Sunday, October 04, 2009

CIFF 2009, Venues

The festival is over and my slow return to normality can begin. Unlike previous years, I was unable to maintain a daily log of films that I saw but I still plan to do a recap soon. In the meantime, I wanted to talk about the venues, something I have not done before.

When CIFF first started 10 years ago, it was based around the city's three art-house theaters -- Globe Cinema, The Plaza & The Uptown. In the last few years, CIFF expanded to include more locations (at one point as many as 6 venues including Eau Claire Cineplex cinemas) but this year it was back to basics and only three locations -- the Uptown dropped out leaving Eau Claire to take its place.

1) Eau Claire Cinemas -- Previously, CIFF only used a solitary screen (the IMAX). This year the festival used two regular screens and that was quite convenient as both halls were almost across from each other. The Cineplex at Eau Claire is not your average multiplex. Each week, one can find an independent/foreign film playing alongside the newest Hollywood flick. If most multiplexes around the country were programmed like the Eau Claire, I would have fewer complaints.

2) The Globe -- The two cinemas at this venue have been showing great indie/foreign films for years. And the manager, Dan Silver, is quite supportive of local film festivals as he was very helpful when we booked the theater for our Pan-Asian film festival a few years ago.

3) The Plaza -- The best programmed cinema in the city and probably one of the top cinemas in this country!! On each night, one can find multiple movies playing in the single hall. And those movies range the entire cinematic spectrum -- old silent & foreign classics, new indie/world cinema, hollywood, midnight/cult and genre films. The Calgary Cinematheque uses the Plaza as its regular spot and virtually every film festival in the city shows all their movies here. One can even find the odd Ethiopian or Tamil movie playing here. And until a few years ago, the Plaza used to regularly show Bollywood movies. In fact, the first movie that I saw in the Plaza was a Bollywood film almost 12 years ago. And I also saw my first ever foreign film (the Japanese film Shall we Dance) at this same theater.

And the Plaza's location is great too. The Plaza is surrounded by a wine bar and a bookshop on either end. Plus there are plenty of good restaurants, cafes and pubs within walking distance. So there is enough opportunity to be properly nourished in between movies.

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