Thursday, May 7, 2009

BE FILM Is A Festival to Watch

During film festivals, I gather recorded conversations throughout my stay and then put them into a podcast creating a non linear piece where each show feels like a short film sans the visual part. So, being present as film festival podcaster at BE FILM The Underground Film Festival for the entire festival schedule was a first time for me - there's a first time for everything - everyone's still a virgin at something. It presented a challenge, however, to be present as part of the festival team, set up before the screenings, meet and record conversations with filmmakers, industry and film supporters, watch the films, get home and edit the recording making it sound somewhat balanced and then get it out before having to be at the next screening location and do it all over again. The pace was hectic yet I didn't miss any of the short films because they were just sooo good. As mentioned in my first podcast, I was a virgin at watching 3D films, not sure why probably I just wasn't interested in the Hollywood hype and didn't know very much about the technology. Being the first established film festival in the U.S. to have enough stereoscopic films in competition is an outstanding achievement and surely will put BE FILM on the map of film festivals to watch and for filmmakers to submit their films. 

Having been around the film festival block, I see a lot of high points and pitfalls when it comes to running one and experienced what it's like at the forefront of the pre festival film search and submissions when I worked for Catherine Wyler, artistic director for the High Falls Film Festival. While BE FILM is already established as one of the best short film festivals on the East Coast, the submissions increased as it did after several years with many films eventually getting nominated for Academy Awards. Not a bad reputation to have. But then founder and executive director Laurence Asseraf along with programming director, Dimitris Athos decided to up the ante with a category first and their search for 3D indie films from around the world grew into a monumental task for all involved. Filmmakers sent their films in every kind of format known, technical professionals from Dolby Production Services and Heavy Light Digital came in with their projection equipment and system set ups that had not been invented before and the New York Stereoscopic Society - an assorted collection of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, pioneering souls - collaborated with their combined knowledge and came out in full support Opening Night celebrating an achievement at finally having a competitive platform for 3D indie films. Necessity is the mother of invention? That's what made it so exciting, especially for me because I knew what was going on behind the scenes. The focus was deadline driven where that extra ounce of adrenalin kicks in, they worked nonstop to get it right before a seated audience who waited in anticipation with their 3D glasses on. We were not disappointed. Only after the house lights go on that they realize their being at the forefront of a breakthrough taking technology to the next level, pushing science to the limit where they hadn't gone before. Ideas are already in the works for BE FILM next year as are filmmakers planning their next film in 3D.

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