Flashback Film Festival with Cineplex’s Brad LaDouceurJanuary 29, 2018
The Flashback Film Festival (formerly The Great Digital Film Festival) is back, running from February 2-8 and is Canada’s only coast-to-coast film festival. Fifteen different films from the 80’s and 90’s that will appeal to both kids and adults alike, bringing back some fond memories or creating new ones. Recently, we had a chance to talk to Brad LaDouceur, Vice President of Event Cinema for Cineplex and part of the team that picks the great films for this festival.
So how did you get involved with the Flashback Film Festival?
Brad: Well Flashback, formerly called The Great Digital Film Festival, started nine years ago and as cinemas were converting to digital cinema we were thinking about how could we resurrect a series, like the one we used to go to back in the eighties at the Cinesphere, the old 70MM festival that they used to run, and how do we use this great new technology on these massive sixty foot screens, and bring all of these remastered classics to the big screen. So that’s how Great Digital Film Fest got started and then over the years digital became very common and so we thought it was time to revitalize it a bit and came up with the idea of Flashback so that it’s not just one genre, it really is a mix from many different genres.
When you’re picking the films for the festival, do you have a theme in mind or are there just certain criteria that you follow?
Brad: It has to be studio remastered so we’re working with all of our studio partners from Sony, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Fox and talking to them first about what’s been recently remastered , what’s an anniversary title, what might be relevant in pop culture currently so we might come up with a hundred pictures. We try hard not to overly repeat things we’ve done in the past but maybe pull out a fan favorite like Back to the Future and put it back in and then find new titles that we’ve never done in the festival.
One of the films that stuck out for me when I was looking at your list was A View to a Kill. I know we lost Roger Moore this year but it’s an interesting film, with Christopher Walken and Grace Jones facing off against Moore’s Bond.
Brad: I agree and it was Grace Jones, because she was in the news, and so we said yeah, we should do A View to a Kill, Duran Duran does the theme song, they’re one of my favorites and really, it was that kind of discussion that led to us saying absolutely, A View to a Kill is the one we should do. If we wanted to get a little cheeky we could have done Moonraker but we’re happy with our decision. We were always going to recognize Moore in the festival after his passing last May, so it was just a question of what film were we going to choose.
The whole nostalgia surrounding the 80’s and 90’s seems to be at an all-time high these days. In terms of the festival, do you find that fans still can’t get enough of this or has there been rumblings of people getting tired of this format?
Brad: It’s funny because this time of year, we’re heading into March and the release of Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and it’s all about the eighties pop culture. Ernest Kline’s book is just filled with it, with so many references and it’s why we picked five different pictures that are being featured in the upcoming film. So if you’ve never seen War Games on the big screen with Matthew Broderick, now’s your chance. That’s why Back to the Future is there, Gremlins, The Iron Giant, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, those five features are in the book and in the film. When it comes to the 80’s in terms of movies, people will still go out and see it on the big screen, that’s why Terminator is there, so we’re always looking at what came out that year.
I saw you had the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg trilogy, as well as the first two Terminator movies. Is that something you always try to do at the Flashback Film Festival, let the fans enjoy two or three movies from a franchise on the same day?
Brad: Yes, we always try to do some sort of trilogy, we’ve done Lord of the Rings, we’ve done an X-Men day with five X-Men pictures and we’ve done all three Back to the Futures in the past as well. We love Edgar Wright so for us it was how do we showcase the Cornetto Trilogy and put them all back to back to back and we’re working with E-one to get those films and to see if they’re all remastered and digital and if they have been released digitally. We think you get a little bit of laughter and romance, the comedy is fantastic throughout those pictures and it was like ok, that’s our Saturday special.
I noticed a few of the films are having anniversaries, War Games, it’s 35th anniversary, Drunken Master it’s 40th. Is there a secret to these movies that made them so enduring, even today?
Brad: Well you mentioned Drunken Master, and for a lot of fans if you’re a fan of Jackie Chan then great, this is one of his early action comedies but it’s also Woo-Ping Yuen’s film from 1978 and a lot of people don’t realize he did all the action choreography on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and so for us it’s like, how do we showcase these great directors and show fans, and we were lucky that it was remastered, what it was like to experience one of these pictures back in 1978,
It was great to see Dune make your list this year. Was that always a conscious choice to have that at this year’s festival?
Brad: It was because we know there has been so much talk about David Lynch over the last year and his revitalizing Twin Peaks. Also, we know that the film is being remade, Denis Villeneuve is doing it and it’s going to go into production soon, and so we thought what a great chance for fans to see the original. It’s just such a massive cast and just one of those epic science fiction films, based on the novel by Frank Herbert, something many, many people have read. The movie wasn’t an overly wide release back then, so for us it was like hey, let’s get it across the country and feature at the festival.
As a fan of these films yourself, and someone who has to help pick certain ones for the festival, are you often conflicted about what you, in fact, end up choosing?
Brad: I let my team do the majority of the picking per say, then I go yeah, that’s great, that’s great too, and I support their decision. You know, I’m very close to The Big Lebowski, it’s been around with me for twenty years and I wanted to see it in the festival and they said great, can we pair it up with Raising Arizona, and I said perfect. Those are two great films, watched back to back, by the Coen Brothers.
One of the great things about this festival, besides me getting to see some of these films again on the big screen, is introducing my kids to some really classic movies. With so many factors to consider, just how hard is it to get the list down to the final fifteen movies?
Brad: You know, like I mentioned earlier, we start with around one hundred pictures and then strike out the ones that just aren’t available digitally or theatrically at this time, and so that gets it down to about thirty pictures and then it’s about pairing them, thinking ok, what would make a great back to back night? When we try to create that schedule we’re looking at hey, if you’re going to go see one film, why not go see a second? Why not see a matinee of the Iron Giant and then see Back to the Future on the same day? Monty Python and the Holy Grail has always been a great late show so let’s make sure we give it a late show slot, so for us, it’s about scheduling and how many pictures can we get in without doing too many repeats.
The Flashback Film Festival is showing right across Canada, correct?
Brad: Yes, it’s in twenty-seven cities, February 2nd to 8th, fifteen films total. Tickets start at $8.99 but if people are really interested and want to see all the films they can pay $75, which works out to $5 per movie.
Ok, so what would you say to someone, single, couple, family, to peak their interest enough to want to check out the festival?
Brad: Well, I’m going to go back to what you started with, which was A View to a Kill, and seeing one of the great James Bond pictures. A lot of the Sean Connery Bond films are showcased on a regular basis, we all know about Daniel Craig, but to see that era with Roger Moore playing Bond, I would say if you’ve got teenagers and you want to go out for a fun afternoon, I would say A View to a Kill is a great choice. Gremlins is a lot of fun if people haven’t seen it and then I would probably say that Raising Arizona is probably the most accessible of the Coen Brothers films and I think Nicolas Cage gives one of his best performances.
I want to thank Brad for taking the time to talk with us.