Interview with Festival Director William Strang-Moya (OCEAN CITY FILM FESTIVAL)

The Ocean City Film Festival was founded in January, 2017. Hosted by the Art League of Ocean City, this festival is a regional affair that allows both community engagement and networking for artists.

http://oceancityfilmfestival.weebly.com/

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

William Strang-Moya: This film festival is ultimately going to expand the demographic of these filmmakers. It is truly providing them an opportunity to lay the groundwork for an emerging film culture within the Delmarva region.

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

This is the inaugural year for the Ocean City Film Festival. A person attending can expect mainly an incredibly diverse selection and the chance to personally engage the filmmakers that will be showing their work.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The qualifications are few for this year’s festival. We have an animation category, short film category, feature length category, and youth category. We seek work based on its uniqueness, diversity, and its coherent purpose for being a film. However, we do offer various awards for films. Such as a judge’s choice and audience choice. Then there is the “Pink Flamingo” Award for the film that most uniquely represents Maryland life. The “Celluloid Crab” award goes to the film with the best use of analog equipment or practical effects. And last we have the “Inky Tentacle” award for the best screenplay.

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

I don’t think that films will always get a fair shake anywhere, really. As film, to us, is ultimately viewed as an art, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. As someone who is fresh out of film school, I can say that for the longest time I have had to craft my films in a way that would appease my professors as opposed to my artistic inclinations. It is truly shameful that as a collective, film cannot be approached with a more open mind as Hollywood has set such specific standards for how films should be executed. When it comes to festivals, films have a lot of opportunities for due recognition, but as a whole, I do not feel too much at liberty to speak on behalf of how complicated the relationship can be between filmmakers and festivals.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We are motivated by a number of things. My partner Kristin Helf(Festival Co-director) and I have been shooting films in the area for a while now, and even as a native, I am constantly amazed by how readily the community embraces film-making and allows for individuals such as ourselves to come in and work on our films. So we are really motivated by the idea of establishing a culture for filmmakers in the region and awaken the local artists so that a network can be established.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The process was intimidating at first, but we are fortunate to have gotten a good committee of judges and a coherent color-coded flagging system to sort through the entries.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020, I see the festival at its third year, with larger venues, and bigger names attending.

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

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is a film that is both personal and purposeful to the filmmaker and its audience.

How is the film scene in your city?

I currently live in Baltimore and with the Maryland Film Fest going on, the film scene is present and active. Ocean City however has no film scene. The closest film scene can be found about an hour away in Rehoboth.
 

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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.

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Interview with Festival Director Warren Workman (Family Film Festival)

The Family Film Festival will take place this summer at the Covey Center for the Arts. They will be screening films and producing 3 short films the week prior to the award program. Come join in the fun with the entire family in Provo, Utah.

http://www.familyfilmfest.org/

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

Warren Workman: At the Family Film Festival we are cultivating an environment for young filmmakers to learn the skills it takes to tell great stories through cinema. By providing a venue for them to learn the skills and watch films by great filmmakers, we provide a well rounded experience to help anyone dive into the family friendly filmmaking genre.

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

Expect a different vibe at the Family Film Festival than you are used to. You will see a lot of young children running around in the lobbies and cheering and laughing along with your film. We provide a relaxed atmosphere while showcasing films in our posh theater to audiences of all ages.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are looking for family friendly films so if it would fall in the G-PG or TV-G to TV-14 area then we are the festival for you. The films are selected by a committee of parents and kids that are looking for films that entertain, inspire, and educate audiences without alienating younger viewers.

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

Not at all. We work with several festivals and see that each film is viewed by multiple members of a selection committee. However some films just don’t make sense for all film festival. A film probably wont get accepted to a horror genre film festival if it is a feel good family comedy. Filmmakers would see a higher acceptance rate if they submitted their projects based of what the festival is looking for. Its always a good idea to see if the festival is a good match for the film before submitting.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Provo City asked us to help bring a film festival that would resonate with their younger family demographic. Having young children ourselves we have found it difficult find events that cater to the entire family. We are excited to present and event that is fun for everyone no matter their age.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We have had a tremendous response! We had 50 submissions come through in our first week since we opened our call for submissions. Almost every single one of the films and screenplays submitted is exactly what we are looking for and we are excited to start programing a wonderful first year.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We would love to see the event grow into a week long festival tradition bringing grandkids and grandparents into the same theater to provide a unique educational experience.

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

Other than the annual watching of “It’s a Wonderful Life” I have probably seen “Sound of Music” more than any other film.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

If a film can connect with me on an emotional level, thats what makes a great film to me.

How is the film scene in your city?

We currently have 21 films/series being filmed in Utah County right now. It’s super busy here if you in the film business.

