As the Vancouver International Film Festival wraps on Friday, it is the "end of an era" for its screenings in the Granville 7 cinemas, artistic director Alan Franey says.

The cinema that has been a central hub for VIFF stayed open long enough for the 2012 festival to finish with the screening of Holy Motors Friday night, but then it closes permanently.

'If we  think about the future of quality cinema and we define that as being more than just Hollywood films, we all need to take note of these closures of cinemas. It is a concern'— VIFF's Alan Franey

The closing does not mean the end of the film festival, but it is a "significant event" for VIFF and for Vancouver’s history, Franey said.

"This is a challenge, but it’s one that we will be able to address," he said.  "There are other venues. There’s nothing like the Granville 7 that we’ll be able to use in the downtown core, though."

Franey argues Vancouver’s downtown needs more cinema screens. The Granville 7 was ideal in part for its central location, near hotels and with a concentration of screens under one roof.

VIFF is in talks with several other spaces, including Vogue and SFU Woodward, but may have to spread its screenings further afield in future years, he said.

The VIFF centre itself, which opened in 2005, has only one screen, while the festival screens more than 300 films annually with an emphasis on quality documentaries and a notable program dedicated to emerging Asian directors.

High real estate costs, the changing character of Vancouver’s entertainment district and the loss of cinema revenue as consumers opt for entertainment from other sources, including the internet, are all playing a role in loss of movie screens, Franey said.

"If we  think about the future of quality cinema and we define that as being more than just Hollywood films, we all need to take note of these closures of cinemas. It is a concern," he said, adding that other large cities with high real estate values provide incentives to keep screens open, because it can contribute to quality of life.

VIFF closes Friday with a gala screening of Holy Motors, Leos Carax’s tricky, dreamlike trip through Paris.

The Vancouver festival presented its $10,000 Canadian film award Friday night to Jason Buxton of Nova Scotia for Blackbird.

Other winners:

  • Rogers People's Choice Award: The Hunt, directed by Thomas Vinterberg.
  • Most popular Canadian film: Becoming Redwood, directed by Jesse James Miller.
  • Most popular international documentary: Nuala, directed by Patrick Farrelly and Kate O'Callaghan.
  • Canadian short film: Float by Juan Riedinger of B.C.

The Dragons & Tigers Award, a $5,000 juried award for an emerging Asian director, went to Li Luo of China for his comedy Emperor Goes to the Hell.