June 2019 – Interview with NEW Filmmakers from around the world.

9 interviews in total conducted by Matthew Toffolo:

Interview with Filmmaker Ciaran R. Maidwell (THERE’S STILL GOOD)

Interview with Filmmaker Adrian Ramirez Leon (ACCOMPLICE)
Interview with Filmmaker Adrian Ramirez Leon (ACCOMPLICE)

Interview with Filmmaker Robbie Lemieux (THE WOODS)

Interview with Filmmaker Jasper Bronkhorst (BLOODBURN)

Interview with Filmmaker Rachel Econ (WIDOW)

Interview with Filmmaker David Bradburn (BEFORE YOU WOKE)

Interview with Writer/Producer Rana Sowdaey (CAUGHT IN THE SPOKES)

Interview with Filmmakers Marlon Perrier & Keisha Richards Lafleur (THE TALK)

Interview with Filmmaker Michele Manzini (IN THE HOUSE OF MANTEGNA)

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.


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 the Festival Team of Picentia Short Film Festival

“Picentia Short Film Festival is one of the main international shortfilm festival in Campania (province of Salerno, Italy), born in 2017, produced by the Association of Independent Cinematographic Production ACT Production, a young production formed by filmmakers between 19 and 28 years old which have reached in the last two years the finals and the official selections of some main international shortfilm festival. PSFF has got in these years among the patronages and partnerships Campania Film Commission, World Film Fair (New York), JIFF – Jaipur International Film Festival (India), ToHorror FilmFest (Turin).

The festival – edition 2019 – will take place at the end of the next summer in the little city of Montecorvino Rovella, in the heart of Monti Picentini Regional Park, in province of Salerno.”

Short Bio of the Artistic Direction: “PSFF Artistic Direction is composed by Antonio Palo (M. Rovella, 25 y.o., founder and artistic director), Luca Capacchione (M. Rovella, 19 y.o., deputy artistic director) and Erica De Lisio (Salerno, 23 y.o., deputy artistic director), all of them part of ACT Production’s team.



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

Picentia Short Film Festival Team: Picentia Short Film Festival’s goal is to award the talented filmmakers giving them an apposite ‘place’ where they could valorize their works, meeting also the main cinematographic productors and artistic directors of the region. Through our parterships the winners have been part of some international events (as World Film Fair) and mentions: it’s a starting point both for emerging filmmakers and also for successfull ones.

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

I would expecting a relaxing contest where to show your abilities, experiences, stories: in a few words, a piece of your life. Picentia Short Film Festival is made by yuong filmmakers for filmmakers: we’d love to share each other and widespread all of the visions of cinema with the people that still believes in it or could be attracted by this form of communication.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

There are 6 categories/genres: “Horror & Thriller”, “Drama & Social”, “Comedy & Comic”, “Past & Future”, “Docs”, “Music Video”. The qualifications is for short films with a maximum duration of 20 minutes; documentaries with a maximum duration of 52 minutes; music videos with a maximum duration of 4 minutes. There will be two juries (technical and public) who will assign each day of the event – from 11th to 15th September, 2019 – the festival prizes (total combined value of about $3.000,00).

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

I think it’s partially true, that’s why some film festivals have become – with the passing of time – a sort of limited circle for some kind of ideas, artists managements, distributions or for the ‘great possibilities’ of their single filmmakers. I personally – as all of the rest of the artistic direction – believe in pluralism and impartiality. So, being Picentia Short Film Festival neutral in terms of judgement, there’s no distintion among tipologies of budgets, distributions or curricula. Here low budget short films can compete with higher budget and distributed short films: the only evaluetion criterion is the quality.

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

My team and me are very motivated doing Picentia Short Film Festival: it represents the making of the job we love to do and the proof that some young boys could build an international company where skills and professionalism could valorize people and places. We want to be an example for the youngest generations to believe in their dreams.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The FilmFreeway process has been great. It’s a really great platform to view films and super user friendly. We’re proud to be there.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Very hard question… (That’s the first time I’m thinking about!). I wish 2023 festival greater than the previous years, with the same friends and the same values which keep us together. But the first step is now, in 2019!

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

I haven’t a favourite or most-seen film, but I can’t remember how many times have seen Eddie Murphy’s and Ben Stiller’s comedies, Leslie Nielsen’s “The Naked Gun” serie, Steve Carell’s “Angie Tribeca”, Monthy Python’s sketches, and fanta-epic series (as “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings”). Really great movies…

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

The ability to leave into you something deep inside.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

The film and artistic scene is almost, completely absent: a further incentive to reach our festival’s goals.

