Film festivals to warm your winter

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      While the 2010 Olympics will hog most of the limelight over the next few weeks, there are still plenty of films and film events going on in our fair city. Here are just a few upcoming film festivals to consider attending.

      On Friday (January 22), the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival kicks off its run until January 29.

      Meanwhile, in the wake of the critical and commercial success of numerous sci-fi films (including Avatar winning best picture and best director Golden Globe awards), the timing of Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH’s third annual SPARK FX visual-effects conference and festival (January 27 to 31 at Vancity Theatre [1181 Seymour Street]) couldn’t be better. Expect high demand for presentations such as “Creating the World of Pandora for Avatar ” with Weta Digital’s visual-effects supervisor Dan Lemmon, and “ILM Visual Effects for Avatar ” with Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll (who is also delivering the keynote session). The stellar lineup includes material from hits such as District 9 (“D9: Manufacturing an Alien Arsenal”), Star Trek (“A Creative Journey Through the Galaxy of Star Trek ”), and 2012 (“2012: It’s a Disaster”). There’ll also be eight screenings, including classics like the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and contemporary fare like Watchmen (2009).

      Simultaneously, the ninth annual World Community Film Festival (January 29 to 31 at Langara College [100 West 49th Avenue] ) will draw attention to social and environmental issues with over 40 films, covering everything from conservationists fighting Japanese whalers (At the Edge of the World ) to the impact of the oil industry on the environment (Sweet Crude, Justicia Now ), even in our own Canadian backyards (Land of Oil and Water, H2Oil ). The last two are part of a spotlight on water issues on Saturday (January 30), which will include a panel discussion to accompany Tapped, an examination of the bottled-water industry. The fourth annual Langara Student Film Festival on the same day will include short films that address local issues: B.C. wages, the New Energy Movement, Little Mountain social housing, safe houses, and homelessness.

      Just prior to Black History Month, the Black Dot Roots & Culture Collective is presenting the Black History in Film Festival 2010 (January 30 at the Rio Theatre [1660 East Broadway]). The daylong program includes films ranging from music-themed selections (Reggae in a Babylon, Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme ) to African dramas to documentaries (Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man, The Spook Who Sat By the Door ).

      Other upcoming festivals to keep in mind are ¡Viva El Cine Mexicano! (February 10 to 21; Pacific Cinémathí¨que, 1131 Howe Street), a retrospective of Mexican cinema presented by the Consulate General of Mexico with the Latin American Film Festival; the I Heart Van Art Made in Vancouver Film Festival (February 16), a showcase of local films to be held in Yaletown during the Winter Olympics; Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth (April 9 to 16); and the Women in Film Festival (April 17 and 18), which is accepting submissions until January 28.