Some of the best opening scenes are in James Bond thrillers, so it’s fitting that the Vic Theatre’s official re-launch as the home for Victoria Film Festival programming features the 1965 James Bond classic, Thunderball on Saturday night.
The theatre has been open since VFF took over in 2011, but screenings were on select dates. With the relaunch, the theatre will have a screening every night and will continue to be available for rentals. VFF director Kathy Kay said there is increasing demand in Victoria for indie films, which prompted the change.
“We normally screen films during the film festival and we are finding that we are doing more throughout the year,” she said, adding films about the environment, Buddhism and cycling are popular among Victoria’s indie film goers. “We felt it would be good to encourage that (demand), and that’s when it started to make sense to show these films daily.”
The majority of the films screened in the past have been independent, including foreign movies and documentaries, which will continue. Hollywood-type films will also be screened, but it will be rare and on special occasions, which has been the case since VFF took over the theatre.
“There are enough places screening mainstream, Hollywood stuff,” Kay said. “There is a need for a place to screen something different.”
Upcoming films include Blackfish, a documentary about former Oak Bay resident Tilikum, an orca whale responsible for three deaths; The Act of Killing and Computer Chess, as well as the International Buddhist Film Festival.
The lobby has been redone and a new logo has been developed. Most of the films screened will be unique and so will the offerings at the concession stand. Non-mainstream brands of soft drinks and snacks will be offered, with a focus toward offering locally made products. Even popcorn, which is synonymous with movies, will have different toppings that are “not chemical-based.”
“People who like independent cinema are not always into the Cokes and Pepsis,” Kay explained. “They want something different to eat and drink.”
An application for a permanent liquor license is also in the works.
Also upcoming, is a $50,000 fundraising campaign for a new film projector, which will launch this weekend too.
“What we have currently is a 35mm and we’re no longer getting many productions on 35mm,” Kay explained. “The system has changed, so it’s a problem.”
Movie theatres are now screening films through a Digital Cinema Package, which is a collection of encrypted digital files distributed through hard drive, download and satellite. A DCP projector is required to screen such films.
For $1,000, benefactors can put a name on one of the 214 seats in the theatre.
“If we get 50 of these, we’ll be able to go ahead,” Kay added.
The Vic Theatre will start screening one film each night starting Saturday, with hopes that a second evening screening will be offered once demand picks up. Tickets are $10 plus tax and films that are not rated by Consumer Protection B.C. will require the purchase of a $2 annual membership. Only members of a film society, who are age 18 and older, can view non-classified films in a public setting.