From the heart of the American West, in the cradle of the Northern Rockies, the EQUUS INTERNATIONAL Film Festival fills a niche in international film and media programming with an exclusive focus on the world of EQUUS, and all things equine. It was the first all-equine film event, launching in 2011 with a global view of the equine arena. An outreach project of an equine rescue and adoption organization, our mission is to enhance the equine/human bond and improve the welfare of the horse and other equines through excellence in film, television and other media.
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?
A: It is our greatest hope that the EQUUS INTERNATIONAL Film Festival is giving a voice and a platform to filmmakers for whom equine issues is their focus. For many years, there have been magnificent and important films made about equine topics and issues but there hasn’t been a platform in which to share these incredible stories. Through EIFF, we now hope there is.
MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?
A: Attending the festival this year is an opportunity to both tell your story in a receptive environment, in a place where film and horses go hand in hand because Missoula is becoming a very significant place for film, filmmakers and film festivals. It’s also a breathtaking environment. So we expect great networking opportunities, great exposure for the films and a magnificent place to experience.
MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?
A: As it should be with all films, excellent story-telling, great cinematography, an inspiring, interesting or significant subject. But the centerpiece of selected films is that they tell a great story on an equine issue or subject.
MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?
A: Absolutely yes. Sometimes the judging criteria are skewed. Sometimes there are just too many good films entered into a festival for all of them to get the best judgment on their entry into the festival. In, other words, sometimes there is simply so much competition, such as with film festivals that have hundreds or thousands of entries, it’s almost impossible to pick out all of the good ones.
MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?
A: That’s a really easy question — a passion for the subject matter (equine) and a realization and knowledge that a film festival and the films are incredible tools for raising awareness and promoting an understanding of issues. This is a venue where we can engage, inspire, educate and at the same time provide a platform for filmmakers to share the essence and the “heart” of what they do. That certainly is our goal.
MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?
A: It’s been great – it’s a very easy, affordable way to both receive and review film entries. I think the more we can promote FilmFreeway as a means for filmmakers to get their films entered, it will be a wonderful outlet for film entries. We also love the simplicity and ease of use.
MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?
A: We hope that the EQUUS INTERNATIONAL Film Festival will continue to grow and become a louder and a stronger voice for films on equine issues. We hope to elevate and enhance its impact as a place for filmmakers whose genre is pretty subject specific to network with a wide range of others in the equine arena with a shared interest. We expect and hope to see an expansion of its impact and its outreach and certainly to build the audience that becomes a more global, international as well as national one. This is currently the premier venue for equine film but we would still like to expand our awards recognition, the festival’s benefits to filmmakers and the global reach of EIFF for the sake of filmmakers, equine advocates and many others concerned with or passionate about equine welfare.
MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?
A: Oh, that’s a tough one since I don’t generally like to see a film many times over but because it’s a holiday tradition in our home, probably Gremlins. LOL, no horses in that one but it’s still in my mind, about animal welfare. J
MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?
A: It’s a film that rocks your world, touches you to the core, moves you, inspires you, makes you come away just saying “wow.”
MT: How is the film scene in your city?
A: The film scene in Missoula, Montana is thriving — part of it is probably the incredible setting of the Northern Rockies, some of it is simply that a number of major film festivals had their birth in Missoula, and it’s a creative environment with great subject matter so Missoula is definitely a film capital of the west – casual sophistication mixed with incredible creative inspiration and a backdrop like few others.
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.