Interview with Festival Director Juri Koll (Fine Arts Film Festival)

The Fine Arts Film Festival (FAFF) is dedicated to showing the finest films in the world about art, photography, collectors and artists of all mediums in and out of their studios, galleries, museums, public art, and alternative art spaces. This includes video art, curated as a film medium.

For more information, go to http://www.thefineartsfilmfestival.com/

I recently met with the Festival Director Juri Koll to talk more about the festival.

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

Juri Koll: We provide a wonderful audience for films that focus on art or the art world in some way – which is a very niche place in the film world. Lots of films of this kind are lost in the mix of film festivals so we provide a place to showcase these kinds of films.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival?

Juri: You will see films here that you may never see anywhere else in the world. Sometimes they screen with us before a quick run at theaters.

The location for the screenings is the historic Beyond Baroque Theater in Venice, California, long renowned as a hub of creative endeavor in Los Angeles, and Southern California in general.

You will meet exceptionally creative filmmakers, artists, musicians and literary artists of all kinds, along with your usual film crowd, as many of the filmmakers who work in the studios and independent productions houses live and also work in Venice. Plus it’s a block or two from the world famous Boardwalk and the beach, so there’s plenty to do after you’ve seen the films!

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Juri: Film subject matter must be related to the art world in some way, whether it be art and artists in or outside their studios, collectors, galleries, museums, public art, and alternative art spaces or other art related subject. It can also be a video art piece itself, which may be accept to be curated with others for a film debut.

Films must have been completed after January 2, 2014.

Other than that it can be any kind of film – narrative, doc, experimental, music video, art – anything that speaks to creativity.

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

Juri: Yes, in our case that’s the reason we created the Festival – because these kinds of films are sort of lost in the mix of all the great films you can see when you go to festivals. I think films about artists – especially documentaries – are often overlooked because people feel they have probably seen one and seen them all – that could not be further from the truth. The films we show are dramatic, funny, witty, jarring, crazy, creative, emotional, awe-inspiring, heartfelt, and real.

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

Juri: A love of and belief in the creative spirit in everyone. We love artists because we are artists.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Juri: We’ve gone from a small regional festival with a few entries into a truly international event in the place we believe to be the center of creativity in the arts in the entire world right now – Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, Venice is known as one of the top creative hubs of the city. It’s got a century long history of making art that has impacted the art and entertainment worlds globally.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Juri: We hope to move to a larger venue next year, and perhaps by 2020 we’ll be in multiple venues across the city. We’re working with local museums to bring programming to them as well.

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

Juri: That’s a tough one. Apocalypse Now, perhaps. Maybe Rocky. There’s lots of them.

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

Juri: A film where each shot and each cut are done for a purpose, where the whole film becomes the story, where you remember the film long after you leave the theater.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Juri: We are the film capital of the U.S. and the world, so our standards are the highest anywhere. The scene is dynamic, vibrant. Constantly – 24/7 – projects are being talked about, bought, sold, started and completed…

and sometimes never completed. We live where dreams are made. People here will help you our on your project if you just ask – you just have to be honest, open, easy to work with, and have a great idea.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Juri Koll Bio:

Along with regularly curating and managing traveling exhibits, and exhibiting his paintings and photographs, Juri Koll produces and directs documentaries on artists and other art world figures. He has produced and managed feature films such as Texas Heart (Lin Shaye), Until The Music Ends (Slash, Chrystal Method), American Cowslip (Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Rip Torn), Hardcore Hearts, and The Truth About Kerry (Stana Katic). Juri has produced and/or directed over 90 short films, both fiction and documentaries. His films have screened all over the world, in over 70 festivals, including Cannes, the Cork International Film Festival, the Australian International Film Festival, and won many awards. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and a regular signatory to SAG/AFTRA.

After graduating from California Institute of the Arts with majors in Fine Art and Filmmaking, Mr. Koll produced the first Art/World documentaries from 1990 – 1995. He worked with major curators in their museums and galleries, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. His subjects included world famous and infamous artists and curators from the Renaissance period to the present. Recently, Juri’s first documentary, In The Steel: A Portrait of Mark di Suvero, (1991), was accepted into the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution. A Founder/Director of the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, which produces FAFF, he recently curated the traveling show Water Works, which exhibited at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, CA in Fall, 2015, and presented films from FAFF at the LA Art Show at the LA Convention Center in January 2016. For more information: juri@veniceica.org