Interview with Festival Director Harlan Whatley (WEST TEXAS FILM FESTIVAL)

The purpose of the West Texas Film Festival is to screen diverse films from both directors and producers that would not normally be featured in West Texas as well as regional media makers. We seek short films, documentaries, features, animation and student films as well as screenplays from all over the world that have the pioneer spirit of filmmaking. We are a registered nonprofit organization in the State of Texas.

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

Harlan Whatley: We bring regional filmmakers together in West Texas so they can share ideas with filmmakers from other areas such as New York City.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

A good mix of films about Texas, international films, students films and documentaries. We don’t have bands and a lot of parties as we are focused on the films.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

5 minutes minimum in length, English or English subtitles, and all films should be completed after January 1, 2018.

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

Yes, for a number of reasons. Maybe the selection committee was biased in some way, the time slot for a screening. Things like that.

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

The Permian Basin is known for oil and gas production. Other than movie theaters, we are one of the few film outlets in the area.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Excellent. They provide so many tools for our film festival managers and staff that make the process run very smoothly.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Hopefully, it will be larger and include both Odessa and Midland and have more funding and sponsorship.

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

The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Bunuel. I discovered it in college and have seen it a dozen times or so.

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

The ability to capture and audience’s attention and keep them entertained all the way to the end.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Most people here are watching mainstream, family-oriented films at the theatre or on Netflix.

Interview with Festival Director Lisa Diersen (EQUUS Film Festival)

The EQUUS Film Festival is the world’s premier showcase for domestic and international Equestrian Content feature films, documentaries, shorts, music videos, commercials, training and educational materials, art and literature.

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

Lisa Dierse: The EQUUS Film Festival is the only Equestrian themed film festival that includes equestrian art, literature and music. We also have an On Demand platform for our content that gives filmmakers access to audiences after the festival. We are a touring film festival, after our main fest in December where our WINNIE awards are distributed we spend the following year

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

A wonderful introduction into the world of equestrian films and documentaries.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Must be horse content.

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

For sure, horse themed film and documentaries get looked over all of the time! That’s why the EQUUS Film Festival was created, to give these filmmakers the respect they deserve.

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

Love of horses and being able to show the world their beauty through film.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Wonderful, it has made my job as festival director a whole lot less stressful!

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We will be expanding our Global reach through more international Tour Stops

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

The Black Stallion

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

A film that has the ability to bring tears to your eyes one minute and make you laugh out loud the next.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Great, it’s Chicago!

Interview with Festival Director ELOY Cedric (Cambodian International Film Festival)

The Cambodia International Film Festival (10th Edition in 2020) is the most significant and industry driven film event in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Every year, the event features prominent pictures and hosts guests from Cambodia and abroad. CIFF is aimed at sensitizing audiences to the Art of cinema, promote innovative international film making in various forms and present quality productions made in and about Cambodia by national and international filmmakers.

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

ELOY Cedric: For Cambodian filmmakers, the Cambodian International Film Festival (CIFF) is the main international platform where they can be visible for festivals, distributors, buyers. Since we started in 2010, we have never seen so many Cambodian film in Festivals around the globe.

For foreigner who have shot a film in Cambodia, we offer a platform that link them to Cambodian content and we usually host a premiere opportunity with cast and crew who have worked on the film, or for documentaries, the topics are subject to discussions.

For other international filmmakers we, are one of the most diversified and open-minded Festival in Southeast Asia. We have over 130 films and have an increasing popularity among Festivals or press interested in Asian or Southeast Asian Cinema.

2) What will attendees experience when they attend your upcoming festival?

CIFF is a wide event as we are spreading in 10 venues around Phnom Penh, including one giant outdoor venue.

Attendees can grab a tuku-tuk (local transportation) and jump from one screening to the other with a very wide choice of venues and movies each day for 6-7 days.
We have feature, shorts, documentaries, animation ranging from independent / Art House film to commercial films. Each year we have one or several country focus, master tributes, special themes, Hollywood Premiere, the best of Southeast Asian features, workshops, panel discussions.

We have a free entrance policy which is becoming less and less usual. For each screening, half of the venue is free and the other half is 1.25 USD. In this way we allow young Cambodian to see movies for free and people who want to come just before the screening can buy a ticket and be sure to have a seat.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We choose films that can be accessible to Cambodian audience in terms of topics and narration. We also connect Cambodian filmmakers with different way of filmmaking in Asia, creating networking opportunities for filmmakers around southeast Asia to know each other and possibly work together or at least know each other’s work.

Although we have some Premiere, we do not require International Premiere, world Premiere or such requirements. We want CIFF to be a friendly event where attendees can easily meet attending filmmakers, and enjoy the booming city of Phnom Penh’s nightlife and restaurants.

