The first few chapter headings in a film we did not program at this year's VIFF are: “Technology Is Great”, “The Industry Is Dead”, “Artists Have the Power”, and “The Craft Is Gone.” To which celluloid-loving film festival organizers might ask: Is it‾ Do they‾ Where on earth are we headed‾ And why‾

VIFF has come a long way in its 30 years and never has the future of cinema--and VIFF's future--been more uncertain. Will it be bright and splendid and fair or will it move so quickly that a great deal of what is valuable will be lost before we know it‾ There are now dramatically more “film festivals” and “films” being made than ever, yet some fear that the industry may be dead. Filmmakers are acutely worried for funding, yet need to operate on a growing number of fronts. Given that the numbers of hours in a day and the numbers of days in a life remain fixed, what limits should we council for our own appetites‾ Why might we miss the Hollywood Theatre and Videomatica‾ Given that cultural agencies seemingly have shrinking resources but more new media and film festival applicants every year, will the centres hold or is babble ascendant‾ Will VIFF's function as an annual international universalist festival be superseded by myriad niche events‾

Technology is indeed great in that it has put the means of creative motion picture production in almost everyone's hands, but will the best artists be the ones to be recognized‾ The entrepreneurial spirit tends to favour change in hopes that it may profit from it, but will artists have the power‾ When entrepreneurs benefit, will consumers benefit‾ Will cultural institutions that have taken years to build remain viable‾ Will cinema, metrics of quality and craftsmanship and, ultimately, quality of life be improved or even be sustainable‾ What do you personally care about for the future of cinema to offer‾ What should VIFF 2020 aim to be‾

Here to wrestle with these sorts of questions—and yours—will be a distinguished group of panellists including: David Bordwell, film critic, academic and author of numerous books on cinema; Simon Field, film producer and former Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam; Andréa Picard, film critc and programmer, formerly of the Toronto International Film Festival and the Cinémathèque Ontario; Tom Charity, film critic and Vancity Theatre program coordinator; and Alan Franey, director, Vancouver International Film Festival.

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