Interview with Festival Director Jerzain Ortega (Author’s International Film Festival)

The FIC AUTOR (Author’s International Film Festival) was  founded in 2016 by filmmaker Jerzain Ortega. The festival is interested in unique and artistic films that exceed the limits of traditional storytelling. Feature and Short Films that reflect the director’s personal creative vision, and a style that is distinct enough to shine through the collective process. The first edition of the FIC AUTOR will take place from November 10 to 17, 2017 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. FIC AUTOR will present the very best films from around the world, and honor our first guest, Cannes Caméra d’Or award winner Michael Rowe.

Go to the website at: http://www.ficautor.com/

 Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Jerzain Ortega: FIC AUTOR makes a very fair selection; we don’t select films
because they have celebrities or a well-known director. Our selection is based on which films are THE BEST, but don’t get me wrong, if a film like “Whiplash” was submitted to the FIC AUTOR, I would accept it, no doubt, because that film is a piece of art, so we are not anti-celebrity, but we are very objective and we won’t be dazzled over a famous face. Also, the filmmaker can feel confident that the jury watched his/her film entirely, because we send the comments from the
jury for free. And we give beautiful rings and trophies made of silver, and we will try our best to sell the films to Mexican distributors.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

JO: A fantastic selection of the best films from around the globe, highly artistic, yet entertaining; a close connection between and with the artists, because everything happens in the same venue; a nice award ceremony open to the public where we will award the best filmmakers of the moment and our first honored guest, Michael Rowe, who will also present his film “Early Winter” and will have a Q&A segment with the
audience.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JO: Directors must have a style that stands out from the others and the stories must be close to original. The market is full of the same crap, thanks to Hollywood. The audience knows exactly how the guy is going to lose and win back his girlfriend in a comedic love story; they know who is going to die first in a horror movie, or when to expect a lazy jump
scare, etc. A good filmmaker, an author, chews all of those clichés and spits them in the sink, way far from his delicious gourmet dish.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

JO: No, I don’t. Film Festivals are business, sounds bad, but they are. And they all earn money from fee submissions and tickets and sponsors and government grants, so most of them, many of them, choose films with a nice cast so they can connect with the audience, sell tickets, have sponsors, increase the tourism –or allow politicians to take their pictures with the stars-, and of course, fabricate the dream almost every filmmaker has, win something and be at the same level of these “great, well-known filmmakers.” But this is bullshit. Every honest filmmaker knows deep inside them, that their dream, our dream, is to have one more night with the audience, in the dark, listening to the laughter, the connection with the characters we create and at the end, hear the applause and feel like an undercover cop hearing the comments on the way out of the theatre. And if you don’t believe me, check the list of the winners of the past editions of the 50 best film festivals, yes you will find a few good ones, but most of them, are public relations, or advertising, or copy-paste selections from other festivals.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

JO: I write a personal email to each filmmaker that submits to the festival. Sometimes this email turns into 10 emails of conversation, most of the filmmakers write me back telling me that it’s very rare to receive a personal letter from a festival director, or that this is the first time a festival treats them like a person. THIS MOTIVATES ME. We built a film festival that treats filmmakers like people and not like
numbers, a festival that is transparent and has its feet on the ground. This is a business, yes, but our business is to celebrate and encourage the emerging and real authors that are out there, to continue making great films. We want to build a festival that every filmmaker in the world can feel proud to participate in.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

JO: The response from the filmmakers has been amazing, we have more than 500 submissions and we expect to have many more. And most of these submissions are an amazing quality.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JO: Here, in Guadalajara, Mexico, but with more sponsors and stronger relationships with distributors so we can help and give more to the FIC AUTOR submitters.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

JO: This one is hard… ROCKY and THE BOURNE IDENTITY, but when I see either of these, I can’t stop; I have to watch the rest of the films from the franchise.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

JO: The passion that flows through the hands of the artists of each of the film departments, who understand and share the unique vision of a talented writer-director.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

JO: Guadalajara has a strong independent filmmaking community that is growing and producing more and more films each year of our own merits. We don’t have too much support; most of the local government budget for cinema goes to filmmakers from Mexico City, so it is unfair, but we are warriors and we don’t sit with our arms crossed. We figure it out and we
continue producing films.

