DCIFF takes Collaborative Art Beyond Borders at Fringe

August. In DC, that means hot, sticky days accompanied by the droning soundtrack of Dog Day cicadas. However, in Scotland’s capital, a very different seasonal swarm arrives with the Perseids – a surge of artists comes for the monthlong frenzy of performance that is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

With more than 3500 shows at over 300 venues, Fringe plays host to thousands of artists from around the world, who, because the festival accepts anyone who wishes to perform (it has no selection committee), are a diverse group indeed, and when they’re not performing they take advantage of the opportunity to mingle, to share ideas, and to build relationships. But will this still be the case at next year’s Fringe, when Britain will have Brexited and created one more barrier between these artists?

Enter DCIFF. In 2016 we screened Train Station, a film by CollabFeature that resulted from a unique process that brought together 40 directors in two dozen countries collaborating independently on segments of one script. “The biggest hurdle to collaborative art is that it easily devolves into chaos,” observes CollabFeature co-founder Marty Shea, “so the key is to create the right structure, tone and community that leads to successful collaboration where all involved have a voice, a vote and shared ownership of the finished project.” This film, we realized, should stand as an example to other artists of how they can erase borders, time zones, and other obstacles to create great transnational art.

And so we presented to the artists of Fringe “Shouting ‘Action’ At A Distance” – a seminar that demonstrated CollabFeature’s solution to global artistic collaboration. Starting with excerpts of Train Station, the seminar continued with a discussion (moderated by Christina Paschyn, journalist, professor, and director of A Struggle For Home, winner of DCIFF 2016’s Best International Film) between the audience and CollabFeature’s founders Marty Shea and Ian Bonner (who, in keeping with the spirit of the event, participated remotely from Michigan), as well as Train Station filmmakers Ingrid Franchi (France), Kresna Wicaksana (Indonesia), and Vania Zvetanova (Bulgaria).

Paul Bruce of the Edinburgh Short Film Festival found it “a fascinating event which was stimulating and clearly full of creative potential” and was particularly intrigued by the “genuine participant involvement” in Train Station.

After the seminar Marty remarked “I’m even more inspired about collaborating than I was before.” We at DCIFF certainly agree.

– From Maria Datch, DCIFF Deputy Director