Free State Festival Director Marlo Angell attended the Seattle International Film Festival last week to attend the Film Festival Alliance’s Regional Roundtable. The Film Festival Alliance (FFA) fosters collaboration between mission-driven film festivals around the world and the Free State Festival is honored to be a current member of this organization.
This weekend’s series of discussions centered around the key relationship between festivals and filmmakers – our primary stakeholders. Topics discussed included: standards for best practices, ways to increase transparency, and methods for giving filmmakers a voice at the table. With the art of filmmaking at the heart of the Free State Festival, we are always looking to improve the festival experience for our artists, audience and contributing partners. The opportunity to network with, and learn from, festivals from around the country has given us new ideas for refining our signature event here in Lawrence, Kansas and we can’t wait to share our love of cinema with you during Free State Festival 2018 – September 18 – 23!
“The trip to the Seattle International Film Festival for the FFA Regional Roundtable was extremely inspiring. By listening to other festival organizers share their experiences, I feel better prepared to take on the challenges facing our event here in Lawrence. The landscape of cinema exhibition is always changing. We need to find out what works and what needs to change so that we can best evolve and adapt to current trends in distribution and make special effort to put equity at the forefront of our mission. Festivals play such an important role in developing a community’s media literacy. It’s important to keep them going so we can not only nurture our homegrown film scene but also stay connected with our friends and neighbors through the art of storytelling.
It was especially meaningful for me to experience SIFF as a festival-goer. Simple things like the way you enter the theatre, the act of talking to other passholders in line, and casual conversations with visiting filmmakers in the lounge truly mean as much to your overall enjoyment of a festival as much as the films themselves. I was impressed by the smooth transitions and outstanding film selections of this long-running festival and will take note of those aspects I appreciated while organizing this year’s Free State Festival.
Of particular interest to me personally as a curator was experiencing the Virtual Reality Zone. Ticket holders enter a space where short films and interactive experiences are available on individual headsets. This new art form puts an interesting spin on traditional filmmaking. Our focus here at Free State Fest has traditionally been on shared art experiences, so having a unique individualized experience with the film medium turns that on its head in an interesting way. I’d love to look into the potential of having VR at future festivals to give our audiences something new to try.
Of special note – it was a treat to see one of last year’s FSF filmmakers SJ Chiro as the official podcast host of SIFF! I had a great time reconnecting with her at the party for the must-see documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Also wonderful was reconnecting with one of last year’s short filmmakers, Kalee Forsythe, who is now living in Seattle and working in the film industry after being inspired by SJ’s film, Lane1974. There are few things as wonderful as seeing the connections that began in a matter of days at a festival have a creative life outside of the event. It makes the heart full and the journey filled with purpose!”
– Marlo Angell