The Okanagan Film Festival failed at the last minute Wednesday to find a venue for its 2012 showcase.
Jeremy Heynen, the festival’s creator and artistic director, even moved the start of the three-day festival back one day to Friday, but he learned late Wednesday afternoon that one theatre at UBC Okanagan is not available and the other has a broken projector.
“This is the most heartbreaking and devastating thing I’ve been through in my life,” he said as he returned from UBCO.
The university booking office indicated it was too late to use Theatre 26, a new theatre run by students. During the previous 12 hours, the ceiling projector in the other UBCO theatre broke, and UBCO is awaiting the delivery of repair parts from Toronto, he said.
“At this point, we’re pretty desperate to find a space because on Friday, approximately 20
filmmakers from across North America — we’re talking executive producers, directors, writers — are going to be here, either leaving (Thursday) night or Friday morning,” said Heynen, who has been keeping them updated on Landmark Cinemas’ decision not to host the festival.
“They were extremely disappointed with Landmark. They, in fact, want to picket Landmark theatres. Now, I have to explain to them that we’re no longer going to be able to hold it at UBCO either,” he said.
“The filmmakers are on my side, but I really need some help from Kelowna right now. I feel like I owe it to the filmmakers to put their films through a projector and throw it up on a wall or a screen or whatever I can do.”
Heynen says he is wracking his brain, on no sleep, but can’t think of another proper venue in Kelowna.
“I hate to say it, but it’s not making our community look very good. The festival has three mottoes: to inspire, to encourage, to support. It’s also to make the Okanagan a destination for talent by showcasing Kelowna as a friendly community for filmmakers,” he said.
“I really wanted to try to make this a destination so that they come up here and they see how beautiful it is. And hopefully they get inspired to tell their next story in our backyard and build an industry here.”
Late Wednesday, UBCO issued a brief news release since at least one news outlet had reported the festival would be held at UBCO.
On Tuesday, festival organizers and students toured Theatre 26, the administration building’s ADM 026 theatre, it said. A booking request was submitted and considered Wednesday.
Due to the short notice, the request was not granted “as it does not allow sufficient time to arrange the campus support services — including security, facilities, custodial and parking staff — required for an event of this type,” said the news release.
“Some time ago, organizers of the Okanagan Film Festival were approached by UBC students about holding a special screening of student-made short films in the ADM 026 theatre on the weekend of Oct. 20 and 21. It is hoped that the proposed student short-film screenings will proceed.”
Among the films that festival organizers planned to show was Donkey Love, a 75-minute documentary about men in rural villages of Colombia who have sex with donkeys.