Alternative cinema returns to Victoria

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On Oct. 4, the Victoria Film Festival (VFF) celebrated the reopening of The Vic Theatre at 808 Douglas Street, as a fully operational theatre, with a night of “Cocktails & Nosh” followed by the screening of a secret film.

The Vic Theatre originally opened in 1974 but after a long history shut its doors in 2008. In 2011 the VFF reopened the theatre when they took it over and used it as a venue for their annual film festival. The VFF continued to use the theatre sporadically throughout the years, not only as a venue for their festival, but as a form of fundraising with events such as a quote-along showing of, The Big Lebowski. Now VFF plans to run the theatre in a more traditional sense, holding screenings seven days a week.

Guests at the reopening were treated to catering by 10 Acres Bistro, Bar & Farm and a view of the newly renovated lobby, which was completed with black wallpaper dotted by the face of Victoria’s namesake, Queen Victoria herself. The lobby also features a new concession stand, which will provide snacks and drinks that are intended to be a step up from what the standard movie theatres sell. The renovations of the theatre may be complete; however, the VFF requires one more thing, a digital projection system to keep up with industry standards. The digital projection system will cost $50 000 of which $20 000 has already been donated by the B.C. government. The event was also marked with the private viewing of a mystery film which VFF  had teased as, “a coming-soon, unreleased, private-collection, or exceedingly rare film.” As the guests sat in the newly renovated theatre they were treated to the film Good Ol’ Freda, a documentary that tells the story of Freda Kelly, a young Liverpool native who at 17 years old was picked to be the secretary for a new band called The Beatles. The entertaining film featured the affable Kelly talking about her experiences with many photos and film clips to accompany her story. Of particular interest is the insight she provides into the lives of the Beatles’ parents whom she became quite close with. Good Ol’ Freda is not just for Beatles’ fans, but a fascinating insight of a band’s rise from obscurity to the fandom and success they are known for today. The public opening of the theatre was marked Oct. 5 by the showing of the James Bond film Thunderball for the 51st anniversary of the very first James Bond film, Dr. No.

The VFF will continue its tradition of showing an eclectic mix of programming, despite renovations and taking on the schedule of a more traditional theatre. In October alone, there has been an International Buddhist Film Festival (Oct. 8–12), and there will yet be a Little Shop of Horrors sing-along (Oct. 31) and showings of the film featured at the reopening, Good Ol’ Freda (Oct. 25–30). All films start at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $10.50 unless otherwise posted. Although, there will be an additional one-time membership fee of $2 for movies that are unclassified, and some events will be restricted to guests aged 19 years or older.

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