Interview with Festival Director Eric Morgret (Crypticon Seattle Horror Film Festival))

In 2017 Crypticon Seattle was picked as the Best Convention in Seattle by the readers of The Seattle Weekly. Crypticon Seattle, the convention is in its 11th year and Crypticon Seattle Film Festival is in its 7th year. Crypticon Seattle is the convention celebrating the Pacific Northwest’s Darker Side. Three days of your favorite actors, authors, and artists, along with tons of new people and things you never knew existed. But we are so much more than a tidal wave of blood, guts, and scares.

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

Eric Morgret: We provide a fun event with an amazing convention around it. It is a little different than most festivals. We are in a hotel and don’t have a full theater set-up. We do however love the films and are always adding things every year to make the event better for filmmakers. Adding, meet and greets and special events. We have a couple of big things being added this year that have not been announced yet.

Crypticon has stars in attendance some filmmaker have deals made at the convention. With shorts and features we show a year later, it’s been fun to watch.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We are adding a few new elements that will enhance the experience substantially. Most are filmmakers only so I can’t announce them here. We are working hard to make the film room feel more like a theater and have some changes that should help that.

You will have your film shown with a post-screening Q&A; we have convention parties going over the weekend, with a huge vendors room, panels to attend, classes, contests, and huge events. We will have filmmaking training classes and more.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are looking for the story and something a little different. We like quality filmmaking chops, but we do love to show low-budget shorts and some have low-value production values.

First and foremost is the story and something interesting to show.

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

Sure that does happen. I am sure we have been guilty of this as well, but we try very hard not to be. We view all submissions; this does not always happen at every festival. In the end, festivals are run by people, we do mistakes, and we have huge differences of opinion. What one festival thinks is the most brilliant thing they have other seen another festival with thinking it’s terrible and would never show it. This can feel like your not being treated fairly; I don’t think it’s done intentionally. Since I also am a filmmaker and work hard to get my films shown, I know how this can feel. In the end, it is still people running the event, and they aren’t ever perfect.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We love horror movies! We love to represent the films and shorts you may not see otherwise. The world is stuffed with ways to watch movies, festivals like Crypticon Seattle and BoneBat Film Festival are here to help you dig through the noise.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s a great service! I think we were the 4th festival to sign up for them a few years back and since day one they have been responsive and helpful with any questions we have had. They also work hard to improve the service and are always adding useful services and tools.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

More fun, more expansive, crazier, and all around full of awesome filmmakers and film fans!

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

One? Hmmm, how about a few. Horror is my favorite genre but I love all films. The movie that changed the way I watch movies was Amadeus. No idea how many times I’ve seen that movie. A few heavy hitters in horror that I’ve watched a ton: Carpenter’s The Thing, Hellraiser, Re-animiter, Hammer’s Dracula. Recent films: Blade Runner 2049, It Follows, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and so many more…

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Tell a good story, and tell it in your original creative voice.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Growing! I started my first festival almost ten years ago, and the local submissions were few and far between. In 2017 we had enough quality NW shorts to have a Northwest Filmmakers showcase. It lasted an hour. This year we have 2 hours of shorts and two features for our NW Filmmakers Showcase. It’s exciting to see what is going on around here from Seattle to Portland to Boise our NW filmmakers are stepping up and making great movies!

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Festival Director Terra Renee (African American Women In Cinema)

Each year African American Women In Cinema host one of the most celebrated female film events in the country that shines its luminous spotlight onto ambitious women filmmakers from all over the country and the world!

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

Terra Renee: Bringing awareness of women filmmakers of color

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

An interesting variety of film entertainment programs as well as special keynote panels on social issues such as the metoo movement and the importance of voting.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The film have to be written or directed or produced by a woman of color.

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

Interesting question, I have not thought about looking at festivals in that light.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

The lack of opportunities for women of color, although we are starting to see some breakthroughs now.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s really simple and to the point, not much of an issue.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Global

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

A hard question because there were so many. I will give you one, Stone Mansion.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A good story with excellent acting talent great production, fabulous directing with superb editing.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Pretty active!

