Sunday, November 14, 2010

Media myths about WIFF's sixth edition

Peter Coady (left) would like to set a few things straight. Yes, the attendance was up at this year’s Windsor Intl Film Festival (WIFF). But there was no – repeat no - rift with the casino.....And, yes, maybe there is room for more screenings and comfortable seats at the good ol’ Capitol Theatre for future fests.....Coady said some 5900 people attended the four-day event “an improvement over last year” though he didn’t have a percentage. That included 600 high schoolers attending a special screening and live interactive broadcast with Colm Feore, formerly of  Windsor. They also loved watching a special screening of last year’s The Trotsky (Jason Tierney) – in which Feore starred -  a great film for high school kids planning a revolution during their spare periods.....Media coverage of this year’s WIFF got off to kind of a bad start (do ya’ think so?!), what with the reported split between long time programmer Otto Buj and the festival, and the fact WIFF was no longer holding the gala opening at Caesars.....I didn’t get into the Buj-festival split with Coady because that would have meant interviewing Buj and I didn’t have the time. Perhaps in the future.....Meanwhile, Coady said there was no bad blood with Caesars. But it was solely WIFF that ended the tie.  “It was s big step for our board to take to move from the casino,” he said. “And basically we were being honest with the casino. The casino wanted more screenings...and for us it’s technically difficult. I mean moving a 35 millimetre projector after our opening night back to the Capitol for our regular programming, our guys were up to three in the morning, and then you start the festival with guys who are already bagged.” He didn’t think a film fest “belongs in a casino.” That’s despite Caesars making a “good offer of support” including use of the 5,000-seat Colosseum.....Media reports also suggested it was a bad move that WIFF was scheduled the same weekend as BookFest Windsor. But, according to Coady, it didn’t matter. “The big fact is they had great crowds, we had great crowds.” BookFest was held at the Art Gallery of Windsor, a few blocks away. So why did the fest move up a week? Simple, he says. Remembrance Day fell on the second Thursday – usually WIFF’s opening night. “And that’s why we felt we couldn’t have an opening – a big gala – on Remembrance Day.” Makes sense. And which suggests the media should loosen up. It’s only a frickin’ film fest  not Armageddon and this is Windsor where we’re even lucky to have a festival.....WIFF sold out five of the six screenings of the three locally-made films in the smaller Joy theatre with 125 seats though chairs were added. It also sold out It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck) Saturday night......But, yes, there are still a few bugs that need to be worked out in this, WIFF’s, sixth edition. (Actually it seems that once one problem is nailed down a new one springs up.). The audio vastly improved in the large Pentatsar theatre (one of the Capitol’s three rooms) thanks in part to a new screen purchased from the Detroit Film theatre (DFT) which has a brand new screen of its own. (WIFF has a relationship with the DFT and also screened films there.).....But there were problems at the Kelly theatre. Watching Stephen Frears’s Tamara Drewe was like watching a foreign movie sans sous-titres. Coady acknowledged it was a problem – “that may have been attributable to some electrical problems up in the booth” - but I also blame the various English dialects in this film now playing at Landmark Detroit’s Main. As much as Windsorites love the Capitol (the latest news is that the years-long impasse was broken with the building’s receiver, and the City of Windsor has gained control of the venerable building) there are problems. Despite a mid-Nineties restoration these are the original seats, and they’re not comfortable. Less so when temporary banquet seats had to be brought in at the Joy theatre, where the locally-made  and some other films were screened. “I can’t deny that,” Coady said. He even agreed the more modern Palace complex – just over a block away – would have been a more comfortable alternative but says it looks like the Capitol will be WIFF’s permanent home....As well, the whole issue of the box office moved to the cold confines of University Ave. will have to be addressed. The box office used to be in the warm comfort of the Capitol lobby. This year people in line had to freeze their buns waiting to buy tickets from a box office that didn’t even offer credit card sales, only cash purchases, though many tickets were sold thu WIFF's web site.

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