I had the privilege of helping curate my first film festival in Colorado this last week. Front Range Film Festival screened three feature films and a eight short films over four days at four venues. It was a pleasure to work with Jessica Kooiman, the Executive Director of the Firehouse Art Gallery, the non-profit organization that produces the festival. She’s a real powerhouse and she’s instrumental in bringing film and culture to downtown Longmont.
Having worked for many film festivals, both nationally and internationally, there are some real pluses to working as part of a small team to create something that feels like a real personal accomplishment…and a few challenges that are eased by a bigger budget, an established audience and a large pool of seasoned volunteers.
Here are a few of my lessons from this particular film festival: Outdoor movie screens may be a marvel of technology, but they require some real brawn AND brains to erect and deconstruct! This particular screen needed to be put up a total of three times over the course of our festival and it wasn’t until the final question of my q & a that I realized that I was in charge of getting it down and packed up…BEFORE I could go enjoy the Closing Night Party!
What a small world it is! As I asked for the final question at The Forgotten Kingdom screening, a young man at the back of the church stood to speak. He said he was from Lesotho, Africa — the setting for the film! We invited him to the stage and the director, Andrew Mudge asked him how he felt the film depicted his home. It was a wonderful, unexpected pleasure for all of us. A special shared experience that is unique to the film festival experience!
Movies may inspire audiences but they also teach lessons to all of us involved in getting those stories to the screen! I had been grumbling about having to go to a separate store to purchase my beer since moving to Colorado but having done my research on Beer Culture, The Movie; I now know that the “one liquor license, one store” is a boon for the craft beer industry. DamNation fired up the audience to take action in support of the removal of obsolete dams and it was a real wake-up call to discover that there is a river in the area that is facing extinction! http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-13030-obituary-for-a-river.html
This festival was a lot of hard work and couldn’t have happened without the great team at the Firehouse Art Center and the St Vrain Habitat for Humanity–co-producing our Closing Night film, The Forgotten Kingdom. And as with any festival, there were many local organizations that pitched in supplies, equipment (like that crazy movie screen!), donated booze (hello Spirit Hound distillery and Oskar Blues Brewery!) and treats (Kim Sorden of Magic Fairy Candles–you rock!) and funding!! Next year will be bigger and better and I’m already excited to get the ball rolling…onward and upward team. We need to bring these films and filmmakers to Longmont…and the whole Front Range! There is such talent here that needs to get exposure and films that are crying out to be seen on the big screen.