Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana

 

The most successful Windsor International Film Festival yet has just wrapped up, and some 22,000 ticket holders are holding their breath until WIFF 2018.

There were 99 titles and more than 110 showtimes. That’s an average of about 200 people per show.

It also meant thousands of people downtown who, at any other time, might not have had a reason to be there. My wife and I had dinner a few times during the week and each restaurant reported a spike in business. One place reported four seatings on an evening.

Has the festival explored the idea of dinner-and-a-movie packages with some downtown restaurants? It wasn’t successful when the Windsor Symphony tried it, but we’re talking far more people in the core than on a single symphony night. Perhaps the downtown business association could get involved in promoting it among the businesses.

How about asking restaurateurs to provide discounts for pass holders? It might be an enticement to buy a pass.

I heard from several regular patrons that a mid-price pass might be a good idea. Not everyone can afford or has the time to commit to the $195 pass, for which the break-even point is 14 features. What about a “six-pack” for $75?

I spoke with some previous festival-goers who declined to buy passes this year because in the past they found some of the films sold out. That’s unfortunate because this year the festival held back tickets to ensure pass holders would have access to all titles regardless of popularity. It’s a smart policy.

Some tweaking is still necessary, however. The pass does not include the Opening Night Gala or the Closing Night feature. Why? If someone forks over $195 for the week, wouldn’t it be a selling point to include one or both of the galas?

I don’t know what the attendance was like for the script readings, but this seems to me to be a little too academic or specious for a popular festival like WIFF.

The headline for this blog is a quote from The Trip to Spain, a hilarious buddy-cum-road-cum-foodie feature from two brilliant British comics and actors, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. They play themselves in a fictionalized, eye-catching trip through Spain and many of its eateries. It was one of the sheer delights of the 17 films I took in.

The first film my wife and I saw was Loving Vincent, and it turned out to be my favourite. The stunning beauty and incredible craftsmanship of this movie takes it beyond the sphere of cinema and into high art. Like a painting by Van Gogh, it belongs in a gallery.

Django was another inspirational experience, a wonderful and true story of endurance for the sake of one’s art, not to mention a magnificent soundtrack. Manifesto was the shock of the festival for me – Cate Blanchett deserves 12 best-actor nominations for her multiple performances.

Other titles that stood out included Call Me By Your Name, The Square, The Journey, Tulip Fever, and The King’s Choice. 12th and Clairmount was a standout for its retelling of a significant event in late-20th century Detroit history.

WIFF plans to bring back some of the more popular titles in a mid-winter series. Hopefully that will include Loving Vincent and 12th and Clairmount.

At one point during the week, my wife, Carlinda, remarked that attending WIFF is like taking a week’s vacation and not leaving town. You buy a pass, attend 20 or so movies, maybe have a dinner or two, then head back to your room, which isn’t at a $200-a-night hotel, but in the comfort of your own home.

Next year, take the week off. You won’t find a better vacation deal anywhere.