When the 23rd Edmonton International Film Festival was in the planning stages, organizers had the strange fear of dealing with packed houses.
Since last year’s festival, Empire City Centre 9 has undergone renovations which actually reduced the overall capacity of the theatres. Fewer seats and, in turn, fewer ticket sales could have negatively impacted EIFF’s bottom line.
With the festival closing this weekend, the final ticket tabulation has yet to be calculated. But EIFF producer Guy Lavallee is happy to report that the new stadium-style seats are more comfortable, the screens bright and crisp, and that change is good.
“Before the renovations, auditoriums 1 and 2 were massive,” he says. “Even the new mega-plexes only seat about 300 people, but the old Cinema 2 at Empire sat about 700. You’d get good crowds, but it was absolutely cavernous in there.
“Now, it’s a little more intimate and a much better feeling, I think. With the audience closer together, you can really feed off that.”
Tonight, film lovers will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with filmmaker Todd Berger, winner of the 2009 EIFF Rising Star award, who will be here for the world premiere of his new movie, The Scenesters. Showtime is 7:15 p.m.
“It’s a murder mystery film noir comedy,” says Lavallee. “Todd was here a couple of years ago to screen his documentary Don’t Eat the Baby: Adventures at Post-Katrina Mardi Gras.
The response to it was really positive and he had a great time so we’re really pleased that he decided to let Edmonton have the premiere of his new film. It’s a real testament to our crowds.”
Following The Scenesters at 9:30 p.m. is My Suicide, the 2009 winner of EIFF’s Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic feature. The film follows a student who announces that he’s going to kill himself on camera for a class project.