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

Sometimes there is a tendency for festivals to choose films which have been in other festivals, making trendy films and other that don’t get to any. Well to us, it’s important to have some recent quality films which have been recognised by larger Festivals but it’s also important to propose other types of films, more commercial sometimes as to let people know what neighbouring countries produce and what audience like.
We love genre movies and did have programs on horror, comedy, action, love. These more commercial films attract different kind of audience who then end up watching short film program, serious documentaries, animation…As we propose that diversity, our audiences mix and discover films they would not normally watch.

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

When we started in 2010, the concept of Festival was little known in Cambodia, a country that did not have one proper cinema left and produced very few films. Nobody understood why we spent money, energy and time to create a film festival.
We work in collaboration with the Bophana Center, founded by Oscar nominated French-Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh, an organisation working on film heritage of Cambodia and contemporary production, and also with the Cambodia Film Commission which attract and assists international productions in Cambodia. These two organisations have a common goal of boosting and developing the film industry, the network and platform that CIFF offers serve this goals among other benefits.

We gathered 1,000 people on the first year, each year it increased greatly, today we have over 20,000 audience ! It’s the youth of Cambodia that is curious about the world and in demand of good content compared to traditional media channels in the country.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We started CIFF by receiving DVDs and paper forms, and moved to online platform about 5 years ago and tried different ones.

We must admit that online platform really facilitate the work for filmmakers/producers/distributors but also for us as a Film Festival. Film Freeway’s interface for us is the best as it’s very quick to find the information, select, communicate, preview the movies.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Phnom Penh is a booming capital city so I see the Festival growing and growing with it. When we started in 2010, there was not a single DCP theatre in Cambodia and now we have 80 screens and more are to open ! it’s changed a lot. So we are confident that the CIFF has a huge growth potential.

Also local productions are investing more and more in ambitious production and target international markets, so having CIFF to launch and promote movies is a must have tool and most of them today support and understand more and more the role and function of film festival as a non-commercial production platform.
Phnom Penh is a dynamic cultural platform in southeast Asia, the youth is demanding more and more international events and opportunities to discover other culture. Cinema is the perfect medium for that. But CIFF is each year a challenge to finance as it relies almost entirely on sponsor’s support, we hope that the booming economy will allow us to find long term partners and support.

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

I’m not sure if it’s THE BIG BLUE by Luc Besson, or John Sturges THE GREAT ESCAPE with Steve MacQueen or the first, misunderstood and underrated STARSHIP TROOPERS by Paul Verhoven.

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

A great film makes you stay in your chair, because something tells you that something is going to happen next.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Cambodia had an incredible Golden Age of cinema in the 60’s as the former King Sihanouk was an artist and a filmmaker. At that time there were over 40 cinemas in Phnom Penh alone and more throughout the country, there was a star system, maker vendors would all go to the movies once in a while and there as so much energy in this yéyé period. In the 70’s the brutal Khmer Rouge regime destroyed all of it, annihilated artists and facilities, it took until the 90’s to see movies come back with the age of video.

Today the industry is still young but booming with the country, half of the population is under 30. in 2010, there was not 1 short films, now we have over 50 each year. It’s great. Also in the last few years, Cambodia was on screen in Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Amsterdam, Busan Tokyo. Cambodia also sold its first film to Netflix last year, so things are going into the right direction.
 

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Interview with PR Director Suzanne Curry (RIDGEWOOD GUILD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL)

Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival is in its ninth year of celebrating excellence in US and International independent films.

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

Suzanne Curry: We offer an atmosphere of comraderie and personal service. Our committee members strive to meet with every filmmaker. In many cases, we establish personal relationships with them. Some of them come back year and year, and we really enjoy watching them grow.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

Whether you are a filmmaker or a patron, you will get the opportunity to meet with the filmmakers. You’ll get to see a lot of great films at the cost of one regular movie ticket. You’ll see films you may not have had the opportunity to see elsewhere. For instance, this year we are showing Oscar-nominated Roma for free. We also have shorts that are premiering. We also have the premiere of a new movie called Hollywould, by Joshua Coates. It stars Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated actor Eric Roberts, who will be coming to the festival and the After-Party. Every year we attract Hollywould talent.

Oh, and anyone can pose on the Red Carpet!

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We take the time to review every film that is submitted through Film Freeway. We judge each on it’s own merit, using the overall qualities that make a good film. Subjects do not matter, we strive to take a variety of genres and cover different subjects. Some years we wind up with films that have the same message. This year it seems several of our films have messages about the new social aspects of today’s society.

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

We had more submissions than ever before. I think that every film festival looks for certain things. We wish we could have selected more but for a smaller festival like ours – and the big ones have this problem also – there is only so much screen time available! We like to take a variety of genres, and we also like to showcase local talent, especially students. I find it very enjoyable watching all of the films that are submitted. I get to hear new voices, experience new views and see what’s on the cutting edge of videography and cinematography.

