Film Review: GET OUT (USA 2017) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

get_out.jpgDirector: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Review by Gilbert Seah

Imagine a horror version of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER with a director trained in comedy with an act at Second City, Chicago, and the result is the priceless horror comedy GET OUT that opens this weekend and the most fun at the movies so far this year.

Now that Chris Washington (British Daniel Kaluuya, SICARIO, JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford). At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behaviour as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

First of all, there is the weird as hell maid, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who has the uncanny ability to cry while laughing at the same time. Then there is the assortment of guests that show up, apparently for an annual event, all of whom treat Chris with the greets oddity. The best inspired character is the blind owner of an art gallery, Jim Hudson (Stephen Root).

Things take a turn for the worse when Missy hypnotizes Chris to strop smoking. Chis finds himself stuck in a void whenever Missy stirs tea in a tea cup, which is actually one of the scariest scenes in a horror movie this year – credit to director Jordan Peel.

Director Peel appears to figure that if he directs very act set-up to perfection, then the combination of all these acts would make a perfect movie. The tactic actually works. Each horror set up is devised with the greatest of both creepiness and campiness that delight the audience, judging from the laughter and scares of the audience at the promo screening.
Every actor performs his or her part to almost perfection. Peel appears to be able to elicit excellent performances from all. Catherine Keener is again a pleasure to watch, and I have never seen her in a bad film. She has the knack of picking the best films.

There are a few forgivable flaws in the script, which is also written by Peel. One is the careless placement of the red box, discovered by Chris revealing all of the family’s past victims. The box should have been kept under lock and key. The other is Dean performing the operation before the victim is wheeled into the operating room.

But the film is deliciously wicked, from the camp humour to the suspense to the sexual innuendo and racial connotations. The film is also brave enough to attempt a horror film in which a black man is the victim with a racial setting. (Director Jordan Peel is black.)

My favourite camp horror is Dario Argento’s OPERA. GET OUT marks a close second. Low budget but high in hilarity and entertainment. Highly recommended!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRfnevzM9kQ

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

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Film Review: SHADOWS OF PARADISE

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

shadows_of_paradise.jpgDirector: Sebastian Lange
Writer: Sebastian Lange

Review by Gilbert Seah

SHADOWS OF PARADISE is a not-your-usual documentary about Transcendental Meditation. It answers the question how do TM’s adherents continue when a spiritual luminary dies.

With intimate access to two of Transcendental Meditation’s new leaders – iconic filmmaker David Lynch and dedicated disciple Bobby Roth – director Sebastian Lange documents the Movement’s metamorphosis following the passing of its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Having himself grown up within the Movement, director Sebastian Lange approaches his subject through an introspective and essayistic lens, seeking to reconcile TM’s present-day incarnation with the teachings and practices that have shaped his worldview. The film documents the star-studded galas hosted by Lynch’s Manhattan-based foundation to a perilous cliffside cave in Madhya Pradesh.

Word of warning: The inspiration of the teachings propaganda-d in this film originated from Guru Dev. Guru Dev lived in a distant cave, north of India and dismissed normal life for meditation. So, this film might not be for everyone. In fact many will likely laugh at the film’s teachings, so if you are not with open mind, it is best to skip reading this review as well as the film – no insult to the person involved. Even if one is of open mind, there is a lot to take and believe in this film. Before reading this review, please bear in mind that this reviewer is no proponent of transcendental meditation (TM). This reviewer is a nonbeliever of TM, but will try to have an open mind in reviewing the film and in the examination of the subject.

Director David Lynch is a champion of the cause of TM. He has made MULHOLLAND DRIVE, a film critically acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all time. It is a film that is as weird as it is brilliant and covers multiple layers of consciousness. But I wonder now if Lynch has not lost some of his marbles. His hairstyle in the film – a streaked white coiffe does not help his looks either. Other celebrities involved whose presence are seen on screen include Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Lynch has a special ‘Lynch Foundation’ that collects money and donations for the cause.
Director Lange is quick to point out that TM is neither a religion, cult, government or industry. But he fails to define what TM really is.

