The founder of the Vancouver International Film Festival and former local movie theatre operator, Leonard Schein, will be inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame on a fitting date: the gala opening of the 33rd edition of the festival on September 25.
Schein is a former Toronto International Film Festival executive director and Montreal World Film Festival director of English-language films.
He also owned and operated Vancouver movie theatres for 35 years. He founded Festival Films, the first full-service film distribution company west of Ontario, as well as Festival Cinemas, which ran the Ridge, the Park, and Fifth Avenue Cinemas. (The Park and Fifth Avenue Cinemas were sold to Cineplex Entertainment in March 2013 while the Ridge closed down.)
He has previously received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the BC Community Achievement Award, and the Canadian Cancer Society National Citation of Merit.
In a previous interview with the Georgia Straight, he had explained how he got his start in the movie-exhibition business.
“When I first came here in 1973, I taught psychology at the local colleges,” he said. “When I was a university student in the 1960s, you could see foreign films on campus every night for 25 cents. In Vancouver in the late 1970s, there was the Varsity Film Festival, but they only showed 14 different films once a year. Then I thought that if I opened my own movie theatre, I could see the films that I wanted to see. That’s pretty much how things happened.”
The BC Entertainment Hall of Fame induction will be held at the VIFF opening gala screening of Jean-Marc Vallée's Wild.