Get the popcorn ready. For the first time ever, audiences in Langley are being treated to some of the top films in the world at an “unprecedented” event.
The inaugural Langley International Film Festival (LIFF) is coming to the Chief Sepass Theatre in Fort Langley Feb. 19-21.
Hosted by the Langley School District Foundation, in partnership with Langley Film Nights, Shot in the Dark and The Toronto Film Festival (TIFF), this is a huge event for Langley, says Susan Cairns, executive director of the Langley School District Foundation.
“It’s unprecedented, there’s nothing like it in the Fraser Valley,” she said. “We are really excited.”
The weekend kicks off Friday night with the premiere screening of NUMB, directed by Langley’s Jason Goode.
Above: A scene from NUMB with actors Aleks Paunovic and Marie Avgeropoulos. Below: Director Jason Goode on set in the Okanagan. Submitted photos.
Shot in just 18 days in the dead of winter in the Okanagan, NUMB follows a couple facing financial disaster as they discover GPS coordinates that promise to lead to stolen gold.
“About five years ago, I got a first draft of the script from Andre Harden, who’s a writer I’ve worked with before, and immediately felt quite strongly about it — had a really great emotional response to it,” Goode said.
“It was about a couple who had just gone through a financial catastrophe, and my wife and I had had a similar experience. So I was reading this with that still fresh in my memory. And could feel the pull of … wanting a simple solution.”
It was nearly a four year process for Goode and his producing partner, Dylan Jenkinson, to develop the project and find funding for it. Even while filming it, they still weren’t sure what the end product would be.
“When you’re making a film, you don’t know,” Goode said.
“Films are chaotic monsters that you’re trying to rein in, especially when you’re shooting in the wilderness. The shooting is wild and you’re not ever sure how it’s going to turn out. And in the process of post production, I honestly did not know we had a really great film until really late.
“We tested it a lot with test audiences, and it wasn’t until a couple weeks before we locked our picture that we rearranged the order of the first act in such a way that we thought we had something. So that was quite gratifying, because making a movie is really an act of faith in so many ways.”
The film has been screened at Busan International Film Festival, one of the largest Asian film festivals in the world, and the Whistler Film Festival. On March 2, it goes to theatres across Canada.
Following the LIFF screening, there will be an opening night gala at Lelem Cafe, featuring the cast and crew of NUMB.
The festival continues on Saturday afternoon with a screening of Sleeping Giant, a film about young teenagers and the conflict and angst that they go through. This is one of the most highly regarded films of the year, and has already been screened at the Festival de Cannes.
Following this film is the Academy Award nominated movie Carol, a romantic drama set in 1952 New York starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson and Kyle Chandler. The story follows a young photographer and her relationship with an older woman going through a difficult divorce.
Saturday night finishes off with a montage of 20 short films produced by students from R.E. Mountain Secondary, Langley Fine Arts, and Brookswood Secondary.
Sunday begins with another Academy Award nominated film, Trumbo, which takes audiences back to 1947 when Dalton Trumbo, Hollywood’s top screenwriter, is jailed and blacklisted for his political beliefs.
And on Sunday evening, the festival closes out with Room, a story about a mother and son who escape confinement, and stars Langley actor Jacob Tremblay.
Festivals like LIFF are an important way for people to connect to films in a more intimate way, and to expose people to smaller budget films that do not have the capacity to advertise like big blockbusters do, Goode said.
“In most films, more money is spent on advertising than on the film itself,” Goode said.
“And so the smaller films are often just as good, if not better, but they don’t have the marketing push behind them. They are usually more niche films, say just for adults rather than adults and children. So we need people like the TIFF Film circuit, or the Langley International Film Festival to curate these films and encourage people to go to them. Because otherwise it’s hard to go against the flow of all the advertising you’re seeing everyday telling you to go to these larger films.”
It is also a great opportunity for student filmmakers to show off their work. Goode wishes he had the opportunity to learn film in high school, as it wasn’t until he completed a degree in biology and graduate degree in theology that he first got his feet wet in the film industry.
“I am envious of the high school students,” he said.
“I always wanted to make films, but I didn’t have any way to do it. You need that community.”
All proceeds from LIFF will go towards arts and film programs in Langley schools.
Chief Sepass Theatre, 9096 Trattle St.
Feb. 19 — 7 p.m. Numb; 9 p.m. Opening Night Gala at Lelem Cafe
Feb. 20 — 1 p.m. Sleeping Giant; 4:30 p.m. Carol; 8 p.m. Student Montage
Feb. 21 — 1 p.m. Trumbo; 3:30 p.m. Room
$10 per screening; $25 for the gala; $50 for a three-day pass
Visit www.langleyschooldistrictfoundation.com or call Susan Cairns at 604-532-1464