An interesting time in the life cycle of a film festival. Yes, it does quiet down a bit at the AIFF offices, as our staff is back to the core of five, and there are so many less volunteers around (we miss you!). The pace slackens a little, we have room to breathe, and the time to put into place improvements, new ideas and systems – we actually get to check off (some) of the items on our “to do” lists that we keep during the crazy busy months… And budgets, grant writing, etc. etc. don’t really care which season it is! As a result, staff remains busy all summer long.
On the programming side, it’s time to start the cycle again. I recently created a new spreadsheet for 2010-11 to track all the films I’ll see this year. I attended the Los Angeles Film Festival and Palm Springs International ShortFest in June and have a long list of films to add to the list. Programming was excellent overall at both fests. Hopefully, some of the films will be coming to a theater near you this summer (WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, FREAKONOMICS) or to a festival near you next Spring (TBA!).
I was on a “Meet the Programmers” panel in Palm Springs with fellow programmers from American Cinematheque, Outfest, SXSW, Seattle, and Sundance, moderated by John Anderson of Variety. We covered lots of topics, including the “personality” of our festival, helpful hints when entering films, what makes programmers happy, and not (hate mail!). We fielded a number of questions from the very full house. Filmmakers wanted to know all kinds of things from whether there is a length of film more likely to be considered (no agreement on this from the panel) to whether hard copies of press kits are still necessary (unanimous “no”) and the future of on-line submissions (exciting potential).
Last, but certainly not least, we are looking ahead to April 7-11, 2011 and our 10th annual festival. It’s definitely a milestone for us, and we are in the midst of planning the celebration. Save the date – it should be a great year to attend the AIFF!