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Jerzain Ortega began his film career as a makeup artist in Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto.” Following this, he studied cinema at Centro de Estudios Cinematográficos INDIe, and worked on a second film as chief makeup artist in Alejandro Ramirez’ “Todos Hemos Pecado.” Later, he financed his first independent film by his own means, “Journal d’un inadapté;” a film made almost entirely by him (one man crew in almost every scene.) He is now producing his second feature film, “Telephone,” a film that will be shot with only one assistant as well. He is also the founder of FIC AUTOR (Author’s International Film Festival.)

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Niall Trask (South London Shorts)

South London Shorts exists for two reasons: to show great films made by independent filmmakers and (through crowdfunding) make sure that more great independent films get made. Every month for an entire year we will show a selection of intriguing, challenging, and exciting short films curated by the team at South London Shorts. Every penny we receive from the community that comes to watch these films is re-invested into making one amazing film at the end of this year. South London Shorts is an entirely not-for-profit, community-lead endeavour. Because of this, it’s our community who gets to decide where the money goes.

southlondonshorts.com

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Niall Trask: We’ve given over 100 filmmakers the chance to see their film shown in front of fresh eyes and a chance to gather feedback afterwards. I think that it can sometimes lead to constructive criticism, but more importantly encourages them to show what has worked. Also, I’d like think we’ve given our audience an impetus to go out and out and make films themselves. We show a huge variety of films, never constrained by the budget, the approach, or the subject. Most importantly though, the festival was started out of our own frustrations in obtaining budgets for short films when they are seen as the way into the “industry’’; we’re the only short film night that funds films and we recently awarded £3.5k to an independent filmmaker based up in Edinburgh, Wayne Mazadza.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

NT: Eclectically curated films, from all over the world including one student film from a Goldmiths University (with whom we’ve recently begun a partnership with), a wildcard film from me (usually fairly out-there) at a great venue: we couldn’t be happier with the Montpellier in Peckham.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NT: The three of us decide on the content and we all have quite different tastes. We pick a handful each and then start building a programme out of our mutual favourites until they sit together nicely. We’ll sometimes chuck in an early short from an established director if we feel like it!

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

NT: Personally, I think films are overlooked because of their budgets. If you serve up a delicious meal, who cares what condition the plate is in?! We make a real effort to consider everything submitted to us. Also, I think women are under-represented as directors. We’ve had nights where every film we’ve screened has been made by a woman, and not even realised until afterwards; maybe this says something about our selection process which differs from other festivals?

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

NT: We experimented with an idea: a film night that funds films, and it worked. We just want to keep building. But genuinely, I look forward to the event more and more every month. I enjoy the social side of it, and seeing people’s work. We take no money from it, just the experience.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

NT: Using FilmFreeway really changed the way we run and has boosted our submission pool to no end. It’s easy to use, it’s a fair price, and it seems to be the platform most filmmakers use to exhibit their work right now.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NT: I hope we’ll have fully launched as a production company and will be getting more people’s projects of the ground. We’d love to screen in multiple venues across South London too; maybe do a few every month.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

NT: Boring answer, sorry: Withnail & I.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

NT: Coach Gordon Bombay returns to manage the Mighty Ducks… joking… A good story in a well captured environment that reminds me I’m a human being.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NT: Living in South London I feel excited most of the time; there’s a demand for DIY filmmakers such as myself and we’re surrounded by lots of different communities – of people motivated to create. Whether it’s music videos, comedy sketches, shorts, or features. Our night is about championing your art form.

