Interview with David Aboussafy, Co-Founder and Co-Director Vancouver Badass Film Festival

The VBASFF Celebrates new genre films from local and emerging filmmakers. The fest has horror (lots!!!) noir, superheroes, dark comedy, gore, naughtiness and so much more!

I recently sat down with David Aboussafy to talk more about the festival: 

Matthew Toffolo: What is the Badass Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

David Aboussafy: The Badass Festival breaks down walls, and champions the best in new extreme cinema. Our festival provides emerging and extreme filmmakers a venue to screen their films and to connect with fans, other filmmakers, industry, media, funders and distributors, bringing attention and audiences to compelling original work in style and content. Badass 2015 was a completely sold out showcase of new extreme film with a focus on emerging filmmakers. One Badass 2015 short film El Gigante subsequently went on to win numerous awards around the world and, along with another Badass 2015 short, The Promise/ AlphaMem, are being developed into feature films. Another Badass 2015 film, Swingers Anonymous went on to Cannes and a fully funded feature film for the film’s director. Fans and investors who engaged with filmmakers at Badass 2015 and have helped fund filmmakers’ current projects. In addition, some currently active filmmaking teams met and formed at Badass 2015.

The Second Annual Vancouver Badass Film Festival (Badass 2016), continues to celebrates the new, the different, the shocking, the memorable and upsetting in style and content. Why extreme cinema? We champion unsettling films because they don’t pander to us – their style and subject matter challenge us. To embrace them is to engage something worth hanging onto. The different, the disturbing, can establish their own authority. While the audience for truly bold filmmaking might start small, the extreme may be what endures while the run of the mill are forgotten. Badass films also of course have a premium on straight up attention-grabbing fun and visceral excitement.

The Vancouver Badass Film Festival philosophy is one of breaking down barriers between fans and filmmakers, and between filmmakers, collaborators, funders and distributors. Badass 2016 will have a significantly expanded program including the premieres of select features and shorts programs split into local and international sections with juried awards and a gala. Badass 2016 will include Luchagore Productions new film Madre de Dios, Gautier Casaneuve’s House of VHS from France, Izzy Lee’s Innsmouth and Postpartum from the US. Evening feature premiere’s include Mexico’s Atroz from writer/director Lex Ortega, and Canada’s The Evil in Us from writer/director Jason William Lee and Sandcastle Productions.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival?

David: To paraphrase a tagline from one of our favorite Vancouver theatres, they would get a festival experience they can’t download, and one that is much more entertaining and interactive than the usual staid film festival. They will get exposure to a diverse range of great, compelling new films in a carnival-like atmosphere thick with enthusiastic fans, as well as accessible filmmakers and genre film performers. Badass 2016 is hosted by hugely entertaining and unique performers who themselves alone would be well worth the price of admission. Tristan Risk, Samantha Mack and Mister Nickel are the festival MCs, ringleading events such as a twisted Oscar-style awards gala, gonzo film discussions, red carpet photos, post screening Q & As, and some awesome surprises. Special guests speakers include Director Gigi Saul Guerrero and key cast and crew from The Evil in Us, as well as some high profile speakers were are not able to announce in advance. Badass 2016 home VIFF/Vancity Theatre is also fully licensed and you can bring alcoholic drinks with you to your seat.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

David: Badass films are new films produced or released in 2015 or later, that meet our definition of extreme or unsafe cinema (which can encompass the avant-garde as well as genres such as horror, noir, SF/fantasy, and wild action); in short, exciting films that are highly original in content and/or style (preferably both), from anywhere in the world. No boring-to-look-at, safe, sappy rom-coms or earnest predictable dramas, please.

Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

David: Yes, certainly at both a funding and large festival level, the traditional funding agencies in Canada have long favoured a type of very safe, predictable film making (often from the same filmmakers). As a result, the big festivals they sponsor and fill with their films tend to be rather dull and uninspiring. This conservatism and caution also typifies most films funded and produced in the vertically integrated and risk-aversive studio system. Even the older independent film festivals have been trending toward safer and safer content, leaving more extreme new films out in the cold, and geniuses like the Soska sisters and Gigi Saul Guerrero on the outside looking in.

Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

David: The Badass festival was formed to fill the gap left by the traditional festivals, and to meet the needs of new, original extreme filmmakers, which includes giving them and their fans a place to party their asses off together in a celebratory environment. We want to create a festival that supports, encourages and showcases the most exciting new films and filmmakers. In addition, we want to provide fans of such films and performers a truly exciting and engaging festival experience. In the crowdfunding era, fan engagement can be funder engagement, and we at Badass are also motivated to foster innovation and collaboration between filmmakers, producers, fans, funders and distributors.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

David: In our first year, the Vancouver Badass Film Festival was a short film festival. In this our second year, we have grown to include, feature film premieres, new sponsors and events, and have greatly expanded our short film program.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

David: We at Badass are big fans of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, a multi-week genre film festival with a lively distribution and co-production market. We have set a very ambitious goal of eventually developing Badass into something like that. However, it’s still relatively early days for us; in the next four years we would like to continue to grow with respect to programming, sponsors, and fan and filmmaker engagement, with a longer and even more engaging festival. By 2020, if that sales and distribution method is still viable, we would like to host an international genre film and co-production market to coincide with the festival. Additionally, we would also like the Vancouver Badass Film Festival to be on the vanguard of new approaches as funding, production, distribution and sales models continue to rapidly change.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

David: As a child, I saw Star Wars many, many times. This past year, I have seen Mad Max: Fury Road three times in the theatre, and I would see it again right now.

Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

David: A great film is one you can’t look away from, shows you something new, and one that you can’t forget.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

David: Vancouver is home of the third largest television and film industry in North America, with a multitude of experienced professional crew and an abundance of acting talent. Vancouver is also the home of a very vibrant independent and genre film community, with many active gifted filmmakers, as well as supportive venues such as the Rio Theatre, and the VIFF/Vancity Theatre.



Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Alexanderson Bolaño De La Lanza, Festival Director CineDeporte

If you like sports films this is the place for you!

Their aim is to be one of the best sports film festival around the world!
Their vibe and philosophy is simple! The present your film, and show it to their audiences!
Showcasing the very best sport films made during the year!

If you are looking for a venue where you can sell your film, promote in the south of México, this is your fest!

Matthew Toffolo interviews Festival Director Alexanderson Bolaño De La Lanza:

Matthew: What is the goal of your film festival?

Alexanderson: To promote sports films.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception until your upcoming 2015 festival?

Alexanderson: The way in which we present films is different, now we are using new technologies to not print DVDS and preserve nature, also our awards are different, this time we have invited judges. Our audience awards are the same as last year. (most voted wins)

Matthew: How many films are you showcasing at your Film Festival?

Alexanderson: We will screen 15 films this season.

Matthew: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to except for the 2015 Festival?

Alexanderson: You are going to see Latin American premieres, new directors and emerging talent. New stuff.

Matthew: Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2015 festival other than sports?

Alexanderson: Sport theme. Thats our theme.

Matthew: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Alexanderson: I don´t know if there is going to be a festival in 5 years. However, if there is, keeping the premieres that’s what people like, to see something for the first time, maybe more filmmakers attend, and more audiences thats always important.

As far as the vision, I would like to position the festival as one of the coolest film festivas around for sport films. Why not? Even make it of some relevancy for better awards, maybe we can be the first sports festival that nominates for the Oscars or something like that. I think positioning is the best step we can have at the moment… Be one of the best.

Matthew: What’s the current status of the Film Scene in your city?

Alexanderson: The production is big, we have some great films made in Oaxaca, just like Nacho Libre with Joe Black, people seem to like the city.

As far as independent filmmaking, we have many young people making their first films with go pros and other costumer base cameras.

There are professionals making films, documentaries and why not sport films, and many people come down to make even more. So I would say there is some scene, is not bigger than Portland, I would compare to the states that way,

Plus there is another film festival call Oaxaca film fest and those guys are monsters for independent filmmaking in Latin america. It’s emerging yes, but I think they do a great work `promoting their films.

As far as resources from the film commission, its easy to find the permits and ways to work a film out, I would say Oaxaca is a nice place to shoot, there are many resources available, there are oceans, jungles, valleys and the city is not that bad it self, but there is much to do as far as incentives from the government, thats what, as far as I know, we don’t have jet.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Alexanderson: Marathon films, those are a lot.

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Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes, Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Go to and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.