I lost some years to the film festival circuit.
The process, from research to submission to response, can take months, and notice of acceptance usually comes well before the event for good reasons that help organizers and filmmakers plan and prep for attendance. If you choose a range of festivals to pursue, the whole journey can be quite costly in time and resource.
Would I do it again? Definitely.
Obviously, the film festival that forces you on an adventure, apart from strictly online presentations, puts you in physical proximity to others, who can relate. You see your work on the big screen, but also in perspective, in immediate context, buzzing with filmmakers in the flesh.
Take it from Grace, “Experience informs”…
The festival is a shared opportunity and space, where you can test your film’s resonance, your promotional strategies, your own taste and tolerance, where you can find audience and relationships, where you can celebrate your accomplishment and keep exercising the art within. Some festivals are better staffed and scheduled, more tightly focused and assembled, more concerned about your interaction and takeaway, but don’t hesitate.
Go, if you or your film can make it happen.
Just highlighting a few festival gems here bolsters me in that advice and desire to revisit the whole process.
Each one came with different appeal and approach to the event and film evaluation, but all three were class-act festivals that, at least, belong on every independent filmmaker’s shortlist…
Festivals in Europe:
I wrote the following in review of the West Europe International Film Festival which provided an excellent opportunity.
An absolute must for any serious filmmaker…you really get to know the directors, who are a charming, class act and are very accessible, while creating an incredible vibe for everyone… They’ll interview you, introduce you to special guests, and other filmmakers. They provide opportunities for promotion and even publish the magazine, Film Focus… which gives good insight into films before you see them. The week-long festival is well-organized and tightly packed with a great variety of well-exhibited films, but also leaves some free time in the schedule to explore the beautiful host city of Brussels…Everything about this festival oozes respect for film and passionate filmmaker!— Laura J. Carruthers, Director
Festivals in NYC:
My film’s theater premiere in Manhattan was a little less cozy and had me handing out flyers and free tickets up and down the avenues, during a record cold front in April — but it was NYC after all.
Just to have my life’s work screened at the Manhattan Film Festival, for a brief moment, marked a little dream come true, and Phillip Nelson and his staff were well-prepared and organized.
Festivals in Chicago:
Chicago Amarcord Arthouse Fest and Blowup International Arthouse Fest – officially selected Grace Fury.
They didn’t award the film, and I didn’t need it. Their recognition of her alone was enough for me.
“…juries packed with people, who have not only worked in the industry, but who also have a rich ‘depth of field’, if you will…experts who have studied film, the brains and languages that make its history, and the variety of crafts involved…”
Their mission statements communicate noble intent and acceptance of skilled and sincere artistry – from anyone, anywhere, known, unknown, on a big budget or no budget.
We would like to see films made primarily for aesthetic and philosophical reasons…We believe that a story driven by a genuine expression can stimulate new thoughts that have the power to promote the fundamental principles of humanism, expand creative frontiers, stimulate new levels of compassion, and even lead to social change.
The festival is a very important part of the film experience.
It has the power to preserve and to strengthen the fundamental purpose and integrity of film production as an art, as speech – as a meaningful function of the people.
More on this subject next time.