For a film that champions TM, there is little about what TM actually is. It is only near the end of the film when the audiences sees a practical illustration of TM as executed by both Roth and Lynch. The director of the film Sebastian Lange is also a believer. His goal, which forms the climax of the film is to understand TM as well. His quest is to search for this remote cave that both Maharashi and Guru Dev spent years in. But it is reputed that the cave is swamped with bees and many who have ventured there have ended up in hospital.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/184505918
 
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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: DEPARTURE (DEPART) (UK/France 2015)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

departure.jpgDirector: Andrew Steggall
Writer: Andrew Steggall
Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Alex Lawther, Phénix Brossard

Review by Gilbert Seah

 The reason for the bilingual title is that the film is shot in South France and in both French and English, though English is the main order of the day.

DEPARTURE tells the simple story that in reality could have layers making it more complex. Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson) is going through a marital crisis and she has brought her son – Elliot to help her pack up their idyllic summer home in the south of France. The two hardly do any packing but wander around the market in the village. Elliot is of the age of puberty. He sees a local lad swimming in the reservoir and smoking a cigarette and decides he has to get to know this boy better – nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean?

This lad is rural Clement (Phénix Brossard) all macho and a complete opposite in character and physique from Elliot. It is hard to believe that he has no clue the reason of Elliot’s fondness for him. What happens after makes the rest of the film. Whether the film succeeds depends on director Steggall whether he can invoke enough interest from the audience or maybe bring some twist to the plot.

Steggall does however, create a believable idyllic atmosphere of a rural French village – with English outsiders treated politely as income generating tourists for the French peasants. There is little hostility, at least, and none that needs to be built up or included into the story. Steggall tells his tale directly with few distractions.

Some films have little going on in appearance. DEPARTURE is one of those films. But to be fair to the writer and director of DEPARTURE, there could be more than meets the eye – if the audiences were to read between the lines (or see between the images). But there is quite a lot of inane dialogue – lines that make no sense being there. One sample occurs in the beginning of the film when Elliot asks his mother about a photograph he finds: “Who is this man in the boat with dad?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replies. Another lengthy conversation takes place between the boy and a cafe owner about poetry, acting and plays – which has little impact on the plot, exempt to maybe establish (not very credibly) that the boy is a gifted writer.

Elliot, the boy is not the perfect model of a son. Elliot, the wannabe poet (his talent is questionable) is described as a cliche by Clement. Elliot acts like a spoiled little princess half the time, who wants his mother dead so that he can have a sex life. He is indifferent to his dad’s visit. He masturbates with a carrot from the fridge and dumps the soiled vegetable in the bin, which his mother discovers.

DEPARTURE is extremely slow moving. After 30 minutes of the film’s running time, nothing much happens – except the boy has seen another boy and the mother and son is still in the French village.

It is good to see Juliet Stevenson (famous after her role opposite the late Alan Rickman in TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY) on the screen after a long absence, though she does not get to do that much. Alex Lawther who plays Elliot has played big roles in the past, like the young Alan Turing in THE IMITATION GAME and the math film X + Y

DEPARTURE has gone on to win a few awards already at minor film festivals. But it is slow haul which will test the patience of many a viewer. The film is available DVD / VOD on March 7th in the U.S. and Canada via Wolfe Video.

