Interview with Patrice Francois, Festival Director IMAGINE THIS WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival: Imagine This Productions is dedicated to providing aspiring women storytellers and filmmakers a space to encourage and develop creative projects by women. ITP’s goal is to support women by sharing their work to the public, promoting equal opportunities, encouraging professional development, and serving as a resource informative network. 

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

Patrice Francois: I believe our film festival is succeeding at proving a platform for underrepresent women filmmakers from all over the world. We’ve showcased films from Afghanistan and Palestine. Our 2016 Best Documentary short film, “Shireen of Al-Walaja” by director Daz Chandler, is about an intimate portrait of a dynamic and popular Palestinian resistance leader, who left her full-time job at the UN to return to her home village of al-Walaja and fight for her community. And one of the attendance thanked us for being risky and showing the film. He told us that many other platforms wouldn’t dare screen the film because of the sensitive subject. We feel that We’re not here to play politics, if you do good work and you have a great story to share, your story deserves to be seen no matter what.

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

PF: A very divers selection of films of unique and compelling stories. A number of films will touch on themes related to personal struggles within political and social conflicts across the world. Oh, a great after party with attendees and some of the filmmakers.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

PF: That’s easy. Must be made by a women filmmaker either directed, produced or written. And of course, a great story.

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

PF: Definitely. I’ve done the whole submit your film to film festivals and had endless discussions with other women filmmakers, so I know first hand how “un-fair” it can be sometimes. One of the main reason we started Imagine This. I think there’s just a lot of politics involved, I mean there’s politics involved in just about everything, but I’ve been to local film festivals that are supposed to be focused on indie, low budget films and some of the selected films have been made with well known actors and/or their budgets didn’t fit in “low” category.

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

PF: We understand the obstacles that exist for new and up-and-coming filmmakers. We decided it was important to help cultivate an appreciation for a wide range of unique and compelling stories, especially those from women who have been traditionally underrepresented in film.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

PF: We’ve seen a tremendous response, and are quite frankly blown away by the quality of submissions we’ve seen. We’re trending to doubling the amount submissions from last year.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

PF: It’s clear that there is tremendous female filmmaking talent out there, but there is still so much work to be done to create an inclusive environment that supports women storytellers, so I guess a bigger and better festival that’s more established in the NY film festival scene.

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

PF: Let see, I would say “Heat”. That scene between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in the diner scene is one of my all time favorite scenes. Plus I love Val Kilmer, he’ll always have a special place in my heart as well as my mother’s, lol

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

PF: A film should have a great story and it should be compelling, it should be able to capture the mind of the audience, it should strike a chord, actors should run with the story and own it. the actors and the visuals should have a nice balance.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

PF: Oh gosh, I live in the “country”, so there is no film scene in my town. I have to head down to the city to get my dose of art and culture, lol

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Interviewee Patrice Francois is an actor, screenwriter, filmmakers based in the Greater New York area. She is the co-founder of Imagine This Production and the festival director for Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival.

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.

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