First Weekend Club: A new venue for a promising new year

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It's shaping up to be a promising year for the First Weekend Club.

After all, the FWC will be celebrating a decade of promoting Canadian films this spring. And what better way to usher in those celebrations than with some great news.

On the line with the Georgia Straight, executive director Anita Adams chats enthusiastically about a new partnership the FWC has with the Vancouver International Film Festival Society.

It all began when the FWC teamed up with Vancity Theatre for a special opening event for the locally shot brom-com Doppelgänger Paul last March. Rather than holding their usual advance screenings prior to the theatrical run, the FWC held the event on the film's opening night and, as Adams states, it was a "tremendous success". The sold-out screening prompted Adams to reconsider their approach.

"After that event, I walked away and was thinking about [how] these advance screenings that we have been doing can work really well for some films and in some incidences, not as well," she says. "It can take away from that opening weekend….If the film has a really good word-of-mouth aspect to it, then those advance screenings can really work really well. And if it doesn't have that word-of-mouth strong component, then it might not serve the film as well."

Due to the closure of one of their previous venues, Denman Cinemas, Adams says that the FWC was looking for a new venue. With Vancity Theatre interested in collaborating on opening night events, the rest is history.

The first presentation at their new location (1181 Seymour Street) will be held this Friday (January 4; wine reception at 7:15 p.m., screening at 8:20 p.m.) with a screening of Liverpool. The Quebec new-wave romcom thriller (which previously screened at the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival) follows the adventures of a coat-check girl who  gets mistaken for another woman, and winds up on the run with a computer nerd. To add to the evening, there'll also be a post-screening discussion with director Manon Briand via Skype.

But what's more, the FWC's collaboration with the Vancouver International Film Centre will result in huge savings, both time and money.

Adams says they'll no longer have to deal with logistics ranging from booking and shipping the film and ordering wine for their receptions to managing the box office and writing up reports for distributors. As if that's not enough, she adds that they also no longer have to pay for rent or distributor fees.

"All of that was really time-consuming and financially—it's costly," she says. "We were never covering our costs by running this screening series before. It was subsidized, and we generated ticket sales but we never came close to covering our costs. So this is much better use of our resources and our time, and all of it goes to the opening weekend box office numbers, which is the critical thing and the whole mission of the First Weekend Club."

It's good timing too, as the FWC is about to launch their foray into the world of video-on-demand.

After a successful fundraising drive, Adams is pleased to report that the platform for CanadaScreens.ca has been built and that they're targeting March as a launch date. They've also just signed a contract for 15 more films from Alliance.

But she cautions viewers not to expect a Netflix with thousands of Canadian titles.

"There's going to be a very small library to start, probably something like 50 to 60 titles and then we'll keep adding some new titles weekly to the site, and grow it very slowly and organically."

In the meantime, there'll be plenty of other FWC events for moviegoers to look forward to, including one on January 18 for Mark Sawers' black comedy Camera Shy, about a corrupt Vancouver city councillor.

With all this in store, it looks like 2013 will go down as a very good year for the FWC.

 

 

 

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Raymond Tomlin
Manon Briand's new film, Liverpool, is in the estimation of this writer an absolutely brilliant film, and in my judgement the best Canadian film of the year, offering a groundbreaking directorial effort by award-winning Québécois director, Manon Briand, that explores the use of social media as no filmmaker nor any film has achieved as successfully previous to the release of Liverpool.

We used to talk about 'au courant' filmmaking, but the term fell into disfavour and eventual dis-use. With Liverpool, Ms. Briand re-invents the notion of au courant, all to the good for film fans who'll attend screenings of Liverpool at the Vancouver International Film Festival's Vancity Theatre, on Seymour Street, this next week.

And how heartening that VIFF Festival Director Alan Franey and Vancity Theatre programmer Tom Charity, and the able crew at VIFF have worked with Anita Adams and the folks at the First Weekend Club to secure a new home at Vancouver's 'film centre'.

Congratulations to everyone concerned.

As for me, I'm looking forward to an 8:20pm screening of Liverpool tonight, at the Vancity.
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