Trailer: https://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2016/feb/02/departure-watch-an-exclusive-trailer-for-the-new-british-drama-video

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (USA/Fr/Belg/Switz 2016) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

iamnotyournego.jpgDirector: Raoul Peck
Writer: James Baldwin
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Dick Cavett

Review by Gilbert Seah

The title of this new documentary immediately implies a film that would rock the boat in the topic of racism. It also implies an era when the ’n’ word was widely used before deemed inappropriate. The opening credits are done in black and white to emphasize the film’s seriousness.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, by Raoul Peck attempts to reveal that the ‘negro’ thought understood by most Americans is in fact a stereotyped misunderstood one The doc is based on the unfinished book by James Baldwin (narrated by Samuel L.Jackson) and looks at the impressions made by 3 murdered negroes – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. The three black men were killed roughly three years apart. As informed by the voiceover, these are three different men, each of whom have done so much for the people who have betrayed them.

The premise of the film is to tell the history of the black men as seen from the eyes of Medgar, Malcolm and Martin Luther as purported by a book that is to be written by James Baldwin. The book never got past 30 pages, due to Baldwin’s death. The film illustrates what happened and which truths have been revealed. The film gives the feel that director Peck wants his film to be as controversial as possible, hopefully to stir discussion on the topic of racism.

Peck spends screen time mourning the deaths of the three – with voiceover relating the details. He also mentions through Baldwin, that the Americans do not know what to do with the black population while the ‘nigger’ has never been happy in his place, just trying to survive in America. John Wayne and George Washington were the typical white men as perceived by a black person. Often he sees the piles of black men pile up. When the black stands up, he attacks the power structure of the entire world.

The film offers many arguments illustrated with many archive stills. The most interesting revelation of the film is the argument between King and Malcolm X – showing the two different approaches of dealing with black racism. The doc also includes rare clips of ‘negro’ old movies (WAY OUT, A RAISIN IN THE SUN, THE DEFIANT ONES, all with Sidney Poitier who appears in all the controversial movies) which were acceptable then but considered unacceptable now. Also shown are unforgettable scenes like one on on a bus with the segregation of black and white seating at the back and front of the bus respectively.

The film ends up successfully criticizing America from the black man’s point of view. It also riles up emotions of the black man with appropriate examples given. The film ends with the footage of the Rodney King beaten by white police – still a very disturbing scene to watch.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year (with long line-ups), garnering praises together with other racial-themed films like MOONLIGHT, LOVING and A UNITED KINGDOM. The film has been nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNUYdgIyaPM

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: LOGAN (USA 2017) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

logan.jpgDirector: James Mangold
Writers: Michael Green (screenplay), Scott Frank (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel comic universe – LOGAN is the name of the Wolverine mutant in the X-MEN series. He has been played by actor Hugh Jackson in the past as well as in this latest edition, which is supposed to be his last. To put everyone in line with the Wolverine Universe, LOGAN is intended to be the tenth installment in the X-Men film series, as well as the third and final Wolverine solo film following X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Wolverine (2013).

Director James Mangold has made a slew of movies, but I fir
st noticed his film COP LAND which dealt with an ageing sheriff played by Sylvester Stallone, forced out of his complacency to do what is right. The premise of LOGAN is quite the same. Wolverine (Jackman) just wants to be left alone – drinking and driving his car for hire, until he encounters mutants running away from a government control experiment gone haywire.

The setting of the story is the near future with Wolverine. dealing with his age and ailment. His abilities are not what they once were”. So, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X aka Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with an albino mutant called Caliban (Steven Mercahnt) in a hideout on the Mexican border. (Caliban is named after Prospero’s slave, the ugly monster of the island he is shipwrecked in, in Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST). His attempts to hide from the world and his legacy, however, are up-ended when a young mutant, Laura (Dane Keen) arrives, being pursued by dark force. The first fight arrives a late 45 minutes into the film.

As in the Marvel action films, the fight scenes have to be awesome. The ones here meet the standard, being violent enough with head rolling off and sharp blade slicing up bodies. The editing is quick, but the scenes held long enough for the audience to figure out what is happening.

