Tag Archives: indie film

Going to the Movies, An Oral History Project


As part of DCIFF’s inaugural Oral History Project, Going to the Movies, we have invited bloggers to share stories about their neighborhood theaters and the role they play in their community. Starting us off is Jen G. Pywell, a DCIFF alumni, profiling the funky and independent Darkside Cinema theater in her hometown of Corvallis, OR.


As the owner, Paul Turner, notes, “Two people got married at the Darkside. That and the numerous times people stayed after the shows to talk about the movies. The times where people tell me they could come to the Darkside when they felt there was nowhere else to go when they were depressed, experiencing a loss, upset, etc. because we always treated them the same.”

Click HERE to read the full article.

Going to the Movies, a project of DCIFF, draws on oral histories to connect individual movie-going experience to collective memory, place-making and local knowledge. We are dedicated to capturing, preserving and sharing the memories of the community and historical experiences around an important part of American life. Learn more about the project on our Website and follow us on Facebook.

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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! … It’s a DRONE!

We recently caught up with our On The Hill Summit coordinator, Russell Imrie, after a congressional hearing to discuss Congress’ current stance and future concerns regarding the federal regulation of drone activity. According to Imrie, legislators are angry and hyper-concerned about the safety of drones flying over restricted areas, especially about near-misses with passenger aircrafts. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing heard that about one million UAVs (drones) are expected to be in the air by January 2016. The FAA is overwhelmed by these numbers. Everyone is frustrated trying to find a happy medium between filming rights and safety precautions. There seems to be no easy solution in sight.

Since the February 2015 DCIFF On the Hill Summit, there has been little to no change to the drone dilemma, although the number of exemptions to FAA regulations granted allowing people to use drones has soared from 8 to 1,891: that is 1,883 in 7 months.  All of these “333 Exemptions” derive from a rule that was supposed to be finalized by September 2015 but is still non-existent. According to a recent FAA update, the ruling should be completed by Fall 2016. Meanwhile, the federal government has just announced that all recreational drones must be registered… while the FAA toils away at its rules.

How will this impact the film industry? Aerial footage is an essential point-of-view in so many films, but the process of getting a cameraman in the air on a helicopter or airplane can be extremely expensive and not independent-film-friendly. Unmanned cameras such as drones seem like a natural alternative for low-budget filmmaking, but is it really legal? Yes, and no. There are currently 243 film companies that can legally film using drone cameras in the United States. Although they may have federal permission, the laws are very ambiguous and highly regulated by height restrictions, communication with airport control towers and visibility of the drone. This troubling grey area, coupled with overly complicated regulations, often discourages filmmakers from obtaining a proper license. Imrie recommends filmmakers take a close look at the Federal Aviation Administration and consider partnering with an already approved production company that has been granted the 333 waiver. Partnering with a pre-approved company can significantly lower your risk of flying in the wrong place at the wrong time and jeopardizing your film.

Imrie concludes that, unfortunately, regulations are going to be a mess for a long time and primarily dealt with by complaints and court rulings. Aerial shots don’t need to be eliminated from low-budget films due to cost, but it is important to be up to date on the current regulations to protect yourself and your film.

Stay updated on DCIFF news and events by visiting our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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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