VIFF's inaugural Rupture showcase will kill its darlings

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      Next Sunday (May 27), in an act of perverse beauty, 12 local filmmakers will premiere their newest short works at the Vancity Theatre, and then ritually destroy them—never to be seen again.

      Capping the Vancouver International Film Festival’s inaugural Rupture event, Self-Destructive Cinema provides a possibly fiery climax to four days of wild cinematic delights compiled for your pleasure by Altered States programmer Curtis Woloschuk, who knows a thing or two about midnight movies. As he tells the Straight: “It’s my deformed child.”

      Indeed, if you’ve been keeping an eye on the raves coming out of recent editions of the Sundance, Slamdance, and South by Southwest film festivals, then Rupture is probably the most essential thing on your calendar this year, with Ari Aster’s instant horror classic Hereditary the most conspicuous of the nine titles getting their Vancouver premiere.

      No less impressive: Woloschuk has also scored William Friedkin’s The Devil and Father Amorth, which sees the veteran filmmaker grappling with a real-life exorcism, along with the latest from Greasy Strangler sleaze auteur Jim Hoskins, An Evening With Beverly Luff Lin, and the Portuguese art-house slasher Forest of Lost Souls. Filmmaker David Lowery will also be on hand to present a Creator Talk about his enigmatic 2017 feature A Ghost Story.

      Watch the trailer for Ari Aster's Hereditary.

      It’s with Self-Destructive Cinema, however, that the event really announces itself as the kind of “old-timey happening” its curator half-jokingly calls for. Woloschuk credits Vancouver filmmaker Julia Hutchings for floating the idea two years ago of a “Not Available Online” film festival. Working together, they’ve induced local notables like Lawrence Le Lam, Cody Brown, and Sophie Jarvis to submit one-night-only works. It’s a poetic way to honour the ephemeral nature of the art form while levelling a blow against the solitary experiences offered by the web.

      “We plan to have a wake afterwards so people can commiserate, or mourn together, or celebrate the short mayfly lives of these films,” says Woloschuk, adding that they haven’t quite “worked through the exact particulars” of destroying the movies. One team is apparently bent on using an acid bath, but the organizer promises, however it happens, “it’s going to be cinematic.”

      “I think one of the really enchanting elements about this for us is that we really don’t know what the evening is going to be like,” he says. “Will it be celebratory? Funereal? I don’t know! The filmmakers don’t know either!”

      The “rules of engagement” are also still being hammered out. As with Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival, cellphones won’t be welcome.

      “But do we want people to even tweet or talk about or describe what they’ve seen?” ponders the programmer.

      How about slaughtering the audience on the way out?

      “No,” insists Woloschuk. “Nobody’s going to die. Everybody makes it out alive. It’s the films that are being sacrificed here.”

      Rupture takes place at the Vancity Theatre from next Thursday to Sunday (May 24 to 27). For details, see event listing.