The script, partly written by Mangold together with Scott Frank and Michael Green, shows occasional bouts of brilliance. At one point in the film, Logan discovers X-MEN comic books in Aurora’s bag. Reading them, he finds that the Eden place that they are going to is described in the comic book as well as certain past events. The film here takes an eerie look, with a chilly feel similar to what could be felt in David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE. The story also pays a clever nod to the classic western SHANE that appears on the television. Logan, Charles and Laura on their journey to find Eden, encounter a family, just as the stranger SHANE does in the film, and their encounter affects the destiny of the family who like the movie SHANE, is being hustled out of the land by mercenary gunmen. The script does not shy away from senseless killings, which is a good thing. A lot of innocent people die in this movie.

LOGAN costs a whopping 127 million to make. It is a handsomely mounted production with impressive special effects and great fight choreography. It should make is money back based on the fact that the film is quite good. Only thing is that much publicity is required to let the world be aware that this is actually another X-MEN movie despite the words “X-MEN” missing from the innocently chosen title.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Div0iP65aZo

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Interview with Festival Director Edda Manriquez (Les Femmes Underground Film Festival)

 The International Les Femmes Underground is a film festival centred on the subversive, unique, and innovative. LEFUFF, showcases artists from all walks of life creating work which redefines the manner in which women are represented in mainstream cinema. Making its debut in 2016, Les Femmes Underground is premiering in Los Angeles as the first ever traveling women’s underground film festival. Les Femmes Underground was created as a response to the decline of feminist icons and role models in the media. As feminists, they believe it is our responsibility to empower new generations of young women to generate work which breaks away from society’s gendered roles.

http://lesfemmesinternational.org/
 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

A: LEFUFF, is an underground women’s traveling film festival featuring work from intersectional feminist artists from all around the world. We provide fee waivers for at need artists, low pro-rated submission rates, and offer opportunities for artists to attend through our traveling component. We bring films to the locations with the most artists; thereby alleviating costs of travel. Our festival features the gritty, raw undervalued marginalized stories and people in our community. A lot are emerging diy artists whose approach is millennial in aesthetic featuring digital, film, video, and glitch forms. We provide a space through which narrative artists can transition and experience experimental work, as well as a space where experimental filmmakers can glean and learn from narrative artists. We provide an edgy artistic underground world of queer-trans , experimental, phycho-trophic non-heteronormative art forms as well as insight into different cultures and the differences which bring us together as a community.

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

A: Our lineups are divided into 5 sections. This year we have included a documentary portion to our festival, where marginalized characters are examined. Our second portion showcases experimental work such as glitch art, experimental animation, and psycho-trophic films. Our third section features coming of age narrative shorts where the characters undergo cultural clashes and self-acceptance. Our fourth section features horror shorts, where we will showcase horror from a female lens. The last section is our adult rated showcase, where female sexuality will be examined through a variation of shorts.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

A: Films must be directed, produced or written by female artists or have strong female leads. The films can be made by men, after all feminists come in all shapes and forms, the only requirement that women aren’t one dimension.

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

A: The world of film is split into 2 major demographics. Hollywood and Indie Films. As most have made a reference to in the past couple years is that Hollywood is now Super Hero movies, and Indie is none other than large production companies making drama genre films. AKA not super heros. Then that leaves the rest of us…. Well more like then there’s commercial films ( people with good cameras who shoot boring basic content) …. And then the rest of us… the artists. The people who want more than just a pop-up book of movies. We crave substance, form, and mental stimulation. There in lies the bias in film festivals. If you look like you belong in Sundance due to your budget and the quality of camera you have then you are chosen. The quality of story is boring and has been seen many times before. If you have a budget for special effects.. you get in. If you have a celebrity in your film… you’re in. Why? Because most festivals want numbers. They want attendees, and celebrities bring that to you. They bring revenue. But they don’t bring diversity other than their token minorities with stories to claim to feature hardships of certain demographics, but are often directed by white rich men. So some films don’t make the cut. Then theres the world of experimental films, and those can be biased too. They have their own underground world of celebrities. If you are a certain name then you will play because you bring prestige to the festival . And so many times, people aren’t given opportunities. Also they don’t teach you this in art school or film school, festivals prefer shorter pieces to program more. So anything under 11 mins are preferred and 20 mins is pushing it. You have to remember these people are watching hundreds of movies. We’ve seen the same movie over and over again, or more like the same plot lines being retold. So yours has to stick out within the first shots. Also you can have an awful camera but if your sound is good and your story is compelling then you have a chance as a indie filmmaker.