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Amanda Drewniak (Ardor Creative Media)

 Ardor Creative Media is a “NO BULLSHIT” Non Profit for film and filmmakers. They strive to bring forth the best in Seattle Independent Film making.

http://ardorcreativemedia.com/

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

Amanda Drewniak: Cine City is curated by our non-profit Ardor Creative Media. Cine City is only the piece of the puzzle for local Washington State Filmmakers. This monthly Screening encourages our local filmmakers not only to create but exposes their film(s) to audiences that may have not seen it or known about local made films in our community. Especially since Cine-City has no submission fees, we reach out to more local participants who both can and cannot afford the steepening fees of other festivals. We also have very basic rules to encourage “unknown” filmmakers to create: 1. The film overall must be playable 2. You must show up to the screening (filmmakers get 2 free tickets) and support your film otherwise you do not qualify for the “Best Of” final competition of the Year. 3. You must live in Washington State to participate.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We hold our monthly screenings at Naked City Brewery and Taphouse in their screening room, it’s a small space (75 max occupancy) so it can fill up fast. During all screenings you get full food and bar service. In addition to our film screening, Jeffrey Robert (aka The Gay Uncle) a wonderful local comedian and host works the crowd, conducts trivia (with prizes) at the beginning of the event, leads the Q & A session with the filmmakers at the end of the event and enforces the rules on voting for audience favorite films. At our end of year festival or “Best Of” in November we take all the films that were voted best during the year and have them compete against one another for prizes. Films are voted on by the audience and we announce the winners at the end of the night. At this event, we have harder trivia questions (with better prizes) and a silent auction.

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

As someone who has screened for local festivals, I really think that most festivals are revenue driven. I understand the need to cover overhead and pay your employees but I do feel more could be done to encourage our local filmmaker scene. I mean of course I have turned downed films at Cine City, you have to have a quality standard. I usually send an email explaining why the film was not accepted. Few times I have had a filmmaker comeback with a better film. I do not think there is enough encouragement of talent and cultivating a supportive scene that will ensure quality films are made locally.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Over all, we love film. We love watching films, making films. We want to see more of what Seattle has to offer. It’s hard at times and we feel we want to quit because some screenings have a tough crowd or you get your share of egos thrown at you but every month we comeback to it. We push through and cultivate the type of screenings we want to see more of. We want our neighborhoods and communities to see we have strong talent and quality local entertainment.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

I personal feel the FilmFreeway process has definitely made receiving submissions easier. It helps me organize submitted films into subcategories and helps me stay organized for the Best Of at the end of the year.

Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We are so low budget, I really just take it a year at a time. I hope by 2023, our screenings will become more popular and we can have several a month in different areas of the city and create a really nice Best Of that attracts audiences from out of state to come just to see what Seattle and Washington State has to offer. In general I think Seattle should be the film epicenter of the Pacific Northwest.

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

What a tough question. I am constantly looking for something new. Hmm.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

For me, the ride. It doesn’t have to be the greatest fim created, I just have to enjoy myself. Sorry that was two sentences and this one makes three.

How is the film scene in your city?

Are you asking me to ruffle some feathers? I mean that’s what I do, in my city with film, I ruffle feathers. I love the filmmakers, I love the talent, I think it’s disorganized. I think we need a big wig or two to come through and encourage filmmakers to be proud of their work and encourage our communities to stand behind them. I am originally from Miami and it was a culture shock to see how many filmmakers rush to finish a record amount of films a year and do not slow down and cultivate a project, market a project, and support a project. It’s been a bit of an uphill battle but I am slowly winning people over. I really truly believe there is more to the Seattle film scene and Seattleites just haven’t discovered it in themselves yet. I am hopefully that by 2023 Seattle’s filmmakers will have more courage under their belt to pour their hearts into their projects. I have hope for all the talented people here.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Lari Teräs (Toronto Int’l Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival (TISH))

Toronto Int’l Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival (TISH) had its first event in 2016. The festival was launched by filmmakers and genre film aficionados Lari Teräs and Jonathan Lewis in order to give people of Toronto access to quality genre films throughout the year.

