In an age when the success of a film often depends on the net profit gained from big-time directors and cable distribution packages, film festivals offer us an exciting opportunity to support independent filmmakers.
In film festivals, ambitious actors and directors bring unique stories to the masses outside of studio influence.
Popular festivals such as the Seattle International Film Festival, Sundance and New York Film Festival have become meccas for independent filmmakers to practice their craft. For those who still don’t see the value of these events, think about films such as “Run Lola Run,” “Whale Rider,” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” All of these acclaimed films premiered at film festivals, and could have gone unnoticed otherwise.
You might just catch one such gemat one of these upcoming Seattle film festivals.
Ticket Admission: $10 for most screenings
The Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF) presents the opportunity to learn about, examine, and discuss South Asian issues through the lively and stimulating medium of film.
The festival, which began on Oct. 4, kicked off the season with its opening night showing of “Miss Lovely,” a film focusing on two brothers, Vicky and Sonu Duggalin, who make and distribute sex horror flicks in Bombay. Set in the competitive and occasionally corrupt culture of Bollywood, this film is based on the fragments of a left-behind documentary in India. The film is director Ashim Ahluwalia’s first fictional feature, which had its world premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Also being shown is “Celluloid Man” on October 12, which celebrates Indian film heritage. The 150-minute feature, which was directed in 2012, weaves together the dazzling archival footage of some of India’s classic cinema with new works to demonstrate the contributions of P.K. Nair. Nair is a world-renowned Indian film archivist and conservationist who founded the National Film Archive of India in 1964, and has been its director since.
Ticket Admission: $8 or $7 for students
This festival’s 2013 mission, according to its official website, is “to exhibit a series of short and feature-length documentaries and narrative films broadly related to social justice, with a special focus on prisoner justice in the U.S.” These sentiments will soon be brought to life in the festival’s opening night picture, “Mothers of Bedford.” Directed by Jennifer McShane, this documentary depicts the lives of five women in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and examines how their roles as prisoners and mothers intersect. In the process of making the film, Mc-Shane spent four years visiting the prison in order to document the lives of these women. Released in 2011, the film has gained a great deal of attention recently, being shown across the country as awareness of women prisoners has increased.
Other films at the four-day festival include “Minor Differences,” which deals with the evolution of five juvenile offenders eighteen years since they had been locked up in a maximum security facility, and “Welcome Nowhere,” a documentary that plunges us into the lives of gypsies in Bulgaria who face poverty, discrimination, and a government that continually neglects them.
Ticket Admission: $12
This 18th Annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is sure to be a success yet again as it continues its tradition of exploring important and earnest issues facing the LGBTQ community. The festival begins its ten-day run with the opening of “I am Divine,” a documentary following “Drag Queen of the Century” Divine’s “humble beginnings as an overweight outcast into an internationally recognized drag superstar.” Although the drag queen died in 1988, the documentary shows how Divine has lived on as a cult figure in the LGBTQ community, and continues to be an inspiration for celebrities such as actress Ricki Lake and director John Waters.
Other films include “Getting Go: The Go Doc Project,” which deals with an intricate romance that grows out of the New York City club scene, and “Frauensee,” which tells the love story of Roza and Kirsten in Berlin and their welcoming of two curious students into their lives.
Ticket Admission: $11
“Dedicated to fostering an informed, aware and vibrant community of film lovers,” the French Cinema Now Festival aims to engage its audiences with a rich, diverse film experience. The festival will open on October 24 with “Blue is the Warmest Color,” a dramatic exploration of 15-year-old Adele’s romantic attraction to Emma, a blue-haired art student The film is based on the 2010 French graphic novel “Blue Angel,” which has won many awards and was recently published in North America. The 179-minute film, which had a budget of €4 million, won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the highest honor at the festival, which has also been awarded to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist.”
Other films include “Grigris,” which deals with one young man’s ambition to become a professional dancer despite his bum leg, and “The Jewish Cardinal,” a film that examines the unique story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jew who maintains his religious identity after converting to Catholicism and even joining the priesthood.
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