Vancouver Chinese Film Festival – Oriental Originality, Chinese Charm, Fabulous Fest

For the first time ever, we got the special opportunity to go to VCFF events, which was really something else for the crew of Hollywood North Magazine. We’ve had our good fair share of Asian Film Festivals, but the Chinese Film Festival, that was very interesting. First off, shout-outs to Paul Armstrong for inviting us on our first experience, Christine Song for providing us with great interview subjects and help during the events, and of course, to all who worked hard to make VCFF the best experience for our first time experiencing it. (okay, I’ll stop repeating that first time stuff.) Here are a few glimpses of this year’s amazing festival.

Opening Night – VCFF’s Opening Night was like no other we have attended before. The opening night was in Science World featuring the screenings of both a short film and a feature. Before the showcase of the feature, guests got to check out a very interesting type of red carpet which invited special guests to be interviewed by a hostess. Shortly after the interviews on the red carpet, everyone went straight into a rather small theatre at Science World to watch Life Punch, a film by Chinese filmmaker Fan Haolun. Life Punch shows the hardships of some close personal family members, specifically a young fighter named Mina (Jingle Liang) and her father Luohan (Teddy Lin). After she collapses during a training session, the doctors diagnose her with a kidney problem. While her father has the same blood type to help with the operation, he needs to lose weight because a fatty liver won’t be good for what the doctors are going to do. So he works out as much as possible and the operation is a success. However it put him into shock and even worse is the money that was needed for his operation. His brother Quo who runs a cafe borrowed some money from clearly a much bigger corporation and they’re demanding the cash back soon. So Mina despite her physical condition makes it her priority to step back into the ring and win some prize money. It was a beautiful and heartwarming film to watch. Certain bits here and there were confusing to some of us, but other bits were extremely heartwarming and tearjerking. If we’re lucky, some of us may get jobs working on Haolun’s next film, which he plans to shoot in Vancouver. 

Boat Cruise – This was something fresh and new, even for some other people attending. It’s not often a film festival also includes a boat cruise along Vancouver’s shoreline. A fair amount of people both familiar and from China came aboard this vessel. Before we took off on our voyage, there was a quick chance to get settled in as well as photo ops off the starboard bough. Complimentary wine was served along with other delicious foods and to make things even more interesting, the event was hosted by David C Jones, my personal favourite host/MC/announcer guy. He was definitely much louder than his co-host Gloria, who stated all the things he said in Chinese, with a much quieter voice. There was a fair amount of special guests on board, including us who got some photo ops with Christine, David, and even the astounding Paul Armstrong. The dinner was cooked to perfection, from fish to noodles to salads and even some filling cheesecake for dessert. A short simple trip but still plenty of fun with the enthusiasm and social chatter, scenic view with a sunset and full moon, and some lovely live music done by a duet. It may have been hard to walk around during the rough waves, but it was still one of the best things I got to experience.

Celluloid Social Club screens with VCFF – Okay, I know, I know. CSC and VCFF are two separate things. But the Celluloid Social Club got a chance to screen some past VCFF and other Chinese produced content to promote the festival. Besides, Paul Armstrong is in charge of a lot of the things for VCFF, so why not promote it at something else he operates? For the start, there was a Chinese production called The Ride, which was filmed in Shanghai and told a story of a married man as he met an Uber Driver who takes him to the airport. They seem to spark an interesting connection with each other. At first it didn’t seem like much, but then I thought this film was hilarious. I really enjoyed it. Other Chinese content included Search For The Manchus, a hilarious documentary by Evan Luchkow who tries to scope out the long lost Northeast China culture known as Manchu, which is slowly becoming more of a distant memory. Also very humorous itself, but it makes me feel kind of old seeing how certain cultures are dying. What will become of my family’s culture, do we even have any? Finally, among the Chinese/Asian content was a super short film called Too Late, which was the sad story of a girl named Susan as she grows up and moves away, but hopes to see her mother again. Unlike some of the other films both Chinese and non-Chinese, this wasn’t funny but it was sad and very moving. Nice to put in a little of that. While that night had to be rushed due to special Chinese guests getting into a bus at 10:00pm, it was still a nice touch to accommodate the visiting Chinese and honour another great festival. After all, CSC is a great event for networking AND watching short films.

While I didn’t get to attend the screenings or much of anything else, I and my team still enjoyed our experiences going to VCFF events this year. As of tomorrow will be the closing gala, and I’m sure that will be very exciting. I won’t be around for it but I’m sure the other guys will have loads of fun. Thanks for having us, VCFF! We hope to cover more next year.

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