Saturday, March 10, 2007

Omaha Film Festival 2007 - memories

Following are a few of the fond (or maybe not so fond) memories from this year's festival.

The question, heard numerous times throughout the weeks preceding the festival, and several times during the festival: “When are you going to screen the screenplay entries?” Umm, how exactly would we do that? Yes, we do have a screenplay contest as a part of the festival, and yes, all of the finalists are given all access passes to the festival, just like the filmmakers, but how exactly do you screen a screenplay? As soon as we figure out how to do this, we will consider it as a part of the festival. For now, we will continue to screen films, and not just words.

A low point in the festival for me was seeing a festival attendee in the hallway of the theater vomiting profusely during one of our screenings. I watched all of the films and I didn’t think any of them were that bad! In her defense, she was only six years old and she wasn’t feeling good before she came. Her mother apologized and I expressed my relief that it wasn’t our films that made her sick.

I guess since I’m mentioning low points, I can mention how I was initially excited about the fact that we had one wireless remote control that controlled all of the projectors that we used and how I thought it was cool that it came with a black screen feature so that we could darken a particular screen while swapping media, but I guess we didn’t realize that the beam on that remote is pretty strong and can go quite a distance. I will say no more on that subject, but our projectionists will know what I’m talking about, and the people that watched 30 seconds of a blank screen during one of our films will also know. Or they’ll think it was just an artsy choice by the filmmaker. Actually yes, that’s exactly what that was, ignore this paragraph.

A huge highlight for the week has to be the party spots that sponsored the festival. The Icehouse, Julio’s and the Pizza Shoppe all put on fantastic parties for the filmmakers, all access pass holders, and our volunteers. After two nights in a row at Julio’s (that offered free margaritas for ticket stub holders) and two nights in a row hearing that bell, the attendees walked away with a great impression. So much so that during the awards ceremony where we ran our sponsor reel, the Julio’s slide actually received a huge ovation.

My favorite part of our festival (and any festival for that matter) is always the involvement of the filmmakers as they travel in support of their films and interact directly with the audiences. I loved all of the Q&A sessions that we had with our filmmakers this year. A few that stood out included the second screening of “Divided We Fall” where a Sikh family was in attendance and got involved with the filmmakers and audience. Also, the second screening of “Darius Goes West” was especially moving (see previous blog). The most animated Q&As were the locally produced films “Independence” and “Out of Omaha” because of the number of people involved with each film in attendance and the number of people in the audiences.

These are just a few of my memories, there were certainly lots more.


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