The countdown is on for Salt Spring Island’s 14th-annual documentary film festival at GISS.
It’s high gear all the way from now on for festival organizers and their volunteer crews. Opening night, featuring the highly praised Chasing Ice film, is the culmination of months of hard work and precision planning.
To get the most out of the festival weekend, a little pre-planning by film-goers pays big dividends when it comes to finding the best line of attack.
For example, the official festival guide (printed in last week’s Driftwood) lists all the film screenings, start times and locations, gives succinct descriptions of each film and its running length and notes when filmmakers will be present to answer questions post screening.
You can also see the festival line-up at www.saltspringfilmfestival.com. Study the guide in advance, select what you really want to see, and then figure out the maybes.
Remember to bring the guide with you to the festival.
Try to have a game plan before heading out, but expect to shift course if you arrive and find your screening room already full. Please don’t demand that extra chairs be put out. That won’t happen. There is a limited seating rule as determined by GISS and fire safety regulations.
When patrons first arrive, they will be asked to fill out a film society membership card and to place the section with name and contact details in one of the membership boxes.
Why do you have to be a member? It’s because most of the films shown at the festival have not been classified by the B.C. Film Classification Board. In order to view non-classified films, you are required to hold a membership in a film society. The festival must, of course, operate in full compliance with the classification board’s regulations. The cost of membership is one dollar, which will be deducted from your donation at the door.
Remember, the festival does not sell tickets. Admission is by donation, a policy that the festival society is proud to uphold, even in tight financial times, because it means no one is turned away.
Festival-goers are, however, asked to give as generously as they are able. Donations help pay for screening fees and operational costs. Diane Copeland Thomas, a festival society director, says “We would like people to understand that donations really are the lifeblood of our festival.”
The way people behave while visiting the festival can have a significant impact on the pleasure of others. While there is no official festival code of conduct, there are some generally accepted rules of etiquette that, when observed, allow everyone to have a good time. So, a few gentle reminders:
Be patient at the entrance. Lineups happen. Volunteers try to get people through the doors as quickly as possible. Please don’t abuse them if you have to wait.
Arrive at screening rooms in good time for the showing. This maximizes your chance of getting to see the film of your choice. There is no reserve seating. No standing permitted. Check your guide to see which films are being repeated.
Once the film has started, respect the audience by not entering late.
If you need to munch, do it before or after a screening. No food is allowed in the screening rooms.
Bring your own water bottles if possible. There are two new drinking fountains on site.
Vacate the screening room before the start of the next film.
Quiet in the hallways is appreciated so as not to disturb other film viewers.
Bring your membership card back with you on Sunday. You will need to show it.
Total immersion in the festival experience can be hugely rewarding. The sum of the whole becomes greater than its parts.
The program of first-rate documentaries, the presence of filmmakers keen to engage with their audiences, the wonderful food, provided this year by Mark, Millie and the GISS students and chef Bruce Wood and the Laughing Daughters Bakery, as well as the Social Justice Bazaar with its eclectic mix of community groups committed to raising awareness about a host of local and global issues — these are the elements that bind to create a singular and magical event to be enjoyed by everyone.
The Salt Spring Film Festival runs March 1 to 3 at GISS.