Cinemuerte is dead; long live Big Smash

Vancouver's alt-film soirees are tough to fill. After seven years at the helm of Cinemuerte, that festival's creator, Kier-la Janisse, knows this well. So well, in fact, that she let the festival die in the fall of 2005. But even though Janisse has moved to the more film-friendly Austin, Texas, she just can't stay away. From tonight until Tuesday (April 20 to 25), she's back with the first ever Big Smash music-on-film festival (www.big, mostly at the Pacific Cinémathí¨que.

"It is incredibly difficult to get people to come out and be enthusiastic," Janisse told the Straight. "The reason I keep doing it in Vancouver is because no one else is."

The fest's 21-film lineup ranges from the Nina Simone: Love Sorceress soul biopic to The Muppet Movie, with special guest composer Paul Williams, to TV Party, which charts the life and death of the late-1970s public-access punk show.

Janisse has high hopes for Big Smash, which is profoundly cheaper to run than Cinemuerte. Old horror-film reels, she explained, are prohibitively expensive to ship, whereas music films come on VHS and DVD.

Wreckless Eric penned the 1977 album Big Smash, for which the festival is named. Janisse explained that it's an album she can't live without, and singer Eric Goulden will be live at the Railway Club on Sunday (April 23) as part of the events.

"I keep going back to Vancouver because, as hard as it is, there's people who really appreciate it," Janisse said. "So I'm compelled to keep it up. Vancouver, they need it."