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VanWebFest 3 Draws Web Series Makers to Vancouver

Excitement is mounting as the days draw closer to the third annual Vancouver Web Fest, set to take place on March 18-20 at Performance Works on Granville Island.

The festival, which is touted as Canada’s Premier International Web Festival, celebrates the progressive evolution of entertainment and programming created exclusively for the Internet. In a day and age where technology rules society, a festival dealing only with online content satisfies a need in the market but also plays the role of pioneer for new and innovative art.

Although VWF is still relatively new to the scene, it is quickly turning heads and establishing itself as a trailblazer in the web entertainment arena.

“We’ve had submissions from 22 countries,” says Suzette Laqua, the energetic and passionate Founder and Executive Director of the Festival.

“The quality of submissions is phenomenal compared to our first year,” she adds. “A lot of studios have submitted with their independents and that is pretty exciting because you don’t see them reaching out to other festivals.”

Recent recognitions and accolades across the globe, ranging from Singapore to New York and even Los Angeles itself indicate the festival has truly arrived.

“With the hype internationally from overseas and even domestically with the CBC, people are excited about being an official selection at VanWebFest and participating in the festival," says Laqua. "That is what we are hearing people say, ‘We are going to Vancouver and VanWebFest, this is the Festival we want to get into’”.

So, what can participants expect from #VWF2016 ?

The three-day calendar is jam-packed with industry events, panel and roundtable discussions, workshops, networking opportunities, parties – not to mention amazing series to watch in an energetic and fun environment.

“A three-day pass to the Festival includes workshops with industry professionals including Adobe, Altman and Company and TELUS. There will be an Out TV panel, a comedy panel and a Jameson-sponsored party Saturday night, screening Kevin Spacey digital shorts,” says Laqua.

New to this year’s festival as well will be a ‘speed dating’-style event where participants can pitch their ideas to the likes of the CBC, Brightlight Studios, Daily Motion and dotstudioPRO.
(Exec. Director Suzette Laqua and Director of Development Paula Hoffmann at the 2014 Leo Awards. Photo by Katja De Bock)

Industry pundits will also be thrilled to know that Ron Howard’s company, New Form Digital is on board as the Festival keynote speaker. As well, Emmy Award-winning Bernie Su will also be providing a keynote address to festival attendees.

If all of this wasn’t enough, VWF has commissioned a unique and specially designed trophy for anyone who is lucky enough to win one of the coveted awards.

“The trophy at the awards gala is custom designed by Swarovski of Austria, presented by Sparkling Hills Resorts. The trophies are being made only for Vancouver Web Fest,” says Laqua.

Diamonds? Films? Parties? People? It seems this festival has it all.

“We are trying to be the Cannes of web fests,” boasts Laqua with confidence. It seems they are certainly on their way.

What to watch for:

If attending the Festival, be sure to check out these web series, all of which are generating tons of hype.

Number of Silence from Germany. This is up for awards in the Director, Mystery/Thriller, Cinematography, Sound Design and Special/Visual Effects categories. 

Couch Surfers from the USA. This is up for awards in the Comedy, Actor (Jackson Rathbone), Actress (Sarah Clarke) and Screenplay categories.

Coded from Vancouver which is up for Best Drama and Best Actor (Jarod Joseph). This series was made possible with a STORYHIVE grant from TELUS Optik Local Community Programming. Check Episode 1 here:

Special to Reel West by Cory Sterling

Cory Scott Dankner Sterling is a lawyer practicing Entertainment Law in Vancouver with Altman and Company. His love of the arts is matched only for his passion of storytelling.

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