The VIFF promos, produced by TBWA\Vancouver, have always been their own works of art, and last year was, with the "An Open Mind Is Advised" series, a creative peak. Not even as an ad but as a short film, "Subtitles" is still one of my favourites, and "Sexuality" is a very close second:
Even by the end of last year's VIFF, I wasn't bored by the promos, and always enjoyed the first-time reaction among audience members. But in past years, regardless of how good or amusing the four or five shorts would be, by the second festival weekend and after several VIFF screenings, either I had seen the same ad so many times that I could mouth the words (or roll my eyes), or I timed my entrance before the movie actually started so as to miss the ad altogether.
Perhaps in part to alleviate the repetition and to keep the promos fresh for everyone, this year's promos are not stand alone shorts, but scenes from a complete movie called The Warden Sixteen. One scene is 'released' every day of the festival, 16 days, and every film on that day is preceded by the same scene. The scenes are being released out of order, and if you miss a day, or two, you can watch the missed scenes on the website, but if you missed the first day, here's the one that explains the concept:
While I give thumbs up to the concept, I give thumbs down to the execution. It's brilliant to have a promotional film divided up and shown over the course of the festival. Oh, the level of ironies possible within! Oh, the shared experience and the conversation starters without: "Did you see...?"! But the scenes so far are dull: dull looking, dull acting, dull story, with audience reactions ranging from guffaws to outloud "What the...?" And the promo concept is lost as the VIFF logo and sponsor thank you's appear so long after the scene fadeout and website address flash, that few people are connecting the two. I'm hopeful there's a payoff in the end--will the screenings on the last day include the entire film?--but it's going to have to be a big payoff to counter the letdown so far.