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Vancouver International Film Festival wrapped

The 27th Vancouver International Film Festival, which concluded its 16-day run on October 10, is pleased to announce the films that were top favourites and runners-up in the public voting for VIFF's audience awards. The winners of all awards, audience and juried, were announced prior to the closing gala film; all awards are recapped here.

Festival Director Alan Franey also advised that the number of admissions was 142,425, down slightly from last year. He said, "It was a festival of riches that had us counting our blessings, especially given the distractions of three concurrent election campaigns and a troubled economy. Based on word-of-mouth and audience ballot results, this year's film Festival was chock full of superb films and the pleasures of discovering them. Visiting filmmakers were in attendance at over 200 of the screenings and the focus on the films themselves was much appreciated by all. Perhaps the Festival experience means more than ever when so much time is taken up with economic worries and the 'small screen' experience. A clear majority of the films in this year's festival were very well attended, substantially voted for and averaged between four and five out of five - four being 'very good' and five being 'excellent' - in public voting." Statistics for the 2008 VIFF are recapped below.

AUDIENCE AWARDS

Rogers People's Choice Award for Most Popular Film

Winner: I've Loved You So Long, dir. Philippe Claudel (France)
Runner-up: Cherry Blossoms-Hanami, dir. Doris Dörrie (Germany)

Also in top ten: Throw Down Your Heart, dir. Sascha Paladino (USA); Blue Gold: World Water Wars, dir. Sam Bozzo (USA/Canada); Captain Abu Raed, dir. Amin Matalqa (Jordan); The English Surgeon, dir. Geoffrey Smith (UK), The Wrecking Crew, dir. Denny Tedesco (USA); Waltz with Bashir, dir. Ari Folman (USA/Germany); Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi, dir. Quique Cruz, Marilyn Mulford (USA/Chile); The Song of Sparrows, dir. Majid Majidi (Iran)

documentary Audience Award for Most Popular Documentary Film

Winner: Throw Down Your Heart, dir. Sascha Paladino (USA)
Runner-up: Blue Gold: World Water Wars, dir. Sam Bozzo (USA/Canada)

Also in top ten: Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, dir. Velcrow Ripper (Canada); The English Surgeon, dir. Geoffrey Smith (UK); The Wrecking Crew, dir. Denny Tedesco (USA); Waltz with Bashir, dir. Ari Folman (USA/Germany); Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi, dir. Quique Cruz, Marilyn Mulford (USA/Chile); Addicted to Plastic! The Rise and Demise of a Modern Miracle, dir. Ian Connacher (Canada); Apology of an Economic Hitman, dir. Stelios Koiloglou (Greece); The Betrayal, dir. Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath (USA/Laos)

VIFF Most Popular Canadian Film Award

Winner: Mothers & Daughters, dir. Carl Bessai
Runner-up: Necessities of Life (Ce qu'il faut pour vivre), dir. Benoit Pilon; Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, dir. Velcrow Ripper

Also in top ten: As Slow As Possible, dir. Scott Smith; Borealis, dir. Frank Wolf; Passage, dir. John Walker; The Young Romantic: A Portrait of Yundi Li, dir. Barbara Willis Sweete; When Life Was Good, dir. Terry Miles; The Islands Project, dir. Michael Stadtländer; Control Alt Delete, dir. Cameron Labine

NFB Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award

Winner: Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, dir. Velcrow Ripper
Runners-up: Addicted to Plastic! The Rise and Demise of a Modern Miracle, dir. Ian Connacher; Borealis, dir. Frank Wolf; The Islands Project, dir. Michael Stadtländer; The Young Romantic: A Portrait of Yundi Li, dir. Barbara Willis Sweete; As Slow as Possible, dir. Scott Smith

The winner receives a $2,500 contribution in technical services from the National Film Board's Filmmaker Assistance Program (FAP) toward his next film.

