Interview with J. Michael Seyfert (Cine Pobre)

Cine Pobre is a self-funded filmmaking genre without a set of stylistic criteria nor format boundaries, involving many geographically separated creators with at least two things in common: a strong desire to tell our story and to do so with our own resources.

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I recently sat down with J. Michael Seyfert to talk more about the festival:

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

JMS: So far Cine Pobre has co-produced 8 films, and we provide post production talent and technical skills through camera stabilization workshops, and help with branding and niche market exposure. Cine Pobre Film Festival is like filmmaking itself, a collaborative and not a competitive concept.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival? 

JMS: Personally , unless you’re talking about Orson Welles or Werner Herzog for example I am not keen on listening to a lot of self-congratulating trivia and gossip staged by most film festivals who appear more like cocktail parties. I appreciate excellent programming that has attitude and teeth, to be intriguing,  that’s what Cine Pobre delivers: New Eyes.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films? 

JMS: Anything goes, but must be self-funded and under $25,000 usd crowd-funding is also accepted, but productions financed by grants and film fund supported budgets are not accepted.

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

JMS: The business model of conventional festivals, of which there are literally thousands, is strictly a numbers game no matter how idealistic they may cloak themselves. As soon as an event gains some prestige it becomes elitist and exclusionary, rich in overhead and filmmaker exploitative.

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

JMS: Curating the best self funded films to the widest audience is gratifying, as only the works of story tellers unbeholden to sponsors are censorship-free.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception? 

JMS: Started with small screenings in rural areas to become the largest resource of self-funded film with over 10,000 shorts, features, documentaries, animation, experimental and music videos.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JMS: We receive entries from about 100 countries and would love to curate films from all 190 states and territories on the planet.

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

JMS: Bye Bye Havana

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

JMS: A story so well told that it holds the attention of a 7 year old.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city? 

JMS: Still emerging from provincialism…. However Cine Pobre is neither stagnant nor static. Over the past 13 years we have taken our screenings to rural areas in Mexico and different countries in Latin America. We hope to also develop events in Africa where many exciting self-funded filmmakers are emerging.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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