She moved from Calgary five years ago to become executive director of the Vancouver International Film Festival, looking after the film centre, events and the 16-day festival kicking off today, September 29. We chatted to Jacqueline Dupuis about women in the movies, fashion and what’s coming up at this year’s festival. —Aileen Lalor
Jacqueline Dupuis. Image: Contributed
How did you get started, working with film festivals?
I was working in tech in Calgary, and was also on the board of the Calgary International Film Festival. I was asked to help fix some debt that the festival had and eventually took on the role of executive director. I found I enjoyed the mix of business and the arts. Five years ago I was recruited to run VIFF. I think nowadays there’s an increased recognition of the importance of business in the arts – the idea that if we run our arts organisation like a business event though it’s not for profit, we’ll have more funding. Previously organisations were artist led, which didn’t necessarily lead to them making money.
Have you always been a film buff?
My love for films developed in my 20s, when I was at university. I discovered that there was a class of films that were more interesting than others. My technique was to go to the video store and look for the films with film festival laurels, which I thought would challenge me.
'Maudie'. Image: VIFF
Do those kind of accidental discoveries happen as much now that we have streaming services and so on?
The algorithms of online systems are quite sophisticated and they do pick up on taste, so I think people are watching more quality content now. That said, they might not recommend artists like Michael Haneke or Lars von Trierand you have to dig for those. That’s the beauty of film festivals – we bring you those films you wouldn’t usually see.
Do you think more women are moving into power positions in the movie industry these days?
On the administrative and executive side, women have always had a strong presence – we’re the power behind the art. And in front of camera – the stars – presence is strong too. The disconnect is in key creative roles such as directors. Women need more opportunities to direct and people all around the world are working to make that happen. We’ve had a couple of high-profile female directors conducting VIFF master classes and they discussed how much presence and assertiveness they need on set. Women need space to create and are not always given that.
VIFF Industry. Image: VIFF
'Violent'. Image: VIFF
What’s Style in Film all about?
It’s something we started three years ago, created around my own passion for fashion and style movies but also to attract a new audience. It has a different slant—it’s not just focused on fashion. We have Franca: Chaos and Creation, a film about Franca Sozzani, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, but we also include movies that have great costume, for example, or a very strong and distinctive aesthetic.
Why do you think there’s been such a burgeoning interest in fashion movies over the past decade?
It is strange that an entire genre of movies that never existed before has suddenly emerged. I think the industry realised that there are all these fashion icons with interesting stories to tell – it started with The September Issue and Bill Cunningham New York, and then there were the Yves Saint Laurent and Dior movies. The one I’m excited for right now is Nocturnal Animals, the Tom Ford movie that premiered at Venice. It’s not a fashion movie per se but it has that highly stylised, specific aesthetic that means you recognise it as Tom Ford immediately.
'Franca: Chaos and Creation'. Image: VIFF
What are your three must-watch movies at VIFF this year?
Franca: Chaos and Creation is a story of a powerful women not afraid to change the game. Maudie portrays the beloved Canadian folk artist [Maud Lewis], who remains true to her creativity despite great adversity. Hello Destroyer, Kevan Funk’s first feature, is a testament to the inspired future of emerging Canadian storytellers.
VITA is a proud sponsor of VIFF 2016.