Inaugural Vancouver Just For Laughs Film Festival brings the funny
Vancouver doesn’t lack for film festivals. We seem to have one for every season, taste, and genre – except, until recently, comedy. How have we not had a film festival dedicated to comedy?!
Well, imagined crisis averted: Vancouverites in need of a good chuckle can now turn to a film fest whose entire raison d’etre is to make us laugh – and it’s from an organization well versed in the anatomy of funny.
The inaugural Vancouver Just For Laughs Film Festival kicks off tomorrow (March 1) and runs until March 10. It’s the film-loving, joke-cracking, slaphappy offspring of the JFL NorthWest Comedy Festival, which has been bringing superstar and emerging comedians to theatres and clubs across Vancouver since 2016.
But this year, in addition to presenting stand-up from comedy heavyweights like Trevor Noah, Bill Burr, and Jo Koy, JFL NorthWest is also screening feature films and shorts that, depending on the project, promise to bring belly laughs or insights into what it means to be funny in an unfunny world.
The Vancouver Just For Laughs Film Festival kicks off with the British Columbia premiere of The Death of Stalin – a political satire starring Steve Buscemi, Olga Kurylenko, Jason Isaacs, and Michael Palin about the power struggles that followed the death of dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953 – and closes on March 10 with the world premiere of Steve Byrne’s Always Amazing, which documents the rise of magician/comedian The Amazing Johnathan (pictured above) and his unlikely fraternal friendship with an awestruck 12-year-old boy.
In between those two tonally different films, there are six other features – urban-legend documentary Comedian Backstage, Max Winkler’s Flower, Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s Lost in Paris, Matt Atkinson’s Room for Rent, Víctor García León’s Selfie, and the Canadian premiere of Josh Greenbaum’s Too Funny to Fail, about the epic failure (and equally epic legacy) of The Dana Carvey Show – as well as two showcases of comedic shorts.
Like our city’s other film fests, the Vancouver Just for Laughs Film Festival isn’t limiting itself to screenings. It’s also offering industry panels: An Expert’s Guide to Buying Films (featuring Amit Dey from UPHE Content Group, and Dylan Wilcox from eOne; It Starts With a Script: A Comedy Screenwriters Panel featuring Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder), Max Winkler (Flower), and Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip); and Inside Hollywood North: Vancouver’s Homegrown Film Community, featuring filmmakers Mina Shum (Meditation Park), Jason James (Entanglement), and Matthew Kowalchuk (Lawrence & Holloman), and moderated by award-winning film and television journalist Sabrina Furminger (hey; that’s me!).
Ancillary events include Super Troopers 2 Live!, a standup performance by members of the American comedy troupe Broken Lizard and an exclusive first look at scenes from their upcoming film Super Troopers 2; a special event featuring the cast and creators of Corporate (a dark comedy about life as a junior executive at a soulless multinational); and a screening of the thoroughly unfunny 2008 teen vampire movie Twilight, made funny by commentary from Vancouver’s beloved Gentlemen Hecklers (AKA Eric Fell, Patrick Maliha, and Shaun Stewart, whose writing credits include Netflix’s Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Return).
For tickets and schedule and venue information, visit http://www.jflnorthwest.com/film-festival/