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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed
Screenplay CONTESTFIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) Screenplay CONTEST
Submit the first stages of your film an

I, DANIEL BLAKE (USA 2016) ***** Top 10

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

i_daniel_blake.jpgA middle aged carpenter who requires state welfare after suffering a heart attack is joined by a single mother in a similar scenario.

Director: Ken Loach
Writer: Paul Laverty (screenplay)
Stars: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy

Review by Gilbert Seah 

British director Ken Loach is one director that constantly makes films about the country’s social problems – be it child services (LADYBIRD, LADYBIRD), the working class (RIFF-RAFF) or growing up poor (KES his first and best feature film, SWEET SIXTEEN). In I, DANIEL BLAKE, his new film, the setting is Newcastle where the Geordies speak with their accent. The accent can be understood as the actors speak slow enough and enunciate clearly but the film still comes with English subtitles.

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns, who won this year’s BFTA Award for Best Actor for this performance) is caught in a rut. The government services are sending him in circles and he is out of patience and money. After Daniel suffers a heart attack, he is on the dole. But he is ‘sanctioned’ and has to show that he is applying for a job to keep his benefits. But he cannot really work because of his heart condition. It does not help that Daniel is not digital by default, i.e. he is not familiar with using the computer. While at one of these meetings, he meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother who has moved from London to Newcastle with her two children because she is finally given a flat to live in. The two poor souls become good friends – each helping each other out.

There is a nice tune in the film called “Sailing On” by Ronald Binge. The tune has a great significance as Daniel’s late wife used to tell him while sick with him looking after her: “All I want to do is sail away, with the wind at my back.” These words will have again special significance at the end of the film.

Unlike a lot of films about social problems, Loach’s film (written by Paul Laverty) shows that there are still good people around – even in government offices, particularly in the scene when one sympathetic officer, Ann (Kate Rutter) offers him, for the first time, decent and heart-felt advice.

The most important message of the film is uttered no less than by Daniel himself. “When you lose your self respect, you are done for.” But the film shows how difficult it is to keep this self-respect and honesty. His neighbour, a black nicknamed China (Kema Sikazwe), finally had it and starts selling sneakers mailed from China selling them at 80 quid while these same shoes are found sold in stores in the high street at more than double the price. Daniel frowns on China. The film shows easy money could come by like an opportunity knocking at ones door, though it may not be a good thing. Katie’s children are in dire need of essentials like food and shoes. She opts for the easy way out like shoplifting (though she does get caught) and later on more desperately as an escort. Daniel finds out. The confrontation scene between the two on the subject is deeply emotional and gut wrenching to watch.

Ken Loach shows that a film appearing so simple with no special effects, cheap theatrics, sugar coating or pretentious dramatics can turn out to be so moving and absorbing. I, DANIEL BLAKE is a great film. It took away the Palme d’Or this year at Cannes. Bring lots of Kleenex!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahWgxw9E_h4

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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: THEIR FINEST (UK 2016) ****

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

their_finest.jpgDirector: Lone Scherfig
Writers: Gaby Chiappe (screenplay), Lissa Evans (novel)
Stars: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy

Review by Gilbert Seah

 Danish director Lorne Scherfig broke into the international film scene with his first film ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS and has continued to impress both audiences and critics alike with films like THE RIOT CLUB and AN EDUCATION, these two films demonstrating his flexibility in his subjects. His latest is again a grand piece of fine filmmaking, a period piece that celebrates the role of women (seldom seen in the war genre) during the Second World War.

The film based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans and written by Gaby Chiappe puts the female into the picture. The main protagonist is Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton star of films like ORPHAN and THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS), a “slop” scriptwriter, charged with bringing a female perspective to war films produced by the British Ministry of Information’s Film Division. Slop is the degrading term given for ‘women’s talk’. Her current project is a feature inspired by stories of British civilians rescuing soldiers after the retreat at Dunkirk. Catrin’s artist husband (Jack Huston) looks down on her job, despite the fact that it is paying the rent. At least lead scenarist Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), who at first pokes fun at the female effort appreciates her contribution.

There is one great dialogue in the film that celebrates the romanticism of movies. “In war, some do not come back home at all. Some come back heroes and some do not come back as heroes. The film that is to be made must make it worth the audience’s time to sit through it.” These are the words that are used to inspire the making of this otherwise propaganda film that would eventually turn the lives of many a British citizen. The film is used to create patriotism to send the men to fight in battle and the women to work in the factories manufacturing ammunition and weapons.

Performances are all impressive all round, led by both Bill Nighy as a pompous past his prime actor who is never afraid of showing off and Gemma Arteton in the title role. Jeremy Irons in a cameo (praising the power of the dramatic arts) deserves mention in one of the film’s funniest segments.
Besides the lovely period detail of the costumes and sets, the look of war-torn Britain is also magnificently created – reminiscent of the best of war films like John Boorman’s HOPE AND GLORY and Guy Hamilton’s BATTLE OF BRITAIN. The film in a film is to be shot in Devon, Devon standing in for Dunkirk where the film in the film is set.

