You can sense it all around you. Victoria is feeling the growing pains of becoming a 'city' instead of a small town. Some people like it, some not so much. The fact is, if history is any indicator, it's going to happen. If you are a 'cup half full' type of person, you know that some very cool things come along with this growth. The Victoria International Film Festival is one of those very cool things.

The Victoria Advocate reports that nearly 40 films will be shown during the festival's four-day period. Also, free matinee screenings will be the fare at Victoria College, while featured films will be shown at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.

Documentary Program Director Xavier Rashid, from the United Kingdom, wanted the audience to express their true emotions about the film, even if they're less than favorable.

"You don't need to love every single film. You just need to look beyond the norm," Rashid told the crowd before the feature film, "This Way of Life," began.

He added that people from five countries were represented in Victoria.

Anthony Pedone, the festival's brainchild, wanted to start an international exchange in his hometown. The 41-year-old filmmaker said, "I hope to see the seats filled every night."

Even if he doesn't reach that goal, he considered the film festival a success because of the overwhelming community participation and support.

But Thursday's screenings at the Johnson Symposium were modest.

"It's hard to get students to come, even if it's free," said Lisa DeVries, the college's film club adviser. She said she does anticipate a larger turnout on Friday.

For more information, go to vtxiff.com.