It’s almost summer in Vaughan. The flowers are blooming and the excitement for warmer temperatures is undeniable along with the closing of the Third Annual Vaughan Film Festival (VFF). The event itself has showed signs of blossoming into a world-class event fitting of the city it calls home. Just like Vaughan, a city that boasts nearly 100 different languages spoken, the representation of countries from all parts of the world has made this local event a worldwide celebration.
On the heels of 2014 the Chinese short film, “Singer Not the Song” took home the nod for Best Film. This year it opened opportunity for films from Germany, Mexico, France and others to take home the coveted prize. At its core, the VFF aims to celebrate the storytelling of artists around the world, while giving the chance for local filmmakers of all ages to showcase their work among the best the world has to offer. This year, Colossus Theatres featured three international blocks of films, followed by this year’s crop of submissions from local high school students that took place on May 25th. “The festival’s growth in three short years speaks volumes about the support from the international film community as they begin to recognize VFF as a pivotal stop on their festival circuit,” explains Antonio Ienco, Festival Director.
Ienco realized the need to keep this event firmly rooted in the soil it was founded in. Ienco and fellow Festival Director and Founder Mark Pagliaroli, have worked tirelessly along with their volunteer committee to bring all aspects of film, not just the final product, but also each of the steps required to perfect it along the way to interested filmmakers and film buffs alike. World-renowned stuntman, Peter Kent and Emmy award-winning sound mixer, Frank Morrone was among those who have hosted industry seminars here in Vaughan as part of the VFF’s growing profile and event offerings. Also, the Awards Show attracted celebrities not only because ET Canada’s Rick Campanelli hosted for the third time, but because the event itself has garnered attention outside of Vaughan.
Michael Madsen – one of the stars of Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated 2015 Release, “The Hateful Eight” was on hand for this year’s festivities. He joined judges and Hollywood celebrities, Ellen Dubin and Andrew Jackson, adding some star power to the event, helping it shine just a little brighter. Madsen was this year’s recipient of the Independent Leadership Award, an award that recognizes a person’s contributions to the independent film scene. With 241 credits to his name, Madsen’s star has shone brightly in Hollywood and beyond.
This star power has lent itself to an exciting crop of films at this year’s festival. The submissions easily eclipsed last year’s total, bringing exceptional depth to the overall quality of the International Blocks shown on May 25th and 27th. “This year, the festival doubled in submissions and we couldn’t be more satisfied with the content we received, especially the quality of the Canadian content,” says Pagliaroli.
The event’s growth has also contributed to receiving additional corporate support, as the VFF added McDonald’s, Air Canada, KPMG and Pizza Nova to their growing list of sponsors. Producing Sponsor, Scotiabank, recently committed to an additional three years of support as, from day one, representatives have seen the impact that VFF has had here in Vaughan. They have confidently added their support behind the festival while seeing and appreciating the scope and calibre of the event. To go along with this year’s award show and screenings the festival provided additional opportunities for young artists in Vaughan. The festival’s impact has been greatly felt among teens as the invitation to submit work has spawned burgeoning careers in the arts – with the VFF also providing roughly $15,000 in scholarships to local students.
The red carpet rolled out with much enthusiasm and the VFF team could not be happier with the results. This event will continue to create considerable buzz and its evolution is making Vaughan a destination for artists across the globe.
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