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NIALL TRASK is an Anglo-American, raised in Suffolk and now based in Brixton. Niall studied film, spent a few years travelling and working in the Art Dept. on films, whilst building a portfolio of his own work on the side. Highlights include a video collaboration with Animal Collective, extensive touring as a VJ for Middle Eastern-psychedelic band Flamingods and directing left-field short films. Niall is now represented by OB Management as a music video director and works as a freelance VJ, Editor & Production Designer.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Gabbar Punjabi (Lake View International Film Festival)

Lake View Film Festival aims to inspire, motivate and award the true innovative and artistic geniuses of our time. Every independent artist hopes to one day emerge from the underground scene and share their talents with the masses.

http://www.lviff.net/

Interview with the Festival Director:

 Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Gabbar Punjabi: Lake View International Film Festival gives opportunity to independent filmmakers to show their work at a new platform.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

GP: High-Quality Independent films across all genres, from around the world.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

GP: Our platform is designed for independent filmmakers. We accept films from independent filmmakers with strong storytelling, All genre with high-quality films are acceptable.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

GP: Film Festivals receive thousands of entries and out of them only a few films are acceptable. Many of the films face rejection because I think, sometimes filmmakers do not read rules and regulations before submitting their films to
festivals. Also, it is difficult for festivals to show each and every film because of a limited number of screenings, limited time and so many other factors vary from festival to festival. ​

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

GP: Cinema of Punjab is still under a big change, recently one of the Punjabi films was officially selected at Cannes. Our team’s passion toward films motivates us to present a good platform for independent filmmakers to show their work.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

GP: FilmFreeway is really an awesome platform for both filmmakers as well as festivals. This is very easy to access, easy to manage your entries, and so many features which other platforms not yet provide.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

GP: It will become better and better, more numbers of screenings and there is soo many things which we want to do.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

GP: Malena, Thelma and Louise, Water and Qissa

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

GP: A great way of storytelling makes a great film.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

GP: The Punjabi film industry is stuck in film mafias. A very low number of theatres, very few independent venues. But I was told it is under a big change so we still have hopes every year new good independent productions.

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Gabbar Punjabi is a small town boy with loads of ambition. He completed his graduation in life science after which he joined film school and started learning filmmaking. During film course, he wrote and directed three short films. After successfully completing filmmaking course, he moved to Mumbai where he starts working as an assistant director in the television and film industries. In 2014, he started his banner script factory production and started working as an independent filmmaker. He also the Director of Independent film festival Lake View International film Festival.
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Film Review: I AM DYSLEXIC (Norway) Animation/Music Video

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

I AM DYSLEXIC, 6min. Norway, Animation/Music Video

Directed by Mads Johan Ogaard

The animated short film I AM DYSLEXIC expresses what it feels like to have a learning difference in our current school system. Those with learning differences should be proud of who they are and should never be made to feel alone.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

A masterful piece of short cinema is a rare gem. To be truly spectacular a short must do three things exceptionally well: It must tell a compelling and engaging story, it must establish, build and deliver an emotional goal (Comedic or Dramatic) and it must be visually breathtaking. Enter I AM DYSLEXIC, directed and animated by Mads Johan Ogaard. Majestic in its visual metaphors and brave in it’s delivery, I AM DYSLEXIC is a powerful cinematic short that provides all three of these elements. The story is remarkably simple- following the metaphorical journey of two school age children desperately trying to learn literacy through the conventional education model. Instead of following their actual progress, we see them climbing an unfathomable high mountain of books, scattered pages, text and block letters. A vibrant and powerful metaphor, strengthen in part by its simplicity. To anyone who has ever struggled with conventional education, the metaphor is disarmingly accurate. Perhaps this is what elevates the film- the abstract approach to explaining what learning can be like, for those of us who learn differently.

 

Our heroes’ deal with road block after road block, and stumble constantly. There is no easy path, and no well marked trail for their journey. And although there is no dialogue at all, there is a dramatic original musical score “I’m Not Stupid” which aids in epic atmospheric elements to this piece.

 

I AM DYSLEXIC is an emotional powerhouse of a film. Stunningly effective in its representation and utterly unique and transformative in its symbology, this is a film everyone should see. It reminds all the viewers that  unconventional learning is not a crime, and that, pun intended, there are many paths up the same mountain. Despite the difficulty, they all will lead to the top. This reviewer, (a dyslexic, as it happens) gives this film a 10.

