Author Archives: DC Independent Film Festival

DCIFF Alum Looks to Grow Scottish Cinema with Feature Debut

Contributed by Michael Balderston

When David Brown arrived in Washington D.C. for the 2013 D.C. Independent Film Festival, he thought it would be his last hurrah of his film career. After a long and difficult process in getting his short film “A Bird in the Hand” made, Brown wasn’t sure whether he wanted to continue making films. But by the end of the festival the fire was lit again.

“It was wonderful to meet people whose attitude to film was ‘go for it, do it’ rather than the usual, negative or non-interested vibe you can get back home in the UK at times,” said Brown. “It was just a really positive and inspiring experience in truth, which helped me (finally) work out what I wanted to do with my life.”

Seeing the fruits of his labor rewarded also had a big boost to Brown’s career. After premiering at DCIFF, “A Bird in the Hand” played at seven other film festivals all over the world, winning Best Short Film at the Glasgow Southside Film Festival. It also helped Brown get selected to be a part of a producing course in Glasgow, where he was selected out of hundreds of applicants for a special career development program.

Now, Brown is embarking on the next big step in his filmmaking career, his first feature film, “Blue Hour.” An unconventional love story, the film focuses on a grandmother who realizes that her daughter is abusing her child. The grandmother must choose whether or not to reject her child to save her grandson. Brown is producing the film for director Tom van den Hurk.

“I was attracted to the idea that it’s the grandmother’s story and not the child’s or the mother’s,” said Brown. “It’s a unique perspective I believe in tackling the issue.”

The subtleties of the script and van den Hurk’s concept for the story also were a key attraction for Brown. “A lot of films that approach this subject matter do so by having heightened drama, shouting matches and explicitly showing the violence… it’s not just a straight forward tale of abuse and reaction… it’ll be one of those films, hopefully, where the more you watch it then the more you will get from it.”

Things are moving along with the production with a talented crew of both emerging and established talent from the Scottish film industry. There is also hope of bringing on a very respected British actress on to play the grandmother. Location scouting is underway in Glasgow.

Brown and his team are using social media and crowd funding to help raise money and awareness for the film. Facebook and Twitter are key parts of their strategy to spread awareness, as well as a campaign on Indiegogo with a number of interesting incentives for those who donate. You can check out their page here – www.igg.me/at/bluehour

Brown is also currently developing another feature film with fellow DCIFF alum, Nicholas P. Richards, with hopes of getting back into the director’s chair sometime soon.

“I’d also like to establish a more artistic and thought provoking cinema in Scotland,” says Brown. “I’m passionate about making films in Scotland, but I’d also like to visit more of the world and make something totally different each time really.”

A lot has changed for Brown since he arrived in D.C. and thought his film career was over. A renewed passion has him excited for both “Blue Hour” and whatever may come after it.

 

DCIFF Kicks Off Submissions for 2015 Festival

We are proud to open submissions for our 2015 DC Independent Film Festival, running this year from February 25th to March 1st. For the 15th year, we are thrilled to support the film community not only in DC, but around the world.

DCIFF is unique in several aspects. The first being we are the oldest film festival in the DC-area but also entirely volunteer-run. This means we give your film the personal attention it deserves by taking the time to watch every film submitted. Not just by one reviewer but by our festival director as well to ensure your film is  fairly judged.

We also do not pre-program our festival around a specific genre or theme. This gives us the freedom to accept any film, from any country, in any language, or genre no matter the length or subject (minus any pornographic content). As a result, we receive top-notch animation submissions which shows to a sold-out crowd year-after-year. We can also première experimental or art films that aren’t necessarily confined to just the screen, including installations or music performances. We are also happy to announce we will be continuing both our Summit On the Hill and High School Student Film Showcase this year.

As for a few housekeeping items, we always like to remind our potential filmmakers that to be eligible, your film must be premiering in the DC Metro Area and cannot be available online for free once selected. We want to make sure that you have the best crowd possible but to do this we need to be able to build buzz around your amazing film.

Interested? Great! We thought you might be. Head on over to our submissions page for more information about fees, deadlines, and forms. We will be using Withoutabox again this year for digital submissions in addition to Submittable which will be live within the next week.

Looking forward to seeing all your wonderful films!

Two Screenings and a Sendoff for Paat

One value we tout highly at DCIFF is helping our films live past the festival. In the past two months, we have been fortunate to partner with BloomBars in Columbia Heights to rescreen Paat twice. If you haven’t had the privilege of seeing the film yet, Iranian director Amir Toodehroosta’s feature film debut is not to be missed. Paat follows the titular character, a charismatic canine with a three-foot view of society’s discretions.

Both screenings drew intimate crowds followed by highly engaged discussions led by Executive Director Deirdre Evans-Pritchard. While it is nearly impossible for Toodehroosta to receive a travel visa to the US, the filmmaker preemptively sent his own Q&A prior to the screening, providing excellent background and color to the discussions.

paat 2For example: to some it is general knowledge that in the Islamic world dogs are considered unclean and to call someone a dog is one of the worst insults. It may come as no surprise that it is actually illegal to keep dogs as pets in many Islamic countries. A unique cultural aspect to keep in mind while watching the film is keeping a dog as a form of rebellion or as Toodehroosta said in his Q&A, “dogs are at a loss between tradition and modernity.” Toodehroosta intelligently uses his film to make this point by juxtaposing human behavior with Paat, “Which is really impure? The dog or some humans around us?”

paat 3During filming, Toodehroosta faced several issues. “Some producers, as soon as they were informed of the film’s theme, refused to invest because they were afraid the film might be banned.” This fear led Toodehroosta to even keep his actors in the dark about the film’s duration which he originally told them was going to be a short “because we didn’t want them to have to stress for a feature.” They were informed the day before filming.

Unsurprisingly, the film was banned in Iran so many of Toodehroosta’s own countrymen haven’t seen the film and it is difficult for him to tour the film. Here at DCIFF, we were glad to do our little part. We look forward to seeing Paat prosper on the festival circuit and wish Amir the best in his career moving forward.

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Day Two at DCIFF 2014

Before we jump into yesterday’s activities, we want to highly encourage everyone to join us tonight for the DC Premiere for 3 Mile Limit. With your ticket, you can join our happy hour at the Navy Memorial from 5:30 to 7:15pm including New Zealand wine and beer, meat or veggie patties from Kiwi Cuisine and 60’s rock and roll music. It’s going to be a blast!

Day Two was an action-packed day here at the DC Independent Film Festival. First, we held our annual “On the Hill Summit,” including a panel discussion about options for addressing the needs of independent film and media production as impacted by U.S. regulations for crowd-funded enterprises.

We opened Wednesday with the short film Handle with Care and then held the East Coast Premiere of Despite the Gods. Though director Jennifer Lynch could not make the festival in-person, we were delighted to be able to host a Skype Q&A session at the Navy Memorial Theater.

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Family, friends, filmmakers and film-goers then arrived for Red and the World Premiere of DC-native Marcus Richardson’s Sons of the City, followed by a lively Q&A with filmmakers and stars. Be sure to check out all our images on our Flickr page and hope you can join us this weekend.

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