With their tickets at the ready, dozens of movie fans packed the Victoria Conference Centre on Saturday night ? for the North American premiere of a new feature film.

“You never get a chance to see movies like this,” explained Kelsey van Pelt, who couldn’t wait to watch the flick.

The Victoria Film Festival’s iconic pink carpet led the way to the big screen ? and the infamous ‘Littlefinger.’

“We’re big fans of Aidan Gillen,” said movie-goer Cassandra Pexton. “We love Game of Thrones.”

Gillen, who plays Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on Game of Thrones, attended the screening of his new film “Pickups” along with director Jamie Thraves.

While you won’t find any fire-breathing dragons in the Irish actor’s new film, there are some dark moments in a piece that explores the expectations, and misconceptions of celebrity.

“It’s a bit of a different take on life as an actor,” van Pelt explained.

Drawing internationally acclaimed actors and filmmakers like Gillen attests to the growing success of the film festival.

Now in its 24th year, the event is Vancouver Island’s biggest and longest-running film festival, which is expected to draw 23,000 attendees this year.

From animated shorts to feature films and documentaries, there are more than 110 films screening at multiple venues throughout the city.

“I think it’s good for people to see films that maybe aren’t the type that would come out at Cineplex,” said festival supporter Kate Adams. “It’s good to get an idea of what people are doing in the medium because there is some really innovative stuff going on.”

The festival showcases an array of independent cinema that covers current and controversial conversations.

“It’s a broad sweep of film options that you don’t normally get exposure to,” explained movie fan, Leslie Gordon. “I love coming to it.”

That love for cinema and the Capital City is a feeling shared by the stars attending the event.

“Victoria is really beautiful,” said actor and director Cory Bowles. “I love the architecture, the people and the festival is cool.”

The 24th Annual Victoria Film Festival runs until Feb. 11.

A full schedule of screening times and venues can be found here. 

Ceilidh Millar