weldon, Festival Co-Director – Vancouver Short Film Festival
Let me tell you how VIFF changed my life.
I attended high school with a keen interest in the fine arts, and was fortunate to be able to take courses in writing, film studies, and film production for over four years. In film class, we spent lots of time analyzing auteurs and film movements from decades past, but living in the suburbs I had little exposure to cinema beyond mainstream television or big-budget blockbusters, and it was not easy to connect my film education to the current state of cinema–to see the relevance of my studies in the world today.
Attending VIFF through the High School program completely changed that. VIFF brought my years of film study directly into the present moment, showcasing the best of contemporary world cinema, Canadian features that would quickly become classics of the decade, and professional short films that illuminated and revitalized the way I took to my own filmmaking practice.
While I focused heavily on film production in school and spent countless hours writing, shooting, and directing my own short films, there were few ways for my instructors to screen professional shorts for us to model after and be inspired by. Attending my first short film block as part of the VIFF High School program opened my mind to the short as an artistic form in its own right.
All these experiences led me to gravitate toward volunteering and working for multiple film festivals and film-community non-profits in Vancouver, both throughout my university years and in the present day. I come to these pursuits rooted in my own genuine and longstanding drive to give back to these organizations and to the larger film community, knowing how lucky I am to participate in creating the same experiences that opened up my creative and cultural worldview all those years ago.
As the Festival Co-Director of the Vancouver Short Film Festival, I am humbled each year by the many powerful films we have the chance to share on our screens; with every one of them, we offer a chance to awaken audiences to the profound and connective nature of home-grown cinema.
I remain grateful for the opportunities I had to participate in VIFF, and would recommend the VIFF high school program to all secondary schools in the Vancouver area looking to open up new avenues of cultural interest and creative purpose for their students.
While filmmaking as a pursuit can look very different from year to year–especially in the midst of our current global pandemic– it will always be essential. Please consider making a gift today. With your help VIFF can continue to change the lives of high school students and empower the next generation of creators.
A message from Sam Mohseni, Director: Poplife and MFA Film Student at UBC
After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from UBC in May 2019, I felt lost. I had made three short films which focused on immigration issues, and I knew film was what I wanted to pursue professionally. But I didn’t know how to enter the industry and build my career as a writer-director. I needed direction.
Everything changed when I came across a call for applications to VIFF’s Mentorship Program; I knew that being a part of it would help me build my career. VIFF encourages filmmakers who may be under-represented in the film industry to apply, and as a young Iranian director I felt welcomed and validated.
Participating in the program helped me to progress as a filmmaker, and to find friends and collaborators that are important to me to this day. Having access to a festival pass allowed me to watch as many films as I wanted to. I watched a lot of great Canadian films that I otherwise could not have; they gave me a new appreciation for our national cinema and its diversity of stories.
The workshops I had with filmmakers, producers, festival programmers, and distributors were all valuable experiences for me. Not only did I learn more about the ways I could approach my projects artistically and financially, but I also gained the confidence to tell the stories that only I know--stories that reflect my experience as an Iranian immigrant. Another great outcome of those workshops was my finding a distributor for a short film I had completed in my final year of undergraduate studies at UBC. This distributor helped my film get into festivals and reach audiences.
Lastly, being able to attend Creator Talks, exclusive festival parties, and other gatherings helped me improve my networking skills, as I had the opportunity to practice putting myself out there and pitching my projects. Networking and pitching are a difficult, and often nerve-wracking, part of filmmaking, but my mentorship experience helped me improve, and gain confidence in, my skills. I also made new contacts and found new collaborators, both from Vancouver and from around the world.
At the end of the program, I had a sense of purpose, as well as more confidence in the process of developing and producing my projects, and the network I had established has since provided me with many creative opportunities and professional relationships. Looking back, it almost feels surreal that I got to be a part of it all.
I want to stress something: this program is important for emerging filmmakers because it provides opportunities and experiences that are often very, very difficult to get on one’s own. It’s important for audiences to support this program philanthropically because it lays the groundwork for emerging filmmakers with fresh and exciting ideas to take themselves, their projects, and ultimately Canadian cinema to the next level.
Please consider making a gift today. All gifts will be matched up to $10,000, and donations of $25 or above are fully tax deductible. With your help VIFF can continue supporting emerging filmmakers and sharing our stories.
A message from Curtis Woloschuck, VIFF Associate Director of Programming
While 2020 has been the most challenging year in our organization’s history, it’s also proven that VIFF can not only adapt to adversity but evolve and thrive in the face of it. We now find ourselves considering the range of exciting possibilities available to us and wondering aloud, “What if...?”
Now in its third year, our Catalyst mentorship program once again allowed 15 filmmakers from under-represented groups to benefit from both exclusive group sessions and one-on-one mentorships. Through video conferencing, we were able to connect these emerging Vancouver talents with established BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, and female filmmakers who offered them insights into how best to bring their lived experiences to the screen.
In its short history, Catalyst has established itself as a critical incubator for Vancouver storytellers, with past cohort members now racking up festival laurels and producing ambitious new projects--and all this has been accomplished with the program taking place over just a handful of days during our fall festival. This raises the question:
What if Catalyst mentorship programming was available year-round? What if monthly sessions allowed dozens of filmmakers to see their creative development dramatically accelerated every year? What if residencies allowed those diverse filmmakers the time and focus required to craft the stories only they are capable of telling? What if we could play a bigger role in elevating Vancouver’s storytellers to the world stage? What if we could foster confidence and creativity in this time of uncertainty?
Every young filmmaker can recall a formative experience that left them exhilarated by cinema’s possibilities. And so, we ask: What if we made VIFF’s film programming available to any high school in the province? What if those screenings were accompanied by resource guides that creatively tied the film content to the curriculum? What if we facilitated online Q&As between students and filmmakers or subject matter experts? What if we could leave students more inquisitive about other cultures and eager to learn more?
All of this is possible with our VIFF Connect streaming platform. And while I'm not naïve enough to think that every virtual classroom screening will produce dozens of aspiring directors, I’m confident that each one will leave its teenage audience more engaged, empathetic, and inspired. Those are qualities that will be essential as we continue to navigate the unknown.
At VIFF, we’re not wringing our hands and worrying about what’s coming next. Instead, we’re doing everything in our power to support those who are coming next, whether they’re behind the camera or gazing at the screen in rapt attention. If you want to be part of the answer when it comes to our future filmmakers and audiences, please consider making a tax-deductible gift before the end of the year.