One great and memorable British propaganda films is Alberto Cavalcanti’s 1942 effort WENT THE DAY WELL? (one of my favourite films of all time) where British housewives discover their village invaded by German paratroopers posing as English soldiers. The Brits must have put in quite the effort in their propaganda films. THEIR FINEST is also really funny in may parts, making the drama totally entertaining for both sexes despite the female slant.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id0HEelDIuk

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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: RIVER & OAK, Documentary

Played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Festival

  MOVIE POSTERRIVER & OAK, 13min, Canada
Directed by James Malekzadeh

As Toronto’s Regent Park Housing project is demolished and rebuilt for the second time in its history, two women reflect on the complicated past of their neighbourhood. Through archival footage, the past is brought to the present and the audience is left to decide whether the current revitalization is the best solution for the residents of this often overlooked community.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This Canadian gem, directed by James Malekzadeh, speaks closely to anyone who has ever been affected by urban sprawl. River and Oak follows the lives of a handful of honest, hard working humans who lived and loved Regent Park before the area’s housing project was demolished to make way for upscale (and highly priced) replacement housing.

The interwoven stories of two women show their connection to the place and the people, now pushed out of their historical homes.

Gentrification is a hot topic anywhere that housing is at a premium. While it may boost economy and local real estate, the human displacement is another issue. A population linked to the city by employment, family or any other necessity must remain in the area but where do they go?

River and Oak can not give us an answer to that question. All it can give us is a human look at real people who remind us that your postal code does not reflect the content of your character.

Passionate, strong and hitting-close-to-home, River and Oak reminds us what it means to be neighbours and what forgetting that can cost.

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Film Review: GULMARG- PARADISE ON EARTH, Documentary

Played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Festival

  MOVIE POSTERGULMARG – PARADISE ON EARTH, 14min, Australia
Directed by Cassie De Colling

A portrait of a small once wartorn mountain village that has been discovered as a new frontier for western ski tourism. The film explores the past and the future that Gulmarg is undergoing.

Review by Kierston Drier:

 A once war torn area in the now ungoverned mountain range between India and Pakistan, Gulmarg sits, nestled in snow. This film, coming to use from Australia via director Cassie De Colling, follows the inhabitants of the simple town and their largest tourist attraction- Winter Sports.

Gulmarg- Paradise On Earth boasts stunning footage, gorgeous cinematography and beautiful landscapes. But it also tells a story of cultural clash. The primary tourists- Globetrotters from all over flooding into the small village- bring stability and steady income into the area. Yet the also bring ways of life that are not shared by the locals.

Drinking, intoxicated partying and imbibing in certain foods do not mesh well with the religious inhabitants. While the tourists are welcomed, and even encouraged to do the things that make them happy, (and promote the local economy) of Gulmarg, it is not without tensions.

A film about cultural change in the wake of holiday fun, Gulmarg- Paradise On Earth reminds us to take a deeper look at the land we tread on and the neighbours we share. All while showing us the gorgeous topography of the staggeringly beautiful world we live in.

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Film Review: THE SAD MONK, Documentary

Played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Festival

THE SAD MONK, 11min. Germany
Directed by Diana Frankovic

Following this path to Nepal, we meet the young Tibetan buddhist monk Tenzin, a representative of a new generation, who is grappling with the questions of life and his religion. But instead of enlightenment, we find doubtful young monks who are asking the same kind of questions about their lives as we do about ours.

Review by Kierston Drier:

 Coming to us from Germany, The Sad Monk directed by Diana Frankovic, follows Tibetan Monk Tenzin and his journey through the corporal world. Monks’ are considered followers of faith, aspiring to higher purposes and searching for greater goals than found in the material world. This is why The Sad Monk is a rare find- it showcases the struggles one must face when committing to a life of higher aspirations.

Tenzin joined the Monastery as a young boy, but as he grew, so did he yearnings for the outside world. We see him weaves his way through the emotional up and downs of a life of solitude, a lack of material possessions, sexual frustration, longing for close personal friendships outside of the monastery, and a desire to see the world. As Tenzin even states, Monks must do everything alone, even experience joy.

What is most captivating about this bright and brilliant piece, outside of the fascinating character of Tenzin and the unique approach to his life- is the music. We may often think of a mon living a life of quiet reflection, but Tenzin lives in a world of vibrant sound. The bustle of the towns and streets surrounding the monastery are ever present, perhaps a constant reminder of what lives just outside of Tenzin’s reach. A poetic and beautiful look at one human life and the sacrifices made in the pursuit of our faith.

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