The Film Festivals of New England, Part One
Written by K. Correia | Posted by: NewEnglandFilm.com
Get to know four of your neighborhood film festivals:
Boston International Film Festival — Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston International Film Festival (BIFF) is now heading into its 11th year. The festival was initially founded in 2002 by Patrick Jerome and his company Bway 7 productions. The festival supports films and filmmakers from around the world in an effort to help bring about a better understanding of cultural diversity. As indicated on BIFF’s website, “The festival’s goal is to encourage and support the work of worldwide independent filmmakers and to promote their products as an art concept and as a valuable contribution to world understanding.”
The ten-day festival is held each year at the AMC/Loews Theatre at Boston Common. The festival showcases feature-length and short films as well as documentary and student films. In conjunction with these screenings, BIFF offers select discussion panels, Q&A sessions with the respective filmmakers and stars, an award ceremony as well as Opening & Closing night gala parties.
The festival is now accepting submissions for the 2012-2013 season. Films selected for the festival are chosen based on the discretion of the programming staff. Awards are given out in the categories of feature film, short film, documentary film, experimental film, and animated film.
The Boston International Film Festival seeks to educate the populace about, not only the diversity of international cultures, but also the diversity of cultures at home. With a successful ten year run and film submissions that continue to grow and vary in style and genre, the BIFF shows no sign of slowing in the achievement of this goal.
Camden International Film Festival — Camden and Rockland, Maine
The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) is the brainchild of Maine native and Emerson College graduate Ben Fowlie. Inspired after volunteering at a film festival during college, and wanting to bring that experience to his beloved hometown of Camden, Fowlie went about developing a festival of unique and original programming that focused solely documentary films.
Having only started in 2005, the festival is already considered to be one of the top 25 festivals in the world for documentary films and filmmakers. In addition to offering Q&A sessions with filmmakers and directors and the parties/social and networking events that normally accompany the screening of festival films, the CIFF also holds musical events and Panoptic, a showcase of experimental non-narrative documentaries, shorts, and audio works.
In 2009, the CIFF introduced the Points North Documentary Forum into the festival lineup. The Forum, which lasts two days, is considered to be the conference aspect of the festival. It features informative panels comprised of, and workshops lead by, Industry delegates from foundations and organization such as the LEF Foundation, Cinereach, and Kickstarter, and production companies such as Back Allie Films and Carnivalesque Films. The forum also offers the opportunity for six filmmakers to pitch their respective projects to funders and producers, which in the past have included HBO, PBS, BBC, the Tribeca Film Institute, and the Sundance Institute among others.
Since its origins, the CIFF has been about the festival experience, the bringing together of people and story. The CIFF has summed up its own story, its mission as this: “We love a good story, and we love sharing them with our audiences. We love the intimacy that can only be found in places where ‘getting there’ is part of the experience. Most importantly we love the intersection of art and community that can only happen in a festival setting.”
With a list of film screenings that continues to grow each year, the Camden International Film Festival is making sure that we all have the opportunity to share in this experience. This year’s festival is scheduled to take place from September 27th through September 30th
Want to know more? Visit their website, and check out their NewEnglandFilm.com Festival selection: Sanjiban.
Green Mountain Film Festival — Montpelier and St. Johnsbury, Vermont
The Green Mountain Film Festival has been a staple in northern New England for the last 15 years. The festival, which takes place during March, is presented by Focus on Film, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using film to educate and create a dialogue among the community, and to support local filmmakers. The organization’s goals, according to the festival’s website, are to provide the public with “film showings of cultural, social and historic interest, sponsor discussions of these films and provide independent filmmakers the opportunity to exhibit their work.”
This year’s festival boasted 80 films and two competitions spread out over five venues in the course of ten days. Both the Margot George Short Film Competition and the Green Mountain 48 Hour Film Slam were added to the festival in 2011. The 48 Hour Film Slam is a filmmaking competition in which teams of six or seven select a genre from a hat, and are given a prop, a line of dialogue, and a specific location which they must use to create a 10 minute film within 48 hours. The films are then viewed by both audiences and judges and awards are handed out to the top three films.
Awards are also handed out in the High School Filmmakers Showcase. This popular program is the result of the collaboration between Focus on Film and Catamount Arts, which expanded the festival to an additional three days in St. Johnsbury. Now in its third year, the program allows high school filmmakers from around the US and Canada to submit their short films and have them judged, not by filmmakers or audience members, but by their peers.
The competitions are relatively new to the education and community-based festival. However, after 14 festival seasons, the Green Mountain Film Festival recently underwent a much larger change this summer with the resignation of the program’s Executive Director, Donald Rae and the subsequent resignation of the entire program board. The new President of the program board is Terrence Youk, owner of the Savoy Theatre, where several film screenings are held during the festival.
While it is too soon to tell what kind of changes will take place with next year’s festival, there has been talk of scaling back the venues used and expanding the educational programing. Youk, is quoted in an In Montpeculiar article posted August 9, 2012 as saying, “The idea is to bring in some younger lesser known filmmakers and fresher films”. What is certain, is that the festival’s commitment to education, community, and supporting local filmmakers will remain.
The Woods Hole Film Festival — Woods Hole, Massachusetts
The Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF) just wrapped up its 21st annual festival this August and still remains one of the most anticipated film festivals in the country. It is the oldest independent film festival on Cape Cod and the Islands, and is a weeklong celebration of independent films from around the world. The festival was originally established by Executive Director Judy Laster and her colleagues who needed a venue to premier their films.
Since then, the festival has been committed to helping independent filmmakers who need a constructive and supportive environment in which to showcase their work. In a previous interview with NewEnglandFilm.com, Laster indicated that the festival is “about independent film and independent filmmakers, we try to give people the opportunity to have their film screened by a supportive audience and take that opportunity and make what they can of it.”
The WHFF also supports filmmakers by maintaining a filmmaker-in-residence program, which is supported by grants from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and the Woods Hole Foundation. In 2011, the WHFF joined in collaboration with GlobalPost.com to create the Documentary Film Spotlight Project, which allows selected filmmakers to showcase either a completed work or a work-in-progress documentary film on the GlobalPost site during the festival run.
The festival has grown into such a success because it offers networking or relationship building opportunities for filmmakers and non-filmmakers alike. The WHFF makes these opportunities possible with events such as panel discussions focused on filmmaking and production and through workshops. This year’s workshops focused on topics such as how to watch and critique films, stop motion animation, and on visual effects.
The WHFF’s relationship with the community is also evident and continues to grow even two decades later. The festival has expanded to include events outside the regular festival dates at the demand of the community. The Dinner & a Movie Film Series and the Monthly Film Series at Cotuit Center for the Arts are just two of these events. The continued popularity of the Woods Hole Film Festival has truly turned a one week summer festival into a yearlong event.