It’s just so darn important that when you need to know where you’re going, it’s important to know where you’ve been.
Kicking off tomorrow at select Cineplex locations across the country; the Flashback Film Fest is playing some of the greatest single pieces of celluloid to ever hit the big screen. With efforts like Back To The Future, Dune, Gremlins, The Terminator, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Wargames & the infamous Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz & The World’s End) if only to name a few and it is the week that so many hard core cinephiles all across the country have been looking forward to in order to catch some of their all time favourites at some low, low prices.
In advance of the launch of this annual event we got the chance to explore some of the roots of this event, now heading into its 9th year and sit down with Brad LaDouceur; the VP of Event Cinema at Cineplex to talk a little about not only the importance of being able to appreciate movies on the big screen, retrospective cinema going forward in the modern age and what else might be in store from Cineplex Events going forward.
Dave Voigt: Can you tell us about the origins of the Flashback Film Fest (Originally The Great Digital Film Fest) and what ultimately sparked its creation?
Brad LaDouceur: When we launched ‘The Great Digital Film Fest’ in 2010, we wanted to give our guests the unique opportunity to see films that, at the time, had not yet been seen in a digital format. The first year of the festival, we screened classics like The Godfather, The Wizard of Oz, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Silence of the Lambs and The Shawshank Redemption and since then, the programming has opened up to include action, comedy, animation and even martial arts. It felt appropriate to change the name of the event last year to ‘Flashback Film Fest’, as screening in digital format became the norm, but the appetite to see classic favourites on the big screen was still very prevalent. It’s been so great watching the festival evolve over the years and I can’t believe we’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2019.
DV: What factors go into the programming of a festival like this? Is it simply based on popular films that have been a hit, have achieved cult status, or even with films that may have been overlooked during their original runs but deserve a second go around on the big screen?
BL: Planning this festival is one of the highlights of my year. Our Cineplex Events team, along with film critic and Pop Life host Richard Crouse, get to sit around a table and throw out movies to include in the line-up. That process is usually based on personal taste, which of course makes for a pretty long meeting when you’re sitting at a table with a bunch of movie buffs! We then refine that list based on whether the film has an upcoming anniversary, if it has recently been remastered, or if the studio has released it digitally and made it available for cinemas.
‘Flashback Film Fest’ will be a great runway leading up to the release of Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One. Anyone who has read that book will know that it references a lot of films in our lineup, including WarGames, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Iron Giant, Back to the Future and Gremlins.
DV: It’s such a stacked lineup (god knows I’ll be at a few myself this year) do you get to pick a favourite film or are you just looking forward to another great year of this event?
BL: It’s a fantastic lineup and we’re really proud of it. One cool piece that I’m really excited about is screening the Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), which we’ll be screening back-to-back-to-back.
I also love the nostalgic appeal of the ‘Flashback Film Fest’. It’s a good opportunity for parents to introduce their age-appropriate kids to movies that they grew up with and love. The Big Lebowski and Monty Python Holy Grail are time-honoured films in my family and my hope is that those kinds of films will have a few more fans by the end of the festival.
DV: There has been a common misconception that with Events screenings like this that in most cases it’s just a copy of the Blu-ray being projected on to the big screen but in fact these are digital prints being shown in all screenings. In an age where the ideas behind proper theatrical masking and presentation have been lost in a multiplex age, can at least some of these ideas be brought back in trying to preserve and allow the theatrical experience to thrive?
BL: Correct, these are digital prints and not Blu-ray presentations. When we begin the process of choosing which films are being presented in cinema, we reach out to each of the major film studios to see what they’re currently remastering. Many are working hard to archive their library in both 4k and 8k digital scans, with entire teams and the original filmmakers involved in the process. This year, the presentation of T2:3D was remastered in 3D by James Cameron, with a real focus on the highest possible standard of colour and picture.
And while screen sizes and auditoriums have changed, the presentations are far superior to days gone by with brighter, sharper images and full surround digital audio.
DV: The landscape of the modern media and theatrical exhibition is one that is constantly changing and retrospective cinema is something that can get lost in the shuffle while still playing an important role, not only in film but in a film community. How does the advent and promotion of the Cineplex Events series ultimately affect your bottom line?
BL: Cineplex Events and retrospective cinema programming use our movie theatres on days of the week when select locations might be quieter. Weekends and many weeknights showcase our first-run blockbuster films and we know that Tuesday is a big movie-going day across Canada, but Mondays can be quiet. We’ll showcase a Classic Film like Charade on a Monday night and offer it at a discount price of $6.99.
DV: Has there been any film (or event) that you just haven’t been able to book for one reason or another over the years?
BL: We’ve been really lucky with our programming over the years as we’ve been able to secure most of the films on our wish list, from blockbuster mainstream to the cult favourites. However, we’d love to one day have a slew of Nicolas Cage films in the ‘Flashback Film Fest’ that would appropriately be dubbed “Cage-Fest”. It’s an idea that’s percolating right now.
DV: With the constant glut of film content not only at the theatrical exhibition level which makes it hard for some films to even make it to the screen but also via On Demand and VOD services that are making selection for the average consumer increasingly difficult do you think there will always be a place or a demand in this industry to have events like a Flashback Film Fest?
BL: Movies are made to be seen on a big screen with an audience and that experience cannot be rivaled. Given the technology filmmakers have access to these days, the possibilities seem unlimited and the methods aren’t just being applied to new films. This year, we have Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D screening in the festival – a film that found huge success in ’91 and, almost 30 years later, is restored in 4K and reimagined in 3D. That is a film that needs a home like ‘Flashback Film Fest’ to preserve the unique experience it offers that you can’t get from any video streaming service.
Flashback Film Fest runs at select Cineplex locations all across Canada. To learn more about what’s playing and special ticket pricing and offers you can visit Cineplex right here for more information.