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Film Review: GRANDMA: A TRUE STORY (UK) Animation/Family

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERGRANDMA: A TRUE STORY, 5min, UK, Animation/Family
Directed by Viviane Peo’h

A grandmother and a granddaughter love and understand each other truly, without the need for speaking. One day, the grandmother has a stroke and is transported urgently to hospital. There is no hope. As the night gets deeper a miracle is on the way. A true and compassionate story.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Touching and lovingly put together, GRANDMA is one of those stories that will pull on the heartstrings of anyone who has bridged the gap between generations with friendship. This story recounts in heartfelt detail, the relationship our narrator forms as a young girl with her grandmother, before she has a fall in her home and is in danger of passing away in the hospital. Within the same timespan, our narrator, is also put in the hospital after a car accident, where she silently begs God to keep her grandmother alive. The good she has done in the world surely outweighs’ the narrator’s own, and that certainly earns her more time on this planet.

 

It is hard to say what is more touching, the narrative tribute our narrator crafts for her grandmother, or the painstaking time spent on the stop-motion claymation used to animate the tale. Stop-motion is an incredibly time consuming process which requires an enormous amount of attention to details. GRANDMA shows all the signs of an unmistakable labour of love.

 

GRANDMA is one of those shorts that is so clearly built on a foundation on authenticity and love that it is hard to dislike. The style of the piece may be raw, or arguably not as polished looking as a digital counterpart, but there is no lack of story here, and certainly no lack of feeling. A touching piece, indeed.

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Film Review: AFRO CRAB (Taiwan) Animation/Comedy

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERAFRO CRAB, 4min, Taiwan, Animation/Comedy
Directed by Chen Liang Yu

A-SIE,the crab, was watching TV with his friend, the fish. Suddenly, Cook came and took the fish.To save his friend, A-SIE left his comfort zone and fight with Cook!

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Directed by Light Fish Chen, is a film that ties in action, zany larger-than-life characters and comedy together through the adventures of- you guessed it, a Crab with an unusual haircut. All seems well for our hero as he sit sits on the couch with his unmoving and blank-staring Fish companion. However when his friend is seized by a villainous and dastardly chef bent on making a fish-soup, Afro crab must spring into action. What results, is a colourfully bright and high-impact combination of epic fighting between our Hero and the evil Chef.

 

This film packs a colourful and imaginative punch. A special nods must be given to the various ways AFRO CRAB calls back to other well-established children’s animation. Despite the difference in animation style, AFRO CRAB’s character design is slightly reminiscent of SpongeBob Squarepants, and the Ninja-esque fight between our Hero and the evil chef play off many popular anime for children, such as Dragon Ball Z and Kung Fu Panda. Also worth mentioning is the specific type of musical choice for the fight sequences- a distinctive heavy metal piece that re enforces the epic nature of the battle.
In the end, our afro crab is reunited with his fishy friend, but he might have to make do with a slightly altered version. AFRO CRAB is a fun, action packed way to spend a few minutes with anyone you would like to escape with. Enjoy the show!

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Film Review: SISTERS (USA) Animation/Music Video

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

SISTERS, 4min, USA, Animation/Music Video
Directed by David Chontos

A fragment of some lost, tragic opera. Trapped in the ruins of their former glory, a pair of performers bound together and abandoned by time rise up to sing once more. Conjured up by the song to which it’s set, the film represents a sincere vision of inspiration derived from the music of Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray).

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

David Chontos, the writer, director and designer of Sisters, uses If I had a Heart by Fever Ray, to backdrop his stunningly beautiful animated short. Spellingbindingly gorgeous, this piece deals with the reanimation of two robotic marionette sisters, come to life on their rundown vaudevillian stage. Delicately laced with details in every shot and frame, Sisters is a masterful work of animated cinema. Not a single detail is lost in the vivid animation.

 

The tone of the film feels dark, perhaps because of the overtly decadent nature of the setting. Perhaps also, the irony of the song plays a part, as our characters appear closely connected and yet their motives are never completely clear. They come to life very slowly, and them seem to struggle to stay animated. The result is a haunting but graceful dance that is entrancing, although unknowable.  The world of the sisters, as machines, is unfathomable to the audience. There is an undeniable sense of similarity between Sisters and the opening of the recent smash-hit Television show, West World, and not without good reason. In both, the visuals are gorgeous, and in both, you want to see more. An expertly executed piece of musical animated cinema.

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