Our aim is to showcase the best genre films from around the World from new filmmakers and seasoned veterans. We focus on new voices and prefer creativity over big budgets. In addition to dedicated short film blocks, we aim to schedule each feature with one short and a genre appropriate music video at the beginning to set the mood. We also run Toronto’s first and only annual Scream Queen/King Competition along with other social events.

Our lineup will be announced March 10, 2018 and the festival will be held April 6-8, 2018 at the Carlton Cinema.

http://www.springofhorror.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SpringOfHorror/
https://filmfreeway.com/TorontoSpringOfHorrorFantasy

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

Lari Teräs: We offer a fun environment to screen their work in downtown Toronto. We promote the films before and over the course of the festival; buying Facebook ads, blasting the trailers out not only promote us, but also the filmmakers and their films. We then continue promoting their films after the festival while visiting conventions such as Horror-Rama and on our social media.

If wanted, we give feedback to anyone who asks regardless of whether their film was accepted to screen or not. Toronto is also home to plenty of reviewers and distribution companies to whom we have been making our presence known more as we have grown.

After we ended up on FilmFreeway’s Top-100 Best Reviewed festivals list, we were then contacted by a very notable production company asking for insights on upcoming filmmakers and we were more than happy to drop a few names from our Alumni, hopefully aiding them further in their careers.

To top it off, in keeping with the fun nature of the festival, we award the best films with our coveted Cleaver the Beaver bobblehead(!) statue.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We think genre films and festivals should be fun and the atmosphere relaxed. In addition to the screenings and Q&A’s, the venue (Carlton Cinema) is fully licensed and we hold two bar nights as well as Toronto’s first and only annual Scream Queen/King competition. That is an experience by itself both to viewers and participants. All that combined makes it a very fun and social atmosphere.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We appreciate creativity and new ideas. The main criteria is that they are genre films (horror, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) or something genre film fans would like to see. Assuming the film fits our categories, we rate how much we enjoyed watching the film, whether we would want to go see it ourselves and whether it had elements we had never seen before.

Part of the selection process is keeping a good variety and balance of different types of movies. Late night, we like to schedule something more gory and outrageous while daytime might be better suited for more contemplative films.

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

I do believe that nowadays there is a good variety of festivals out there catering to most types of films. Genre films like horror and fantasy might be underrepresented at the very high profile festivals, but horror fans are pretty good at finding their way to the genre film festivals.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Basically our love of movies. I’ve always enjoyed watching movies and hosting movie nights for friends at my house. After doing a festival tour with my film Blood Riders and experiencing a wide variety of festivals (good and not so good), we wanted to expand those movie nights to a festival of our own. We also realized that there was a large gap in horror film festivals in the spring in Toronto, so we decided to fill the void since we believe good genre films should be available all year long!

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The submission process has been great. Last year we got on the Top-100 Best Reviewed Festivals list for quite a while, which definitely boosted our submissions significantly. Furthermore, we have noticed filmmakers whose works we have previously screened resubmitting to us, which is always nice to see. The only downside is that the amount of quality submissions we receive makes the selection process very hard.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

As mentioned before, our submissions have increased significantly, and our attendance also hiked last year, so we’re looking to extend our festival by a few days very soon and hopefully have a weeklong event by 2023. We’ve always played music videos in front of our screenings and we’re looking into introducing live music at our parties in the coming years.

However, our main goal is to always keep the fun and social atmosphere going. Bigger, Better and Bloodier!

