VIFF looks to redefine the festival model

Jacqueline Dupuis (pictured), executive director of the Vancouver International Film Festival, discusses the fest's new "film-plus" strategy.

The Vancouver International Film Festival is changing things up as it prepares to celebrate its 35th anniversary.

The festival has announced a new “film-plus” model that will see programming fall into eight, year-round “multi-experiential” streams. Within each stream the festival will showcase films (of course), but also special events, discussions and workshops.

For VIFF executive director Jacqueline Dupuis, the new model aims to better highlight the programming the festival has always provided.

“We’re more than film: we do more than screenings, talks, exhibitions, parties, workshops [and] awards,” she told Playback Daily. “Within this new model [we're] able to open up more of this programming to the industry and public – we’re pulling back the curtain and saying here’s everything we do.”

The eight streams include Impact, which will focus on programming with a social bent; Next, which is dedicated to VR, gaming and emerging digital storytelling and platforms; and True North, which shines a light on Canadian filmmakers.

In addition to building a more permanent programming structure, Dupuis says these streams will also help the festival prepare for its next 35 years and beyond.

“We wanted to build an infrastructure that is open and flexible to explore the constantly changing world around us in terms of content, innovation and technology. We know that storytelling is constantly evolving, as is the way that we consume content,” she said.

She gives the example of VR. At last year’s festival, VIFF programmed an entire day of talks around the new storytelling platform. Now, with its Next stream, the festival will have a permanent home for that kind of programming.

VIFF will build programming year round into these streams, aiming to give audiences and the industry a clearer sense of where to find specific programming. Dupuis also notes that while the festival is “starting to amp up” its film-plus programming, VIFF has no plans to decrease its film programming.  “Last year we had over 500 screenings of about 365 films. We’ll be about the same size this year,” she said.

The festival has also announced the launch of VIFF Hub, located at the Vancouver International Film Centre. The Hub will be the home for the festival’s interactive experiences, talks and special events.

With the new programming model and Hub launching this year, Dupuis is understandably excited for the future of the west coast fest. “My goal for VIFF is to be able to be flexible and agile, to continue to build relevancy as we go forward, to be able to engage younger and more diverse audiences,” she said. “Really, to be able to respond to the interests of our audiences and to Vancouver as a community. And I think within all of that I’d be remiss [if I didn't say] that we’d be looking to grow our revenues and partnerships alongside this new model.”