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

Our committee members are all volunteers. What we all have in common is that we love film. We love being a part of this world. We love giving new filmmakers a theater to show their work in.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s an excellent platform.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Hmmm… well we are in our 9th year this year, and we are already planning our 10th. Each year we get more and more films and more people. By 2023, I hope we are still doing what we are doing and that more people look forward to the festival each year, without us having to spread the word so much! It would also be great if we went a third day at the theater, as we have more films than screen time. Sponsorships would help that, so by 2023 I hope we have added to our list of continuing sponsors.

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

Oh that’s an easy one, Love Actually followed by Home Alone. Actually – I think Home Alone may be the tops just because it is a movie I can watch with my whole family at the holidays. I am currently co-producer of a new film, A Case of Blue, that is being Executive Produced by Scott Rosenfelt, who produced Home Alone. So happy to be able to work with him. That film puts a smile on my face each time I watch it and is synonymous with the holidays with me family.

Rom coms are my favorite genre. I have my summer rom com viewing list and my winter/holiday list. I like to escape with movies and laugh. There’s enough bad news on every other channel these days. days.

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

What makes a great film? A film that you are so engrossed in, you don’t want to get up to go to the bathroom or get a snack (or that you put on pause even for a few seconds to get up), one that you can’t figure out the ending, get so emotionally involved in that you forget you’re not in the movie, and then, one that you want to watch again. I remember the first time I saw La La Land. I didn’t want to leave the theater… I couldn’t believe the ending. So I sat there with the girls half my age who were balling their eyes out and not getting up. I recall one Gen Z saying “That is the best movie I have ever seen.” A great film just hits you in your gut.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

We are near NYC, that will always be the the hub but many students at NYC schools live in Ridgewood and the surrounding towns, so there is a lot of talent here.

Link to our site: http://www.RidgewoodGuildFilmFest.com
 

Bio:
 
Suzanne Ordas Curry has owned her own PR firm but as of late has been in show biz, producing and marketing independent films and series. Because of her love of film, she volunteers as PR Director and a judge for the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival. She also owns a site which covers films and young filmmakers, www.BehindtheScenezz.com.

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Interview with the KanivFest Kaniv International Film Festival

Festival  designed to create a powerful cultural – educational platform that aims to unite Ukrainian and foreign film makers and introduce viewers works with professionals and amateurs.

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1. What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Kaniv Film Festival succeeds for filmmaker at monetary awards and advertising especially for the Ukrainian State Film Agency and different film production studios.

2. What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

If you attend Kaniv Film Festival you will get:
– a lot of communication with actors, producers, cameramen and other persons, who involved to movie industry;
– different master-classes connecting the filmmaking processes:
– impressed by the beautiful landscapes and friendly treatment;
– a new friends.

3. What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The films of any genre direction and timekeeping are admitted for participation (Short 25 min., a full meter to 90 minutes.), the production not before 2 years of the festival conducting (not before 2016). For films in a foreign language, the subtitles in Ukrainian and English are the requirement.

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

Speaking about our festival, we hope that our jury finds quality films.

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

Firstly we want to give a chance for filmmakers to get their names and their films known in movie industry. And we also want to do the powerful platform for communication between filmmakers.

6. How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Everything was ok. Thanks to FilmFreeway we got a lot of international participants.

7. Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We have a lot of plans. We are improving all the time and we are trying our best for the people who works in cinematography world. We want to see a lot of both Ukrainian and international participants present in our festivals. We also want to attract experts who will share their experience. And we also want to give our participants large monetary awards and world recognition. It’s not by chance our mission is- “If you want to get Cannes- let’s start from Kaniv”.

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

We can’t choose just one. Many films left a great impession.

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

To our mind the combination of idea, extraordinary and aftertaste makes a great film.

10. How is the film scene in your city?

In our city we have Movie Theater and outdoor screening.

 

 

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Interview with Festival Director Sasha Santiago (GRID EDGE FILM FESTIVAL)

Grid Edge Fest wants to live screen your short film in Brooklyn, NY. The festival is one part tech conference, two parts community workshops, and a grand finale live screening event as the centerpiece.

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

Sasha Santiago: People generally want connectivity and to be part of a community that feels creative, fresh and original. Grid Edge Fest wants to make an event out of the films it selects. To spotlight films that take on the complex subject of climate change and create a space that makes it accessible to a new audience.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

If you’re like me, you sometimes wonder why don’t people go to movies as much anymore? That last few times I’ve been to a theater, I found it odd how I’m one of maybe a dozen attendees present. Maybe it’s because of the content, maybe it’s the $18 matinee ticket price or maybe it’s the lack of a community.