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Donnie Darko. It is an extremely well written and beautifully shot film that really captivated me when I first saw it. The absolutely hilarious “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is a close second.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Interesting story supported by witty dialogue with complex characters drenched in blood. (Blood may or may not be optional depending on the genre…)

10) How is the film scene in your city?

The film scene in Toronto is very active both on the independent and studio film side. It is without a doubt one of the top markets in North America. The horror film scene should also get a special mention as it is very supportive of each other and a delightful group to be a part of.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Mike Messier (AVALONIA Film Festival)

Avalonia Festival is named in honor of a continent lost is the mists of time, as if dissipated by magic; thus we are here to celebrate the unique Art of our own world of creation. Avalonia Festival II is now accepting submissions of short films, teasers, trailers, film photography and film posters.

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

Mike Messier: Our website Avalonia Festival sets us apart because we actually give our filmmakers the option to either share their actual film ​(or a teaser or a promotional still image)​ on our site to represent their film. This promotes both the work​ itself​ and the filmmaker​ ​as well as their cast and crew. ​Many or even most other film festivals concentrate so much on the live experience but are negligent to the online community which does not make much sense these days, as it’s very hard to get people to actually attend anything in person, while it’s relatively easy to get them to engage online. For those who can attend our live event on April 20, the admission is free ,while many festivals are very expensive So, Avalonia Festival plays well both as an in-person and an on-line experience. ​

In addition, Avalonia Festival’s Circle of Champions​ i​s a celebration of our Award Winning films with personalized Awards for each film. This is no copy and paste job​ for these Awards​! A lot of work goes into making the website very unique and to actually provide content and a web presence ​Avalonia ​filmmakers can be proud to be a part of!

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We will share our Award Winning Films ​at Avalonia Festival II on April 20, 2018 ​in a really great venue called Rhodywood Studios ​in Providence, RI ​with cozy seating, great picture and sound and complimentary snacks. Even better? Free admission for the audience. Winning filmmakers who are able to attend will have a few moments for a Q and A with the live audience.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Films must be 11 minutes or under to qualify as a “Short Film”, 3 minutes or under to qualify as a “180” film or 60 seconds or less to qualify as a 1 minute movie. We have many categories available to honor all types of films from doc to horror drama to music video to comedy to all points in between. We even have genres for films starring animals. We have no preference whether a film has already premiered at other festivals or is available online. We do prefer if the filmmakers allow us to share their film on our actual website, a status which is both optional for each film and can be changed down the road if need be​ with notice from the filmmaker​. Teasers, film posters and film photography may also enter in their own specific categories.

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

I can’t speak about the fairness of other festivals across the board because there are literally thousands if not tens of thousands of film festivals out there in the world. However, I will say, having entered many festivals myself and being both successful and, at times, disappointed, with my experiences, here are some lessons:

1) Art is a subjective medium, especially film. Being rejected by one, or even a thousand, film fests does not make any particular film “bad.” So do not be discouraged if your particular film is not a “festival darling”. Keep making movies!
2) Some films, quite simply, are just better geared for festivals, given whatever “trend” or “mood”, is going on at the moment of selection. So, that is not to say to conform your style or content to whatever is trendy, but just to say to “give yourself a break.”
3) Look over the fests you are entering and see how they match up in content with what your film is. For instance, there are fests that play specifically to low budget, edgy material. There are fests specific to Vampire films. There are some fests are fests with categories specific for Women Filmmakers, various ethnic groups, LGBQT etc so keep that in mind when choosing which fests to enter.
4) Also, considerations may be made by some fests for filmmakers within driving range of the actual live event. ​It’s more exciting to think that the actual filmmaker will be there in person, and so festivals may have a natural instinct to honor films geographically closer. ​
5) Shorter films usually have an advantage just by logistics. Feature films that have a possibility to make money are much more likely to get a distribution deal of some significance and shorts play better in fests. These things can change, though.

