Three years ago Justin Adam was just a guy with a film to peddle and nowhere to show it. So he got a band, another film, booked the Kitsilano Showboat, and on a wet and chilly November evening, fifty people were treated to an open air, short-and-experimental film festival. This year, things will be a little bit more comfortable and a lot bigger. Screening at Robson Square, and combining a sense of Canadian nostalgia with a line up of 15 animated shorts, experimental films, and featuring four musical acts, the 3rd Annual Toquefest promises to draw lines around all those other outdoor, wintertime Canadian film and music festivals. Oh yeah, by the way—it’s FREE.
ONLY: How did the name Toquefest come about?
Justin Adam: During the first festival at the Kitsilano showboat, the J.P Carter Trio were finishing, the sun was setting, and then, once it was dark, the first film began to roll. It was really beautiful…and cold. There’s something about the Canadian spirit where when winter comes, you put your toque on, and your gloves, and do what you got to do. Also, you’ve got a lot of hoodie or toque wearing, film watching, music listening type people, and there was a connection there.
ONLY: You’ve got a lot of stuff from the National Film Board playing this year. How did you get that organised?
JA: Last year, I contacted someone from the NFB here in Vancouver, told them about my idea and asked if they would provide some content. You know, that old NFB stuff just has that feel…they’re playful, but a lot of it is so political and social, and not just entertainment. I mean, a lot of the films feel like they were made as a service. Anyway, I managed to get four animated films, and they really fit with the local stuff I had, and with the international stuff I managed to get my hands on. I guess they liked the way it went, so I got more this year.
ONLY: Like the four shorts by Norman McLaren?
JA: I was really interested in doing a bit of a retrospective, and I love Norman McLaren’s work. I think that that there are a lot of folks out there who are doing things eerily similar, but they’re doing everything digitally and he did everything by hand. Then the people at the NFB suggested a few other films that might work, like Ryan, which is a 3-D animated tribute to Canadian animator Ryan Larkin. He was an animator with the NFB thirty years ago, and now he lives on welfare and panhandles in Montreal.
ONLY: You’re featuring some pretty new and high profile shorts. How did you get those?
JA: All of the international and high profile films were solicited. I basically flat out asked the filmmakers if I could screen their work. I’m excited about the film We Have Decided Not to Die from Australia. It’s straight out of the box and just played at Resfest, and is one of the bigger experimental short films of the last year.
ONLY: How are you putting on this event for free?
JA: Frankly, I don’t have, and never have had, a budget for this event. I got some sponsors that I’m really happy to have, but as far as the programming, I haven’t spent a dime except for my internet connection.
ONLY: You’re not programming your own films any longer so why continue to do this?
JA: I guess now I just want to sort of remind everyone that we’ve got this great country. We’ve got so much great talent here, and I’m thinking of the greater idea of it. So there are some political and social implications now as well. Eventually I would like it to be something very Canadian, but also being inclusive.
The 3rd Annual Toquefest runs Nov 18-20, with the main event starting at 7pm Friday Nov 19 at Robson Square.