How has the transition been going from working in live theatre [Schroeder previously worked with One Yellow Rabbit] to the film world?
I’m a festival guy. I love festivals and I’ve worked on many before this, including the High Performance Rodeo, and the transition is really exciting to me. In many ways it’s exactly the same in terms of the festival dynamics, so I feel completely in my element. On the other hand, there’s a big difference with film festivals…. The volume of film coming out — there’s so much to choose from, from so many different countries. The volume of filmmakers who submit to the festival is close to a 1,000. And the completion dates for films is a moving target, which makes locking them in for the festival, as we get close to it, a nail-biting experience. Film festivals really lock their schedules right before they start — that’s a totally different dynamic from the performing arts, and it’s really exciting and sometimes it can be a thrilling ride.
What were your goals for your first year at the helm, and did you meet them?
We’ll see how it goes by the end of the festival, but our goal this year — because we have a mostly new team — was to put on an exciting program of films that would have a really broad appeal to all kinds of people. Based on the ticket sales now, one day before the festival opens, we’re really seeing that people are responding to the programming favourably. We’re getting all sorts of feedback not only from our audience here, but also from some of our film festival and film industry peers across the country who think the lineup is really unique and exciting.
But most of all, we want to get a really solid festival under our belt so it’s something to build on for 2013 and beyond.
On that note, what’s your long-term vision for the festival, or are you more concerned with getting this, your first festival, completed?
It’s both at the same time. With me coming in in January and most of the people being new, the immediate focus is obviously 2012 — it’s what we’re eating, breathing and sleeping right now. But, on a parallel track, we’re sowing the seeds for what the festival is going to grow into in the next three, five and 10 years.
It seems to me that Calgary is really almost a perfect film festival city, and it’s been waiting for our festival to continue growing into its potential. What I often say vision-wise is that our mission for CIFF is to have it truly represent what Calgary is now and is becoming — not the stereotype of what Calgary is — the open-minded, party-loving, film-going world of citizens here. My experience, from the High Performance Rodeo, too, is that Calgarians aren’t conservative as an audience — they’re really open-minded, they want to know what’s going on, they’re well-travelled, well-read, well-educated, they’re discerning viewers of film…. I was just talking to some folks last night who were saying what great audiences there are in Calgary for film — and the thing that’s really exciting is that there’s such a diversity in interest here. There’s more interest in documentary films in Calgary than in most places, and there’s a huge community for horror and other genre films. The late shows do really well, and there’s this great appetite for foreign language films by leading global directors…. Calgary almost has this dream audience and CIFF’s job is to live up to what the audience is hoping to see the festival be.
What are you most looking forward to seeing yourself?
One of the films from the Spotlight on Japan — I’m Flash! by Toyoda Toshiaki. That’s one of the lead films I’m really excited about in there.
I’m personally really looking forward to one of our headliners, a film called NO, which is about the ad campaign that helped bring down General Pinochet in Chile — it’s not a documentary, it’s a narrative feature that tells that story.
And, I love genre films and horror, and there are a couple of films in there I’m looking forward to, especially Citadel and V/H/S.