Tag Archives: DC

Share the Love for Film and Theater

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Washington, DC is on the map in the international film and theater world. Groups, clubs and societies have been formed in recent years to support the cinematic interests of Washingtonians. We had the opportunity to speak with members of The World Bank / IMF Theater and Film Society to discuss their involvement with DCIFF and the independent film industry.

What is the The World Bank / IMF Theater and Film Society?

Society Members: We were founded by a World Bank staff member about 3 years ago, and recently revamped the group after a diversity event to try to get people interested in joining. We currently have around 100 members from all different cultures and backgrounds that are interested in film and theater. We try to meet a couple times a year in addition to attending plays, screenings and participating in local film events. We always take opportunities to watch films such as reviewing submissions for the DCIFF.

What is your interest in films?

Society Members: Some of our members have experience producing, directing and acting, and then others just like watching films and going to the theater. It’s wonderful to have such people from so many different international backgrounds, but all with a like-minded interest in learning about other cultures through film and theater. We love sharing within the community.

How does the DCIFF group reviewing process work?

Society Members: Once we review the films, we like to meet and discuss what we learned, our personal thoughts about the film and our overall ratings over wine, cheese and chocolate.

What was the reviewers’ overall impression of the films?

Society Members: ‘Where is the love?!’ [laughs]. Most of these films are very dark. They’re filled with death, torture and horror. Although they could be hard to stomach at times, it was interesting to see how you could end up giving the film a high rating based on an intriguing storyline and technical application. The dramatic storylines did make it hard to judge fairly at times. Maybe next year we’ll see more romance and comedies!

Was there anything else that caught your attention about the films?

Society Members: It was interesting to watch foreign films coming from different cultural backgrounds because there were several mistranslations or simply inaccurate elements to some of the stories that took place in some of our native countries. On one hand, it was distracting and frustrating to see the inaccuracy, but it was also fascinating to think about why the filmmaker would include it in the first place. It just got us thinking whether the director did it on purpose or is even aware of the mishap at all. We love that our group is made up of such diverse members. It’s very fascinating to hear the reviews from different cultural opinions. The perspective was completely different and refreshing to hear.

Would you participate in the DCIFF reviewing process again?

Society Members: Definitely! We love having the opportunity to watch movies from around the world and discuss it with our fellow film lovers. The topics are often related to what we do for work with a special interest in international development and communities. It’s really a great way to have a work-life balance that brings us together through a common and fun interest.

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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!

Checking In with Festival Director, Deirdre Evans-Pritchard

Last week, we closed our call for submissions for the 2014 DC Independent Film Festival. We’ve received an incredible response of over 1,000 films from the international film community. Our staff has worked hard to keep up with the flow of submissions to make sure each film gets the attention it deserves. While we understand enthusiasm is high to take part in the festival, unfortunately, we can only spotlight about 60 during our five-day run.

In addition to choosing the festival lineup, our amazing group of volunteer-only staff is busy scheduling seminars, workshops, panel discussions and more. Our staff – willing to donate their free-time to support film and filmmakers – is one of the unique aspects that drew me to becoming festival director. While there are many opportunities to see films in the city, at DCIFF, we prioritize our programming to focus on filmmakers and the benefits they could reap. For DC residents, coming out to see exceptional films is an experience beyond just entertainment which provokes thoughtful discussions and, most importantly, directly helps local talent.

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Our wonderful staff celebrate during last year’s successful festival

Another unique aspect is our accessible submission requirements. DCIFF accepts films of any length, genre or format as long as the content is not pornographic. We also keep submission fees low, encouraging filmmakers from Metro DC and around the world to enter films. We’ve found this gives filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels equal footing in the submissions process. To further increase younger filmmaker participation, we recently created the high school submission category and received a healthy response.

As the festival draws near, stress gives way to excitement! Finalists will be chosen and notified between December 20th and 30th. We look forward to seeing all filmmakers and community members on February 19th!

Deirdre Evans-Pritchard previously worked for DCIFF running the “Filmmakers on the Hill” seminar and the workshops and education initiatives before taking over as executive director and programmer. After many years of promoting media arts and artists, the 2014 festival will be the third straight under her guidance.

Guest blog post from 2013 Best Feature Winner, JD Beales

This week we are excited to be joined by one of our former festival winners for a guest blog post. JD Beales is a Metro area-based filmmaker and executive producer of last year’s Best Feature Film, Oros (The Coin Bearer). To kick off this year’s call for submissions, JD describes his film and experience at last year’s festival:

One truth I’ve found is filmmakers always seek an audience. There was no better feeling than screening our first feature film to my hometown of Washington, DC. Oros (The Coin Bearer) is an international film, shot in the Philippines with an all-Filipino cast and crew. Specifically set in Baseco, Tondo Manila, Oros tells a story unique to Philippine culture. Though this film could have only have been made in the Philippines, it has caught audiences off-guard globally with its universal message of compassion. I am proud of our film and was thrilled to premiere at the DC Independent Film Festival.

In the Philippines, “sakla” is a traditional form of gambling utilizing a Spanish deck of cards. The games afford impoverished families to generate income to pay for burial expenses. In 1978, Presidential Decree No. 1602 was passed into Philippine law eradicating all forms of gambling. Though “sakla” is now considered illegal, some local authorities turn a blind eye, allowing residents to continue playing “sakla” only during wakes. Oros is the story of a middleman named Makoy and his reluctant brother Abet. Makoy and Abet rent unclaimed cadavers from a morgue to stage fake, profitable wakes, taking advantage of law enforcement complacency.

I had a wonderful experience attending DCIFF and have formed strong, long-lasting friendships with other filmmakers, actors, festival staff and attendees as a result. The theater was large and inviting. The movie screen was enormous. The staff was professional and accommodating. The question and answer sessions were well moderated. I was so happy just to be a part of the festival that when they announced Oros as the winner of the 2013 Best Feature Film, I was completely caught off guard.

We are still fortunate enough to be showing Oros at film festivals around the world but look forward to releasing Oros to the general public in the near future.