Batman on the big screen – an inside look at this week’s Spark [FWD] film fest

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Visitors to the city might not know this, and it’s something even a lot of Vancouverites aren’t aware of. But our little town is a last stop in the production line for many of Hollywood’s biggest movies.

Ender’s Game, Man of Steel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla are just a few of the blockbusters that have passed through the city’s visual effects studios on their way to the cineplex. Some industry watchers say that visual effects has surpassed videogames to become one of the city’s most lucrative cultural industries.

Spark [FWD], which runs Feb. 5-9, celebrates the city’s reputation as a VFX hub with a conference, a festival and a job fair. And the event begins tonight with a Batman theme.

To kick off the fest, author, comics fan and long-time Batman executive producer Michael Uslan will talk about acquiring the film rights to the superhero in 1979 to the culmination of that deal with the 1989 Tim Burton production of Batman through to Christopher Nolan’s hugely successful Dark Knight trilogy. (We’re not sure if Uslan will address 1997’s notoriously awful Batman & Robin).

A special 25th anniversary 9 p.m. screening of Burton’s 1989 Batman follows Uslan’s 7 p.m. presentation at Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour St.).

Other festival highlights include 3D screenings of recent special effects blockbusters as Pacific Rim and Jurassic Park, all at Vancity Theatre. And on Sunday, Feb. 9, the theatre has a full day of programming scheduled, including 3D versions of The Wizard of Oz, Creature From the Black Lagoon and House of Wax. The latter two will be accompanied by talks from film instructor Stan Hyde.

Also on Sunday, Michael van den Bos, who teaches the History of Character Animation at Capilano University in North Vancouver, will introduce the 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

For info on screening times and tickets visit sparkfx.ca.

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