Less than two months before the start of the 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival, its governing body—the Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society—has announced a new leader and executive director. Jacqueline Dupuis, who joined the organization in 2012, succeeds Alan Franey, who has served as CEO and festival director for 26 years.
“Alan and I have been working together over the past few years to transition the executive authority of the organization over to me, so it’s an exciting time for both myself and the organization,” Dupuis told the Georgia Straight in a recent phone interview.
In addition to the two-week film festival, the Society oversees the year-round programming and rental facilities at the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre (1181 Seymour Street).
In the fall, Dupuis and her team also organize a film and television forum directed at people who work in the industry.
“It’s great to be working with an organization that’s certainly very financially stable and has a lot of existing support,” she said.
Prior to working with VIFF, Dupuis was the executive director of the Calgary International Film Festival for three years. “Calgary was only 11 years old when I left, and we’re 33 years into it at VIFF, so it’s about taking something to the next level than stabilizing it.”
Before entering the arts, Dupuis spent a decade in business development and management in the technology sector.
While Franey will remain on board with VIFF as the director of programming, Dupuis will focus on managing the Society’s operations.
The first major change under Dupuis’ direction is the rebranding of its film and TV forum to VIFF Industry. The name change to the four-day conference—now in its 29th year—is meant to better reflect the evolving dynamics of screen-based entertainment.
“It’s a very interesting time because we’ve got content creators now that are obviously showcasing excellence in storytelling, but they’re not necessarily showing it just in film or just in television,” Dupuis explained. “They’re crossing over across platforms, so I think we have a really unique opportunity in terms of the makeup of the screen-based industry here in Vancouver to do something potentially unique.”
Dupuis noted that this year’s VIFF Industry will include more guests from Los Angeles and New York, who will speak on everything from storytelling and film production, to marketing, audience engagement, and digital media.
“We’re also certainly looking at visual effects, gaming, and animation as being a key pillar of VIFF Industry going forward,” Dupuis added.
In terms of the upcoming film festival, which presented over 300 films from more than 75 countries in 2013, Dupuis doesn’t expect to change its international orientation. She also isn’t concerned about competition from other local film festivals or from the more commercial, star-studded Toronto International Film Festival.
“We obviously support a lot of those organizations,” she said. “TIFF is certainly a great Canadian and international success story and we have no interest in or need to compete with them. I think the more organizations we have like us and TIFF focused on the development and advancement of the screen-based industry is positive for the Canadian economy. I say that for VIFF specifically, it’s common for organizations like ours to thrive alongside industry. The two are usually not mutually exclusive.”
For now, Dupuis’ primary concern is finding ways to integrate the Society’s three businesses: the festival, the VIFF Industry conference, and the Vancity Theatre.
“I think the more that we can align those three business units and those three brands, the more impact we can have in the community, building on our strength as an international destination for film programming, and hopefully eventually in the context of the evolving screen-based industries in general,” she stated. “We’re focused on excellence in storytelling at the end of the day, and I think that’s the common thread.”