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

A: We want to create a positive social change for women in the media cinematic arts. As a minority female artist, I understand my resume is skipped because I have a latin last name. I know because I am female I will also be questioned by production companies when it comes to tech knowledge. I know this because I’ve been there. I know because I have experienced being spoken over and disregarded. So we do this because we are all intersectional feminists, some of us are minorities, some of us are queer, some of us are male, some of us are Caucasian. We have the gambit of participants. So we know what it means to have to push against adversity. We do this so we can succeed as a community, to change the way films and women are viewed through different mediums of art.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

A: FilmFreeway is intuitive, it helps tracking and allows very easy sharing among other judged. Withoutabox is still very much a task. I want to compare it to apple vs pc. One just has more steps to customize. Filmreeway gives you the indie flavor and withoutabox has a lot of great narrative pieces with higher budgets. They both offer great resources and diverse options.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

A: We hope to continue to grow and eventually offer grants to at need artists to continue with their art. We would have traveled a couple more cities, as we did Venice Los Angeles last year and will be doing San Diego this year.

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

A: Funny enough I realize that my favorite film isn’t the best in technique, its not artistic, and its not a cinematic masterpiece. It’s the film which first made me feel something. It awakened a sense of awe, it gave me a desire to story tell. It was a film which created a world outside of myself, and of course it was none other than the very basic yet wonderfully whimsical Casper. Yes the kids film. Yes Christina Ricci. Yes my CalArts professors would be smacking me in the face for choosing this. But its true, I have watched this more times than I can count. I don’t need to think. I don’t need to analyze. It just is. Artists often look at me in disgust when I say this. But I believe this to be the most honest non-pretentious truth. This film changed my life when I was 8 years old. I started to write after that. It was raw and it was real and I still love it. Now if you were to ask me my favorite art film… then id get snooty pretentious… because I did go to an experimental Disney school.

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

A: A great film makes you question or embrace your understanding of the world.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

A: Los Angeles. Right. The capital of film, over stimulation. It is everywhere. It is the Mecca. There’s all kinds of underground societies as well as Hollywood. There’s a huge network of artists out there, grant it I am more familiar with CalArts inspired universes.
 

lesfemme1.jpg

Interviewee: Edda Manriquez- Edda graduated with an MFA in film and video from CalArts and received her BA at UC San Diego. She is southern California based feminist experimental filmmaker and performance artist. She founded LEFUFF in 2015 along side David Leopoldo Gonzalez. She currently works for the Getty Research Institute and is a community activist and educator. She now lives with her pet dog in Santa Clarita.

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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 Matt Croyle (Oil Valley Film Festival)

At the Oil Valley Film Festival, their mission is to bring the voices and films of new and established filmmakers to the heart of Venango County, an area underrepresented in the world of film. Located in Oil City, Pennsylvania, and nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, attending the Oil Valley Film Festival will grant you the experience of watching engaging cinema within an intimate community with a rich history.

http://oilvalleyfilmfestival.weebly.com/
 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

A: Well, we’re only a year in. This year is year two, but I think we’re heading down such a great future track as far as what we’re capable of providing for filmmakers. The “in competition” selections not only get the notoriety of being selected as just that, but each selection is in competition in every award category. Every screenwriting entrant receives an updated copy of the Hollywood Screenwriting Directory, and that’s just for submitting. We’re partnered with the Writers Store for the second year, and the directory is the premiere resource for screenwriters everywhere. It includes industry contacts, writing tips and advice, and is just a priceless addition to a career as a screenwriter.

