VIFF losing key Granville 7 cinema venue

The festival's director, Alan Franey (pictured), says VIFF will need to reinvent itself in wake of news the festival's central hub will close Nov. 4.

The Vancouver International Film Festival was dealt a significant blow this week, after it was revealed that the Granville 7 cinema in Vancouver’s downtown core will close its doors this November.

“We will lose a central hub for the festival – seven screens under one roof. There are no other facilities that will provide that for us, and that means we’ll need to reinvent,” VIFF festival director Alan Franey tells Playback.

“I’m confident there will be ways of rearranging things, but it is a loss to lose the Granville 7,” he adds.

The cinema, which has served as one the festival’s key venues for the past 11 years, was vital to the VIFF because of its convenient location for both local and international festival-goers.

Equally important, says Franey, was its high standard of presentation – a quality that a lot of other local venues currently lack.

“We could do screenings in all sorts of places, but people need to realize that there is a difference between a purpose-built movie theatre and other kinds of venues,” he explains.

The Granville 7, which is owned by Nova Scotia-based Empire Theatres, also partnered with the festival over the past 11 years, working with it to help keep festival costs low.

The cinema is only Vancouver’s latest indie house to close its doors in recent years.

The Caprice, The Paradise and the Capitol 6, which were previous VIFF locations and a part of downtown Vancouver’s “theatre row,” have all gone out of business.

Confidence in new venues

Despite the closures, Franey says he is confident that VIFF will find new venues and ways to restructure itself for next year.

He points to the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, an 1,800-seat theatre which the festival has invested heavily in to make it cinema-ready for this year’s closing gala Friday, as well as smaller independent venues, such as the Rio, the Playhouse and SFU Woodward’s as possible options for the festival.

“There are a number of venues that haven’t been used for cinema that we could consider using, but again, it’s a question of cost – whether it’s manageable and whether we can get the high standards we need,” he says.

Franey has also been in talks with Cineplex Odeon, adding “We’ve used the Cineplex Odeon International Village in the past, when it was Cinemark Tinseltown.” He says while discussions are ongoing he was optimistic a concrete agreement to use it may be reached.

He adds that making consumers aware of the consequences of their decisions is also important for ensuring the festival’s longevity.

“If we value movie theatres, book stores and music stores perhaps, we should buy movie tickets, books and CDs and not expect everything for free online,” he says.

VIFF’s closing gala presentation tonight is Holy Motors, a France-made drama byLeos Carax.

The Granville 7 cinema will then host the South Asian Film Festival before it is shuttered for good Nov. 4.