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Subscribe to Senses of Cinema to receive news of our latest cinema journal. Enter your email address below:. It rained during most of my stay at the latest Vancouver International Film Festival VIFF — a thick, persistent, almost sweet, drizzle that covered the horizon in greyish tones and gave the cityscape an air of noble melancholy.
Rain was a good thing. As curators from the North Pacific will tell you, in fair weather potential spectators tend to stay outdoors. Comes rain, they return to their cinephilic habit, and you get the audience you deserve. This year, however, they had to walk further to get their fix. Canada has taken a hit with the economic crisis, and many Vancouver theatres are closing. Located at the heart of the main downtown strip, between shoe manufacturer outlets, clothing shops for teenagers, porn shops, pizza parlours and restaurants, it was reclaimed at the end of its lease by the landlord that had bigger and better plans.
The neighbourhood restaurants took a hit, losing customers in the process. A couple of other venues were also secured in the vicinity, but the Cineplex Odeon was the largest, the best equipped 3D projection was available and, being new to the festival business, the most problematic. Yet the show must go on, and the VIFF remains a high quality, thoughtfully curated showcase. Its current difficulties are symptoms of a time when cinema has to lure spectators into the unappetising confines of gigantic shopping malls and compete for their attention with other digital products.
Digital or not, cinema is still faced with the question of whether it is possible to represent the world. These are the films I want to talk about. Nobody does it better than Hong Sang-soo: take an achingly defined space, boredom no objection: a resort town, a university campus and its surroundings, a neighbourhood in a big city.
Sprinkle it with a few places hotels, student housing containing a bed, and with a number of eateries and watering holes offering fried chicken, cappuccino, beer or soju. Narrow pedestrian streets, where lone passers-by can hear the sound their own steps, in sync with the confusion of their hearts.