How to Prepare for VIFF

Vancouver’s largest film festival has almost arrived, and we all must prepare for the tsunami of contemporary films that will soon wash across our eyes. It might seem like an overwhelming task, as there is almost 500 films screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year, but you can prepare yourself!

First, you have to find yourself a hard-copy of the 2018 guide. The digital version is wonderful for keeping you updated on last minute changes, but the hard-copy is a must for optimal festival planning. You can find copies of the guide all around the city, and there is even a list of some of the locations on VIFF’s website. I got my copy at Vancity Theatre.

Now that you have your hands on your own guide, you got to start using it! Rifle through the pages and find what interests you. Trust your gut. This is your first pass, and you should be noting what stands out to you personally. I suggest getting some sticky notes and fixing them onto the pages of your picks.

As there are a lot of films, you probably don’t have the time to read every film’s description. Thus, I suggest you instead narrow your search — look at the streams that interest you, then stills that capture your attention, and then read the descriptions. My favourite streams based on previous programming are True North (with special interest on Future//Present section), Gateway, and ALT.

At this point, I had over forty films that I wanted to see, and only sixteen days to see them all. If you are anything like me, you would still be overwhelmed by these numbers.


The next step is to listen for the buzz. Listen to your favourite film critics and fellow cinephiles for what they are planning on checking out. And listen broadly. Don’t underestimate the power of a mother’s intuition on which films seem cool this year. This step allows for us to finalize our personal top picks for the festival.

And now you know what you want to see, it’s time to figure out when you are going to see them. The guide has a very useful pull-out schedule you can use to figure out when all the films are screening. I personally like to note in my day planner which films interest me that day.

For example, on October 10th there is three films that interest me: Bojan Bodružić’s The Museum of Forgotten Triumphs, Lars von Trier’s The House that Jack Built, and Joaquín Cociña & Cristóbal León’s The Wolf House. The problem is that the last two start times overlap. However, instead of trying to choose which one I want to see now, I leave both in my planner so I can decide on the day of which I want to see. I can ask myself on the day: "do I feel like some heavy horror, or am I in the mood for some experimental animation from Chile?


We have the what and the when are prepared for VIFF, the final step is the who! Who do you want to see these wonderful movies with? Talk to your friends and make plans together; introduce your less film-centric friends to some potentially great movies. Seeing films with others on the big screen can create wonderful memories. At the same time, don’t forget to go out and see some films on your own too! Some of my favourite movie-going experiences came from solo movie adventures.

Whether you are planning on seeing three movies a day, or just want to catch the highlights, I hope these tips have helped you prepare for VIFF 2018.