VIFF Environmental Film Audience Award

Winner: Blue Gold: World Water Wars, dir. Sam Bozzo (USA/Canada)
Runner-up: Addicted to Plastic! The Rise and Demise of a Modern Miracle, dir. Ian Connacher (Canada)

JURIED AWARDS

Citytv Western Canada Feature Film Award

The jury for the Canadian Images program awarded the Citytv Western Canada Feature Film Award and its $12,000 cash prize to director Kari Skogland of B.C. for FIFTY DEAD MEN WALKING. Other films in competition included 45 RPM, Control Alt Delete, Crime, Edison & Leo, Mothers & Daughters, Sheltered, Stone of Destiny and When Life Was Good. The jury included actor and singer-songwriter Andrea Menard, writer/composer/performer Will Ryan and film producer Elizabeth Yake. Jury member Will Ryan and Citytv's entertainment reporter for Breakfast Television, Thor Diakow, presented the award.

Dragons & Tigers Award for Young Cinema

The $10,000 Dragons & Tigers Award for Young Cinema, which is sponsored by Brad Birarda, went to Emily Tang for PERFECT LIFE (Hong Kong/China). Presented to the director of a creative and innovative film from East Asia that has not yet won significant international recognition, the award was previously announced on October 2. The jury for the 2008 D&T award was comprised of Ichiyama Shozo, artistic director of the Tokyo FilmEx festival and programmer for Cinema Digital Seoul, who is also a producer for Office Kitano; Ms Elisabeth Lequeret, critic for Cahiers du Cinema and Radio France Internationale and a programmer for the San Francisco International Film Festival; and Thai director Mr Pen-ek Ratanaruang, whose most recent feature is Ploy. They considered eight films in competition.

VIFF Nonfiction Feature Award

The award went to the Mexican documentary BORN WITHOUT directed by the late Eva Norvind. Special Mention was given to Canada's FIERCE LIGHT: WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION directed by Velcrow Ripper. The jury said, "BORN WITHOUT won the Nonfiction Feature Award for challenging our perceptions on being disabled through the life of one extraordinary man propelled by the love of family to live life to the fullest." The jury chose FIERCE LIGHT for special mention "for its power to involve and inspire us with a personal journey that combines spiritual beliefs with relevant social action." Fourteen features were in competition. The jury included Dimitri Eipides, film critic, veteran film programmer and founder/director of the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival; Stan Fox, a director, producer and educator and director of our predecessor Vancouver Film Festival during the 1960s; and Melanie Friesen, producer and presenter of the monthly Cinema Salon at the Vancouver International Film Centre and former VIFF Forum producer. Juror Dimitri Eipides presented the award.

Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film

The Canadian Images jury has awarded $2,000 cash award and a $2,500 Avid Media Composer software package to director Drew McCreadie of Vancouver for the film THE VALET. The competition was open to first time filmmakers. An anonymous donor contributed the cash prize and Avid Technology, Inc. donated the software. Canadian Images programmer Terry McEvoy announced the award.

Women in Film & Television Vancouver Artistic Merit Award

Tantoo Cardinal has won the Artistic Merit Award from Women in Film & Television Vancouver for MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS. WIFTV board member Tracey Schaeffer presented the award, which is given annually to a B.C. woman filmmaker or performer of distinction whose work appears at VIFF.

International Film Guide Inspiration Award

The inaugural International Film Guide Inspiration Award for "unique visual style, daring content and expansive execution by an emerging filmmaker" was awarded to Cameron Labine of B.C. for the film CONTROL ALT DELETE. The award includes the 2008 and 2009 editions of the International Film Guide, a collection of books from various Wallflower Press series and a library of 10 classic DVDs drawn from the Criterion Collection of world cinema masterpieces, with a combined cash value of $2,500. VIFF Canadian Images programmer Terry McEvoy presented the award.


2008 FESTIVAL STATISTICS

For the past decade, the number of films and the size of the audience have ranked VIFF among the top five festivals on the continent.

Attendance: 142,425
Films: 360 (233 features + 29 medium length + 98 shorts)
Screenings: 602 + 36 Media screenings
Countries: 80
Accredited Industry Guests: over 400
World Premieres: 11 (+ 19 shorts)
International Premieres: 27 (+ 6 shorts) North American Premieres: 50 (+ 3 shorts) Canadian Premieres: 41

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