If you are a budding filmmaker that has put in countless hours of pre-production, auditioning, filming, post production and now have the film in the can, then listen up. The 5th annual GPIFF (Golden Panda International Film Festival) is coming to town from Dec. 4 – Dec. 10. You will not want to miss this unprecedented event. I had the tremendous opportunity to be invited to the press conference last week where I was enlightened and informed of the upcoming event. I was extremely impressed with the speakers and announcements that outline a one of a kind experience for filmmakers and attendees.
The press conference was held at the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel and it did not disappoint. The very pleasant Xueting Zhao had extended an invitation to Hollywood North Magazine. She is the publicist and communications manager for GPIFF and has been involved in TIFF for a number of years before joining the team at GPIFF. She has a background in journalism and a fondness for Indy film. Xueting was very generous with her time and she sat down with me to discuss the upcoming event.
“Why did the festival choose Vancouver as its location?”
“The organizers for GPIFF live in Vancouver and are Chinese Canadians. The location also acts as the midway between most film markets and China. In addition, the film industry in Vancouver is very vibrant.”
Since coming on board, Xueting is amazed at the growth of GPIFF. Every year it gets bigger and better as well as bringing more exposure to different groups and audiences. This is their first year to accept feature film submissions. They continue to raise the bar with guest speakers, forums and networking opportunities. This year they are welcoming representatives from Telefilm, Creative BC, DOC BC, DGC BC and executives from leading Chinese film studios and the cultural investment group Poly Culture, the flagship unit of Alibaba Group’s entertainment arm Alibaba Pictures and others.
“Can you tell me who some of the guest speakers are that will be attending this year?”
“Last year we were excited to have Sid Ganis, past president of the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences. He’s also a very established film producer who is credited for finding the Forrest Gump script and getting it developed. He’s also produced Big Daddy, Deuce Bigalow and Mr. Deeds. Ivor Benjamin was also a recent guest speaker. He is the president of the Directors Guild of Great Britain. This year we have the vice president and general manager of China Film Co. They are the largest film distributor in China. China has the second largest film industry in the world. We have guest speakers representing the film industry in BC, established documentary producers and directors, Hollywood actors, writers and producers. Japanese writer and cinematographer, Kôsuke Mukai, creator of the acclaimed Japanese TV series, Shinya Shokudô will also be attending. He is a young and very talented writer. In addition, there will also be other industry professionals speaking to the audience. They will be covering topics regarding distribution, screenplay development, production and post production.”
They will also have visual effects veteran, Dennis Hoffman as a guest speaker. He has worked on Pirates of the Caribbean, Paddington, Harry Potter and other successful productions. This event promises to be filled with opportunities for film lovers and filmmakers looking for new opportunities and to build new relationships with the film industry. This year they are also launching their first project pitch event on Dec. 9. There will be a forum in the morning followed by presentations and discussions. In the afternoon the project pitch event will take place where the lucky filmmakers will be selected to propose their story ideas to a judging panel and a live audience.
Xueting tells me the event takes the better part of an entire year to prepare. Because the GPIFF continues to grow every year, it demands much effort to orchestrate and bring to fruition. While at the press conference I was also fortunate enough to speak with Matthew Tang. He is the Executive Director of the GPIFF committee and has been involved with the festival since last year. He was involved in a similar industry prior to coming aboard.
“How many countries are involved in this years submissions and when do you start receiving them?”
“There are 88 countries participating this year and we start accepting submissions in March till September. The majority of the submissions have come from Canada, the US and China.”
“What is the most important reason for holding this event?”
“We hope to find new emerging artists and filmmakers. Our second mission is to foster collaborations between different countries of the world. We also want to forge a more business oriented film festival. Making it a marketplace where we can facilitate business in the industry.”
With over 1100 submissions, there will be 14 different award categories available to recognize excellence Animation, Screenplays, Visual Effects, Rising Star, Best Documentary as well as others. The festival is predicted to attract over 2000 attendees. The spectator numbers continue to increase every year and the venues hosting the screenings. One of the only restrictions they have; the film must be produced within the last 2 years. All genres are accepted and the screenings will be held at Vancity Theatre from Dec. 4-7.
In addition to the screenings, there are ten feature events presented at this year’s GPIFF. Industry Forum, Industry Exhibition, Masters Workshop, Project Pitch Event, Red Carpet and of course the Industry Party are just a fraction of what you can expect when attending this must-see film festival. The 5TH GPIFF Awards Ceremony will be held on Dec. 10 at the Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
The GPIFF welcomes all film fans to attend this event for networking opportunities and find potential collaborators for future projects, as well as contributing to an industry with potential to expand your commitment to continued filmmaking with filmmakers abroad.
Attend the GPIFF and thank me later for suggesting it.