Monday, June 11, 2012

How a Film Festival is Like a Genre Book Convention

During the past four days (Thursday - Sunday), I attended the Breckenridge Festival of Film. My husband and I had "Peak 10" passes that got us into ALL of the screenings, filmmaker forums, and parties. This was the first time I've attended a film festival, and I was struck by the similarities between film festivals and genre book conventions, as well as by the similar effects the electronic age is having on both the film and book industries.

The filmmakers' forums at the festival were very similar to the author panels at genre book conventions, but there were only two forums. The majority of festival attendees' time was spent watching films, with brief moments between films for Q & A with someone associated with the film (could be the director, producer, screenwriter or some combination). The parties every night, where fans could hob-nob with filmmakers were very similar to those at book conventions, where readers can hob-nob with authors. And, like authors at book conventions, the filmmakers were busy making connections with each other.

Below are a couple of photos from the event. In the first, I have my back to the photographer, and I'm chatting with Doug Wolens, the director of The Singularity documentary, at the Filmmakers Welcome party at Burke & Riley's Irish Pub. In the second, my husband is mugging for the photographer at the Technopolis Now! Premiere Party at Kenosha Steakhouse.

As for similar effects the electronic age is having on both the film and book industries, independent art film theaters are succumbing to the same economic pressures as independent bookstores. Filmmakers at the festival were bemoaning the reduction in the number of screening venues, much like authors are bemoaning the lack of signing venues. Also, independent filmmakers are beginning to bypass traditional distributors and are selling their films direct to the public through on-line retailers, much like "indy" self-published authors are doing with on-line ebook retailers. My feeling is that independent films and electronic books are going to follow the path that music has taken in the last few years, with most of the sales eventually taking place on-line. We live in interesting and exciting times!

Below is a list of some of my favorite films from the festival (and the awards some of them were given). I hope you'll find a chance to see them soon.

- Raid of the Rainbow Lounge - Best GLBT Award, documentary about how Fort Worth, TX, transformed its treatment of GLBT citizens as a result of this event
- The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising - Best Documentary, about the disabled skiing movement
- The Last Race - Best Short Drama, about organ donation
 - Bobby Ellis is Gonna Kick Your Ass - Best Short Comedy
- Trade of Innocents - Best Drama, about the child sex slave trade
- Off the Rez - about a young Native American basketball star who becomes the first in her family to attend college
- Incest! The Musical - a short comedy that one attendee likened to 'a snarky episode of Glee'
- The Assignment - a short comedic coming of age film
- Chicken with Plums - a full-length French drama about a talented musician who loses the will to live after his wife breaks his beloved violin
- Money and Medicine - a documentary that examines the waste that pervades our health care system
- Tracer Gun - a short drama that I describe as a creepy romance
- Cadaver - a short animated love story with voices by Christopher Lloyd and Kathy Bates


Greg I. Hamilton said...

Thanks for the recap, Beth. As a filmmaker fresh off of several other festivals this year, I think Breck did an excellent job of cultivating those great hobnobbing moments where artists and patrons could connect. I for one came away very inspired and motivated. Cheers, Greg

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Greg! My husband and I really enjoyed our chats with all of the filmmakers we met.