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Vaughan International Film Festival Celebrates 10 Years of Success

By Wayne Doyle

If there was ever any doubt as to who is VFF’s BFF, it should all but be eliminated now.

At the Vaughan International Film Festival’s 10th Annual Awards Gala at The Terrace Banquet Centre last night, Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua delivered an address in support that was nothing short of brilliant.

Working without a net – no notes – Mayor Bevilacqua hit all the right notes with an impassioned oration about the importance of the arts in general – “one of the greatest gifts we can share with future generations is our appreciation of the arts – they are a vital part of the diversity that enriches our city” – and the specific work done by VFF – “this festival is attracting work from around the world – say it again – around the world”.

With thousands of submissions delivered over the past 10 years, VFF has established itself as one of the category’s global leaders. Success at VFF can provide a filmmaker, actor or cinematographer with instant credibility and that goes a long way in an industry driven by word-of-mouth and reputation.

The works celebrated last night included entries from Pakistan, Greece, Islamic Republic of Iran, Canada, United States of America, Estonia, Spain, France, Finland and Italy. 

It’s a far cry from the festival’s humble beginnings, where, coincidentally, Mayor Bevilacqua made his first appearance.

“When we did our first festival, I sent out about a hundred invitations to the important people – politicians, sponsors, business people,” said festival co-founder Antonio Ienco during his address. “Only one showed up – Maurizio Bevilacqua. He’s been supporting us from the very beginning.”

Acknowledging long-time support and involvement is tantamount to the success of VFF. 

To illustrate, the awards ceremony coordinators did away with the typical celebrity presenter – the awards were presented instead by VFF staff.

And they paid tribute to outstanding achievement – honouring actress Kim Roberts with the Independent Leadership Award and independent sound mixer Frank Morrone with the Sandra Piccolo Trailblazer Award.

Closing out the awards evening was an intimate and wholly engaging performance by Canadian musician Chantal Kreviazuk. Between songs, the singer/songwriter shared stories about the importance of art and culture and its place in a world that continues to repeat the same cycle, over and over again.

“Every nation produces warriors, who give rise to merchants, who give rise to poets,” she said, referencing the current situation in Ukraine, the country from which one of her ancestors fled years ago for Canada. “It’s the poets who will tell the story.”

As the festival looks to its second decade and the opportunity to continue to cement its reputation as a premier global destination for the very best films, it was, once again, Mayor Bevilacqua who delivered the coup de grace.

“VFF shows the films that tell our stories,” Mayor Bevilacqua said. “They may not be in your language or from your country but they tell our story – the human story. That’s worth supporting.”

For more information on the Vaughan International Film Festival, please click here.

Main photo: Complete with Red Carpet media interviews and official sponsor-wall portraits, the Vaughan International Film Festival celebrated it’s 10th anniversary last night.

Photo row, from left: Economic and tourism boosters from the City of Vaughan and the York Region Arts Council celebrate at the gala awards last night; the evening’s entertainment opened with an energetic song-and-dance performance; major awards are handed out; singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk performs an intimate set.

Wayne Doyle is the manager of marketing and communications for the York Region Arts Council. A former journalist, Wayne is always looking for great stories to share with readers of experienceyorkregion.com. If you’ve got a York Region story to tell, contact Wayne: wayne@yorkregionartscouncil.com

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