What I really tried to go from the get-go with Avalonia Festival is to have an online presence that honors both the filmmakers and the worldwide audience. If someone gives my website two hours of their time, they can really feel attuned to what the Avalonia Alumni is capable of. I ask any other film festival to show me a better​ -​ or more engaging – and free online – experience than Avalonia Festival.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I wanted to provide a festival that would be the type of festival I would like to be a part of as a filmmaker myself.

I wanted to have a festival that had a website that actually gave the name of the winning films and even shared these films online for the biggest possible audience, beyond the seating capacity of whatever venue was used for a live audience. I’m not sure why so many​, otherwise wonderful, ​film fests have​ such lackluster or vague websites but they do. Anyone who wants to hire me to run their film festival website is encouraged to contact me and I’ll help them.

The other motivation is that Avalonia Festival is intended to bring views to my own project Distance from Avalon​ ​which is my Gothic narrative story about a school teacher and his philosophy about parallel universes. When people look into Avalonia Festival, they are also encouraged to look into Distance from Avalon.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

So far, so good. I found FilmFreeway to be very user friendly as a filmmaker myself, and its entry process helped me win about half of my film and TV Awards. Running Avalonia Festival on it is also​ relatively​ easy, time consuming at times, but nothing I can’t handle. ​

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

That’s a great question. My ideal scenario were to be a global expansion and by that time, the Distance from Avalon films will have been made and I’ll be a highly respected and cherished individual. So we will see.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

By now, Disregard the Vampire – A Mike Messier Documentary.

I’ve probably seen the most, because of the three years I put into it. This doc, which you may share with your readers, Matthew, directly lead to the creation of Avalonia Festival. Beyond my own work, Highlander, a fantasy time travel piece from 1986, starring Christopher Lambert, is the film I have seen the most and always enjoyed it.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film exhibits a personal standpoint or observation of the world that both challenges and engages an audience.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

The film scene is my exact city of Wickford, Rhode Island is more or less myself but about 20 minutes north of me my friend Tommy DeNucci of Cranston, RI is getting ready to shoot Vault, a major motion picture in the gangster genre with big names and an hour south of me our mutual buddy David Gere is producing several big action and horror films out of Cromwell, CT. Between the three of us, there are some nice things happening.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Banks Helfrich (LIFE SCREENINGS Festival)

This 80 minute event goes beyond movie night and into a shared experience which includes films, filmmakers, lovers of film and engaging conversation. International filmmakers are Skyped in to partake in an encouraged, relaxed exchange of ideas.

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

Banks Helfrich: Life Screenings exposes filmmakers to inquisitive audiences. Through Skyping, it also fosters direct feedback for the filmmaker.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

Life Screenings is an exploration of life through film. Audiences receive direct contact with the filmmaker’s minds through a thorough talkback.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Life Screenings criteria encompasses two qualifications: 1. All films must be under 15 minutes; 2. All films must show a world that we want to live in.

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

I can only speak for Life Screenings and we specifically search out films which meet our criteria.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Life Screenings sole purpose is to share a world that we want to live in through film; to connect filmmakers and film lovers in a conversation to better understand each other.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The FilmFreeway submission process has been thoroughly helpful in connecting filmmakers from around the world to us.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Life Screenings 2023 will be in every major city in the world; it will be invited to the top attended film festivals in the world to curate at least one two hour block; it will be invited into people’s living rooms to share with others in a communal intimate atmosphere.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Amelie

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is one that has a connective quality of specificity in telling a story based on the human condition. In other words, it’s story.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Orlando has a thriving educational film scene with three colleges. It is exploding with students learning to tell a story with moving pictures.
 

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Larry Rosen (Northeast Film Festival Horror Fest)

Northeast Film Festival Horror Fest showcases top independent films in the genres of horror and thriller, from established filmmakers as well as new talent. The high quality films, selected by a committee, includes features and shorts as well as screenplays. The festival is hosted in Teaneck New Jersey at the historic Teaneck Cinemas; with an after party to relax and network during the festival in style and spirit.