Applause for Vancouver Queer Film Festival’s iPhone app

It’s almost time for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and I’m impressed with the iPhone app that Creative B’stro made for the festival. After being held up for approval by the App Store because of “adult content” it was released a few days later than planned.

I like it a lot. After seeing several conference apps that miss the mark, I’m really impressed by the content, the possibility of encouraging social interaction during the festival, and how it uses the iPhone interface.

Content

As expected, you can search films and parties and add them to your schedule. In addition to adding a film to your schedule, you can email a friend an invite, vote for the film, find out venue information and watch a trailer. FAQs are listed in the Info Booth and you can scroll through the entire festival guide.

There’s also a link to Out on Screen’s photo sets on Flickr, which would make for interesting browsing while waiting in line, for friends, or for a film to start.

Encourages social interactions

VQFF is one of my favourite social environments in Vancouver. I see old friends and meet a diverse group of new folks. There’s great films, interesting programming (like bathroom burlesque, living screen installation, various artists in residence), and great parties. This app encourages social interactions in several ways.

You can bump your phone to see how compatible you are with someone else. This compatibility rating is based on how similar your film and party schedules are.   At the bottom of the results, in small print, it says:

Please note: This compatibility test is only slightly more accurate than your average horoscope. We recommend using your own judgment when it comes to gauging true compatibility–unless, of course, you’re a Gemini. In that case, you need all the help you can get.

There’ s a treasure hunt with 10 pink Xs marked on a map. I uncovered one of the treasures and want to “dig” for the other 9. It’s a fun, slightly geeky adventure that you could do by yourself, or with other people. I can imagine asking friends (and strangers) what booty they’ve found.

There’s also links to the VQFF Facebook fan page, Twitter, and Youtube accounts where there’s current content.

Uses iPhone interface well

I’ve been disappointed with some other iPhone apps that don’t have a point, or   use iPhone functionality poorly. The VQFF app gets it right.

In addition to using bump to calculate your compatibility with someone else, you can shake your phone to generate a new pickup line. The pickup lines range from cute, funny, cheesy, and mildly offensive. I also like the Urban Spoon app, where you can shake your phone to spin slot machine type wheels to find a restaurant review. Shaking my phone is more fun than pressing a button on the screen.

This app uses location aware services appropriately and effectively. There are maps to venues (with an unfortunate typo ‘3 kilometer’) and a treasure hunt.

You can flick through past festival posters like browsing album artwork with cover flow. I imagine that this is another thing to look at while killing time.

Well done VQFF and Creative B’stro on making a great iPhone app for the festival. This has got me thinking about ways that libraries could create useful, fun, and social apps for smart phones. More on that soon…

Bill C-10 sucks

Last night I learned that buried in an omnibus bill, C-10, there are provisions for the Minister of Heritage to develop guidelines for the sorts of Canadian films and TV shows that will be eligible for production tax credits.

In an article from the Globe and Mail Tories plan to withhold funding for ‘offensive’ productions Toronto lawyer David Zitzerman of Goodmans LLP says the government’s plans smack of à ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã…”closet censorship.à ¢Ã¢”š ¬ 

Would this committee put money into Juno? It might not want to encourage teen pregnancy. Would the government put money into a film with a dirty title, like Young People Fucking? Would they invest in something like Brokeback Mountain? They might not want to encourage gay cowboys to have sex together in Alberta.

Both the content and process suck.A   I don’t want civil servants deciding what kind of TV and film should be allowed to be made.A   It also sucks that a controversial item has been slipped into a sprawling 600-page bill on income tax.A   It seems to have slipped by theA   media until February 28th.A   In a CBC article states, Bill Siksay, heritage critic for theA  NDP, said he did not know about this amendment when he voted for the 600-page bill Artists call Tory plan to vet films ‘censorship’ (CBC) .

I know it’s been a long week, but please make the time to write:

  • write to your MP (even though the bill has passed the House of Commons and is in the Senate)
  • It would be good to also copy your letter to Senator Larry Campbell (who is against this bill campbl@sen.parl.gc.ca)
  • W. David Angus (anguswd@sen.parl.gc.ca) the Chair of the Senate Committee on Bank, Trade and Commerce
  • Mobina Jaffer (jaffem@sen.parl.gc.ca), a BC Senator who sits on this Committee
  • Josee Verner (Verner.J@parl.gc.ca) Minister of Heritage
  • Robert Nicholson (Nicholson.R@parl.gc.ca) Minister of of Justice

Also join the Facebook group: Keep your censoring hands off of Canadian film and TV! No to Bill C-10.

film ratings

I watched a documentary on TV called Indie Sex: Censored. I thought it was going to be extremely trashy, but it turned out to be only somewhat trashy. I was slightly disappointed but it got me thinking about the bigger environment that Canadian libraries are situated in.

Indie Sex looked at the different actors (film makers, producers, large movie theaters, distributors, ratings board) and how censorship has changed in recent history. The film makers, Lisa Ades and Lesli Klainberg, argue that most mainstream movie theater chains will not screen films that have been rated NC-17 and that movie studios and directors will tone down their films so that they are commercially profitable. They also argue that sexual content is more controversial with the ratings board than violence. They note that frontal male nudity almost automatically receives an NC-17 rating, while female frontal nudity does not.

The film has some great interviews, including one with John Cameron Mitchel, director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus. Shortbus, a story about various characters negotiating sex and love in New York, was released as unrated as it had various comical, touching, and hot, sex scenes.

I believe that Canadian ratings are slightly different from the US, can someone who does collection development let me know how it works for DVDs in your library?