Talking Movies With One of Vancouver’s Most Esteemed Cinephiles

Just as the Vancouver International Film Festival was about to kick off its 37th edition, we got a hold of Shaun Seihachi Inouye, Programming Associate at The Cinematheque, to pick his brain on a few film-related topics. Inouye is a featured speaker at the upcoming special edition of PechaKucha Vol. 46 (October 18th), which is in partnership with VIFF. He’s also a decent guy.

What is your neighbourhood and what makes it home? Little Mountain. The trifecta of veggie restaurants, Red Cat, and my wife make it homey.

Your neighbourhood haunt? The Arbor, stuffing my face with that grilled artichoke sandwich.

Your first film memory? Lucas (1986), which was taped off TV, missing its title credits, and forever known in my family as “Glasses Kid” (written on the VHS by my mom).

Favourite theatre snack? Noiseless gummies.

The film that made the biggest impact on you as a child? White Fang (1991). It was the first time I’d cried from being happy. (I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a dog-reunited-with-his-person sob fest – at least, for a nine-year-old wimp.)

The film that made the biggest impact on you as an adult? As a young adult, circa 13, Larry Clark’s KIDS (1995) was revelatory. My friends and I were obsessed with it, probably because it didn’t pussyfoot around, or moralize, the kinds of no-longer-kid stuff we were getting into. It felt so genuine, so real. It changed my understanding of cinema and its capacity for authenticity.

The actor who you would like to portray you in your biopic? Prince.

What is your current soundtrack? Current soundtrack to my life? Cocteau Twins are on heavy rotation at the moment.

What is your hidden talent? Hidden only to those outside my karaoke coterie, I do a mean rendition of Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything for Love” when the booze-to-confidence ratio is just right.

Your favourite theatre in the world (besides the Cinematheque)? TIFF Lightbox is pretty nice.

A sequel that you would like to see (that doesn’t already exist)? I could go for a fourth Before movie.

A sequel that you wish had never been made? I could do without all the other Alien movies.

The biggest theatre faux pas, in your opinion? To those with stinky feet, leave your dang shoes on.

My most cherished film-viewing experiences have all been in theatres, with audiences, rapt in full attention. That aesthetic immersion, and sense of community (or communion), is why cinemas are so important.

What film event do you get most excited about each year and why? TIFF. I’ve got 10 dedicated days to watch as much as humanly possible.

Your top flick pick for a first date? The Green Ray (1986).

How about for a solo cry in a dark theatre? Mouchette (1967).

What do you watch when you need a pick-me-up? Old Joy (2006), a perfect film.

Your guilty pleasure film? Any terrible UFO “documentary” on Netflix.

What exactly is involved in your role as a “Programming Associate”? I program films, essentially. I work closely with Jim Sinclair, The Cinematheque’s Executive & Artistic Director, to determine what’s vital – and viable – to bring to Vancouver, driven by a mandate to advance the understanding and appreciation of cinema as an historical art form. Ample research, writing, emails, and film coordination follows.

How did you get involved with The Cinematheque? While at grad school, I volunteered. Then I slowly, methodically rose up the ranks.

What was the film or experience that made you decide to pursue something film-related as a career? No one, light-bulb moment, really. I mean, I’ve been pursing an interest in film, without any clear-cut “career” ambitions, since my early teens. Nutshell timeline: I made shitty art movies in high school (“movies” is generous); I went to ACAD, then dropped out; I worked a dead-end job (that I loved) at a local video store; I went to UVic, minored in Film Studies; I completed an MA in Film Studies at UBC, then promptly bailed on academia; I got a job at The Cinematheque, which mercifully segued into a career.

Vancouver’s theatre landscape has changed quite dramatically over the past decade or so. What do you predict it will look like in the next ten years? Hard to say. I expect the “ecosystem” to remain diverse, that independent theatres (read: non-Cineplex) will still be alive and curating alternative cinemas for Vancouverites. But it is disconcerting that we’re down to three – us, VIFF, and the Rio – with The Hollywood pending.

With films being so readily available online, why do you think it’s still important to have movie theatres? My most cherished film-viewing experiences have all been in theatres, with audiences, rapt in full attention. That aesthetic immersion, and sense of community (or communion), is why cinemas are so important.

With so many films, how do you decide what to see? I try to mitigate the bad ones by sticking to recommendations, either from critics, colleagues, or friends. But most often, my job dictates what I watch.

What’s your favourite resource for film reviews? Metacritic, I suppose.

What are your ideal movie theatre conditions (i.e. time of day, solo or in a group, etc.)? Morning, freshly caffeinated, solo or with my trusted film cohort (known collectively as “docclub”).

Which three films are you most compelled to see at this year’s VIFF? Long Day’s Journey into Night; Coincoin and the Extra-Humans; Happy as Lazzaro.

Your life, so far, in three films? The Squid and the Whale (2005); Goodbye, First Love (2011); After Life (1998).

How do you want to be remembered? Honestly, just for being a decent guy.

There is 1 comment

  1. I can vouch for the decent guy bit as well as one of the most passionate cinephiles I know! Great interview.

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