Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films

My husband and I began visiting Palm Springs in the late 1970’s. We rented a small condominium on Ramon Road near to downtown which we’ve kept for many years. Then we began to explore. From our first visit we knew we would return to the desert many times more and we have. It was then that we discovered the Palm Springs International Film Festival which has become famous around the world. In the words of the Festival’s Vision statement the “….. society strives for a world in which enlightenment, knowledge and tolerance prevail.” The best was yet to come.

In 1994 we happened upon the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films now in its seventeenth year and the largest short film festival in the United States. Now commonly known as The Shortfest, it attracts an incredibly eclectic group of industry people and films which now exceed over three hundred screenings each season from filmmakers from over 40 countries. Last year nearly 15,000 people, two of them being George and I, attended the festival which now includes twenty awards in six categories. First place winners are available to be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and those winners in the action and animation categories are automatically eligible for consideration. Three of the recent films to have been screened are Nine, Precious and the Hurt Locker.

It has been said that the Shortfest, which typically runs in June, is a spin off of the International Film Festival which is held in January of each year but to us it is so interesting and enjoyable that we feel it should and can stand on its own. In fact, almost 50 of the short films have gone on to be Academy Award nominees and each year $70,000 in prize money is awarded and awards are given in the category of the “Best of the Fest” and for us the “Future Filmmaker” category is our favorite.

A Good Story Transcends Film Production Costs

If you have a good story to tell there is no reason why you should not make it into an independent film. With the right film production techniques, the right script, the right people working with you and a relatively small amount of money you can make a low budget movie that can compete with the best of them on the festival circuit at places like Cannes, Toronto, Telluride and the Sundance Film Festival. If your story is compelling enough people will forget that the production value is a bit challenged.

There are people all over this world who never gave up on their dreams to make films, despite the difficulties that came with working outside of the mainstream film industry. They are passionate filmmakers who believe that anyone with a compelling story to tell has a right to make a movie. Through their struggles these diehard filmmakers have created cheaper ways to make movies. This revolution was born out of frustration due to decades of having their creative voices shunned by the big film studios who favored commercialism over creativity.

The commercialism associated with the films that are being released by the major Hollywood film studios these days is very frustrating for any filmmaker who considers their work to be art. Nowadays movies are tested extensively beforehand to ensure that the studio committing hundreds of millions of dollars to it will not lose money. This kind of testing tends to narrow the field down to only a few kinds of movies that they will invest in which means there is no room for new ideas. True artists can never be happy when there are constraints imposed on their methods and subject matter.

A Film Festival For Global Peace

This is an international film festival sans glamour. A film festival sans the star parade, rocking parties and the hype. This is a film festival with a passion-a commitment to make our planet earth a better place to live.

The 7 Islands International Film Festival (7iiff) for Non-Violent Resistance, Global Disarmament and Peace was born in 2006 thanks to the dedicated efforts of a few global citizens residing in Mumbai. Maybe for the first time a film festival was not just restricted to filmmakers. Several socio-cultural organizations dedicated to peace and the Gandhi ideology put in their strength behind it.

Coordination and publicity work was mostly done through the internet. And the response was tremendous. Committed filmmakers from all around the globe joined in forwarding their film videos entirely at their own cost. The foreign embassies consulates situated in India also contributed their might. The issues of the films were a revelation. The legacy of the Martin Luther Kings, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other lesser known and even unknown mass movement heroes was brought alive; strong anti-war commentaries were heard, seen and felt in the films dealing with the imperialist designs of the US on Iraq, the Israel stalemate, the Latin American problems, India-Pakistan brouhaha and so on. A universal condemnation of global terrorism got echoed all around.

New Orleans French Film Festival

For eighteen years, the New Orleans Film Society has worked tirelessly to grace the public with French films. Film festivals, no matter the genre, are important tools to help bridge the gap between lesser known movies and the general public. Even when they are not screening lesser known films, film festivals allow everyone to perhaps consider and even watch movies they would not normally consider attending. This film festival is no different and I highly recommend it for both locals and those who are visiting this vibrant city during the actual French Film Festival!