Grid Edge Fest first and foremost is a film festival, with a series of interactive events that lead up to the live screening event. These include tech talks on innovative breakthrough solutions that look at data as the new fuel of the future (see exergy.energy) to fight back at climate change, as well as family-friendly community workshops that find the fun in educating people on what can be done about climate change at the local level.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Grid Edge Fest wants the best films yet on the topic of climate change or important environmental stories. The films can DIY stories shot on an iPhone or high caliber professionally produced gems, the sincere hope is that people who watch these films would be both united and inspired and that they will leave the festival with a new commitment in their hearts to combat climate change in a manner that truly resonates.

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

Film is an expensive and competitive art form. Organizing a sustainable film festival isn’t cheap nor easy. New film festivals like Grid Edge Fest have a proven failure rate after the first or second year because they don’t successfully find their audience. As far as giving films a fair shake, I can’t speak for other festivals but I’ll presume it has something to do with targeted demographics. Who will make the pilgrimage to the film festival? Usually, the films selected looks like the audience it’s trying to attract.

The film business has been historically ruled by white men from upper-middle-class socioeconomic backgrounds for a very long time, but the good news is that we’re seeing more evidence of that being reconciled as the old guard dies. I think we’re seeing some pretty good strides and small wins (Boomshakalaka!!!) in the last few years but a film festival that stands for just fairness or diversity sake isn’t enough to be sustainable or engaging. The films still need to be good and a festival’s most important job is to offer a well-curated experience.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We’re totally new to FilmFreeway. It’s a cool service, makes it super easy to submit a film. We’re still looking for more short films to be submitted. Each of the short films selected for the Spring 2019 live screening would be considered a winner and be awarded a $250 prize.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Grid Edge Fest intends to constantly reinvent itself in order to maintain agility and flexibility while it keeps its eyes peeled for the oncoming 3° freight train, that’s threatening our planet.

In 2023, we see GEF being a seasonal roadshow style film festival. It’ll be outstanding if GEF would have a structure or mechanisms in place to increase the liquidity of film investment and distribution for filmmakers around the world that might not have easy access to resources to tell their environmental stories.

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

That’s a personal question I’m not ready to answer here but I’ll give you a hint, he may wear a yellow hat and trench coat.

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

A great film is one that you can return to time and time again, like when your hanging with a good ole bud who is aging gracefully with you.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Rent is too damn high and we’ve been losing too many indie theaters because of it. New York City is a constant hustle. When I asked the same question to my GEF film advisor, Joel Fendelman, he told me that this challenge of high rent is what drives half the city to constantly push through anyway. It’s a melting pot of idealists and artists on the cutting edge filled with ambition. Maybe this is why NYC is the perfect place to launch the festival.

To answer your question, I think the film scene in my city is the company you keep and the projects you put your life into and take over the finish line no matter what.

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Interview with Festival Director Iris Gonzalez (THROUGH MY EYES FILM FESTIVAL)

Through My Eyes is an international and Indigenous short film festival that seeks to showcase the stories of Indigenous peoples from all over the world. The festival aims to redefine the word Indigenous, originally meaning “of the land”, and in doing so, create community through the understanding that we are all indigenous to somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re native to the United States, the aboriginal lands of Australia, Europe, Asia, or Africa.

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

Iris Gonzalez: Providing a platform for underrepresented, Indigenous, and international independent filmmakers. In addition to providing this essential platform for filmmakers, we are providing that same platform for visual artists, live performers, and dancers.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

A window into the various cultures of the planet that I am not fully aware of or engaging with. To expand my view on ritual and storytelling.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We accept shorts, 30 mins and under in all genres who identify as Indigenous or stars as an Indigenous person or whose film’s content is based on Indigenous culture.

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

I’m starting to see more platforms for Indigenous stories in the larger festivals like Sundance and such. This is a good thing but I do feel it’s still harder for Indigneous filmmakers to get a fair shake. This is where we come in. We try to reduce the barriers that some other festivals have.

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

Being Indigenous myself as the executive director and an experienced filmmaker, I’ve seen these barriers firsthand. We also know that we greatly learn through the power of story. These filmmakers have extraordinary things to say and the more festivals like us the better.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been an incredible process. Very friendly to a busy team. We are so grateful for the content that has come through it’s portal. Several of our selections have come through FilmFreeway.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We hope to partner with great like-minded organizations to bring this festival to it’s fullest potential and hope to guide others wishing to do the same.

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

Funnily enough, we see such potential in some of our film submission that have many many problems but are fixable. Through working together, we end up watching these films more often than any other films in our lives.

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

The power of the story and the ability to transform our reality.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

We live in the mecca of Los Angeles with great great competition. Which makes it an honor when we see our attendants and the desire for people to want to expand their knowledge about the world around them.
 

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