Outside of those immediate benefits, filmmakers from all over the globe are able to get their films in front of a rural audience. I think it’s imperative that rural audiences get to connect with filmmakers they may not know, filmmakers outside of what flicks are being shown in their local multiplex. We offer that opportunity not only for a rural audience, but the filmmakers too.

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

A: Attending the Oil Valley Film Festival this year will, again, be an intimate gathering of filmmakers, audience members, and the festival staff. We’re in the process of adding panel events this year, which can give audience members an opportunity to learn about the different aspects of creating and marketing movies, but it gives filmmakers and writers the chance to network, and talk about their projects and experiences in doing so. If you want to get away from the city, spend a few days in the beauty of rural Pennsylvania, and enjoy quality cinema from around the globe, then our festival is for you.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

A: The films selected to screen at our festival go through a vetting process which includes our festival judiciary committee, which consists of filmmakers, producers, and cinema enthusiasts. It’s a select group, and they know their stuff. Each committee member is assigned with specific categories, with the final decision coming down to myself as director of the festival. We’re looking for amazing storytelling and production value, even if you don’t have the budget for the latter. Effort is imperative. Our selected films, while varying in many aspects, all find a distinct way to connect to our audiences on a personal level – as I feel quality cinema should. All selected films must not have been released theatrically or online. Premiere status isn’t a factor.

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

A: I do think some films don’t get a fair shake. A lot of the established festivals, while they are amazing events and great opportunities for filmmakers, seem extremely selective anymore in order to ensure audiences show up, in order to sell tickets / passes. While some unknown filmmaker – with an amazing first feature – may be on the fence, pitted against a name filmmaker with a so-so flick, an established festival may go the route of the latter for the fact that they know more people will attend the established filmmaker’s screening, even if that film isn’t as good. But, then again, “good” is subjective. We have to remember that movies, like anything else, are a business, and that’s especially true on the festival end of the industry.

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

A: I think the thing that motivates us more than anything is our love of movies. It’s really that simple. Growing up I always got excited when I saw a new film that spoke to me, and I couldn’t wait to run and tell my friends about it, set them down and watch it with them, watch their reactions. This festival is almost an extension of that same excitement. But now, as an adult, I have a larger venue in which to share that excitement with more people than just my friends. It’s finding a way to connect a lot of people with movies that mean something.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

A: I cannot say enough great things about FilmFreeway. Their service is absolutely integral to our submission process. It’s organizationally comprehensive, yet simple enough for your entire team to use. Their online marketing options are worth the time, and they’re fairly priced. We’ve already received half of our total submissions from last year by this year’s early bird deadline.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

A: Well, 2020 will be our fifth year. By then I would love for us to be an Academy-Award qualifying event for short films. That seems quite doable at this juncture, by the way we’re steadily growing. It’s not out of reach. And, by our fifth year, I hope that we can establish ourselves as a premiere event in Pennsylvania. There’s a lot of love for the process of filmmaking here, and a great reception for quality cinema from the people in the area.

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

A: Wow. That’s a tough question. I’m not exactly sure which film I’ve seen the most, but I will say that I can probably recite every line from both Peter Jackson’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks II.’

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

A: How about one word? “Connection.” Everyone has a favorite film. If you connect to it, it’s “great” to you.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

A: Oil City, Pennsylvania isn’t the hub of film in the area, but we’re looking to make our mark with what we do at the Oil Valley Film Festival. It’s nice for film lovers here for the fact that we’re about halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie, and we’re looking to bridge that gap not only with the film festival, but by making our own films here – promoting the area for other productions is another thing we’re striving to do. We’re a Rust Belt city, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a love and need for culture and art here. We’re adding to that need, helping it to grow.

oilvalley1.jpg

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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.