My husband and I drove Uptown to the fabulous Prytania Theater. This independent neighborhood theater has been existence since 1914! We took our seats and listened to the wonderful live music that was being provided before the screening of a documentary about champagne. The husband is a popcorn fanatic and it’s a great thing that the Prtyania Theater offers free refills on large popcorn! Please keep in mind that the theater is smaller but this in no way makes it uncomfortable. In fact, I would dare to say that it adds to its charm.

The documentary itself, A Year in Champagne, was interesting and fun. There were many quotes that were memorable, mostly because of their witty nature. Although I can only attest and report my own experience, the documentary was rather enlightening. It made me somehow appreciate both the actual product of champagne, but also those that tirelessly produce it. I probably will not be going out to learn the ins and outs of how to produce this bubbly celebration in a bottle myself; however, I do have more of an idea of the overall process and the things that these producers have to worry and deal with year after year to make something we drink to celebrate many of life’s milestones.

The Cannes Film Festival For Tourists

The Cannes Film Festival is the world’s most renowned film festival. It is an indulging event which celebrates the art of acting and films both new and old. It takes place annually in May in Cannes, once a small fishing village, Cannes is now a glamorous and expensive seaside town.

Celebrities attending the festival travel from all over the world, each bringing their own headlines for the celebrity thirsty press. In the last couple of years, top actors such as Eva Longoria, Ryan Phillippe and Hayden Panettiere have been seen there. The most notable celebrity event in 2008 was Angelina Jolie confirming she was carrying twins.

Although regular tourists aren’t permitted to attend the official film screening, which is reserved for filmmakers, actors and the media, it is still possible to get a taste and even watch some of the films in the selection. Following this, tourists can buy souvenir such as posters, t-shirts and other memorable goods in tents which are set up on the outskirts of the festival.

When In Rome Visit The Film Festival

While Rome, affectionately referred to as la Città Eterna (“the Eternal City”), is often visited due to its rich history, its stunning architecture or renowned cuisine, later this month from the 18th to the 27th of October, visitors can experience the Rome Film Festival. Although it is only in its second year, it has attracted a high number of private sponsors, and the City Council of Rome, in the name of the Mayor and film-buff Walter Veltroni, the Province of Rome and the Lazio Region all strongly support it both in terms of institutional communication and economic investment.

The actual title of the festival in Italian is Festa, which could be translated as feast, not festival, and is apt, since it is more a celebration of the joy of cinema than a regular film festival. Indeed, though the Rome Film Festival’s jury includes a renowned director as its president, last year Ettore Scola, the rest of the 50 jurors are not film professionals but are, in fact, regular moviegoers selected both in Italy and Europe.

Although it enjoys fierce rivalry with the Venice Film Festival, The Rome Film Festival has attracted its own audience and this year will host the world premiere of 11 new films. Among the most exciting is ‘Youth Without Youth’ – Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film in a decade. The film is about a timid Romanian professor who becomes young again after being hit by lightning. The five-time Oscar-winning director wrote the film based on a novella by Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade and has been described as his “third renaissance” after ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Godfather’.

Why You Should Attend a Film Festival

A film festival is an extended presentation of movies at a screening venue. It can be on a particular theme, or focus on a specific director’s work. You can often interact with the director, cast, and critics after the screening. It is a great way to meet others who share your interest in movies belonging to a particular genre. New York’s first Dominican Film Festival began this month. It touches on political issues, as well as concerns of the Dominican diaspora.

Some film festivals are free, so you can enjoy viewing movies which may not be available for viewing otherwise. Award winning films, which are international, can also be part of the event. These are usually annual events, organized by cultural organizations.

Look at details of previous year film festivals to understand the kind of movies which are screened by the organizing body. This will help you determine whether they are in sync with your taste. Even if you have watched a few of the films before, you are likely to appreciate the other movies being screened, because they will also belong to the same genre.