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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.


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.


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.


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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Interview with Festival Producers Christine Cannavo & Eafat Newton (WOMEN IN COMEDY FESTIVAL)

Women in Comedy Festival is thrilled to partner with HBO, NBC and Showtime’s Frankie Shaw to work towards closing the gender gap in the film and television industry. The festival will feature original comedic content created by filmmakers and screenwriters from all over the world.

March 2019 Screenwriter Interviews

Read interviews with top screenwriters from around the world.

Interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo

Interview with Screenwriter David Sabbath (Dancing in the White Room)

Interview with Screenwriter Ian White (AMARIS)

Interview with Screenwriter Kristina Rezek (YOUR ROARING TWENTIES)

Interview with Screenwriter Ray Cecire (The Prophecies)

Interview with Screenwriter ML De La Garza (Indigenous)

Interview with Screenwriter Gustavo Freitas (Lies, Hamburgers, and Cufflinks)

Interview with Screenwriter Gregory Allen (HE IS GONE)

February 2019 Film Festival Interviews

Best of the new festival interviews for Feb. 2019. And what they link about FilmFreeway:

Interview with Operations Manager Auregan (Paris Art and Movie Awards PAMA)

Amazing : Off to the biggest start we had since the creation of the festival. It’s like people were somehow expecting us to accept entries and… Here we are !

Interview with Festival Director Brent Kado (Chicago Independent Film +TV Festival)

Good overall. The main issues with them is, again, this gluttony of festivals and awards “contests” and needing to do better weeding out the scams and misleading events.

Interview with the Festival team of FILMSAAZ

A great service. Have done wonders for us.

Interview with Festival Director Anastasia Cazabon (GRRL HAUS CINEMA)


The FilmFreeway process as been great. It’s a really great platform to view films and super user friendly.

Interview with the Festival team of FILMSAAZ

Filmsaaz is an annual celebrated international Film Festival organised by the University Film Club of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The festival is one of the largest multi-disciplinary art and cultural festivals in India dedicated to the exhibition of short film, documentaries, music, art and cultural advocacy programs. This 4 days festival hosts the screening of upto 50 differently categorised movies and on the eve of 4th day holds an award fiesta. Thus asserting a down shift in the isolophiliac nature of today’s mind, by uniting them to crave for such hearty gathering.

A legacy of 11 long years, and enormous heart warming memories to cherish with, Filmsaaz has witnessed the presence eminent Indian Cenematic intelligentsia. The 12th edition is all set to deliver, an awe inspiring selection of movies from across the globe. For the past 11 years, Filmsaaz has been one of the ideal events in Aligarh achieving new milestone with every passing year.


Matthew Toffolo: How did you get involved with the festival?

FILMSAAZ: For the aspiring filmmakers, who submit their work at our festival. We specially screen their work at our Kennedy Auditorium, built in our University. With a seating of over 12,000, the work of these Filmmakers is spread all over the city. Moreover, at the last day of our event. We hold a special felicitation ceremony for the films that has been adjudged as the winner in different categories. In the felicitation, the filmmakers are awarded an exclusive FILMSAAZ trophy along with a certificate specially given by our chief guest which is usually a renowned personality from Bollywood.

2) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

FILMSAAZ has always been a festival of movie and drama. Filmy vibes can be felt throughout the 4-day event. From film screenings to photo booths. From musical evenings to eye-catchy decorations. These is nothing that won’t make you stay for a while longer.

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

No, we never think that. All the deserving movies gets a fair chance in competing in the competition. That’s the only reason we’re now getting some good and meaningful movies at international level

4) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In the next 5 years, we definitely see our event as one the prominent Film Festivals around the world. Like the number of International stuff we’re getting. We’ll soon might have more number of International movies competing at our festival than the national ones.

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

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

A great script and team makes a great movie.

7) How is the film scene in your city?

We didn’t had much support for filmmaking in our city. But for the past 4-5 years, alot number of great and enthusiastic filmmakers are coming up with some great content.

8) What are the qualities a programmer needs to select the best films for a festival?

Well, since we all know. Nothing in this world comes easily. We’ve been on a rollercoaster ride everytime. Sometimes, we do get a lot of movie and sometimes, we don’t. But thanks to filmfreeway for making us a lot easier to reach some great filmmakers around the globe. Now, we just need to register our festival and all the other work is done by them.

9) How has your FilmFreeway experience been so far?

A great service. Have done wonders for us.

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