A little bit of demystification

One of the most common questions a film festival programmer receives is… “how do you pick the films for your festival?” And well, there is not a clear cut answer. I wish there was! But in the world of art and creativity, filmmaking, and passion projects, there is an innate level of subjectivity that comes with the process. In my earlier post, “Coming out on top at Sundance,” I discussed the enormous number of films that are made every day, every month, and every year that are submitted to film festivals – especially Sundance. There were 4,057 feature films submitted to Sundance this year, and of those submissions, 118 were selected to screen in Park City. While the Destiny City Film Festival numbers are just a LITTLE smaller than that (read: sarcasm), there are still dozens of films that we considered but ultimately did not select to screen this summer, or could not procure due to a number of circumstances.

We had 162 total submissions (shorts and features) to consider for the inaugural #DCityFF, and ended up with 29 of them to complete our 2014 line-up. Those films came to us either directly (through online submission portals), or as requested screeners that I came across during some intense film festival research. In the DCFF “off season,” I check out programs and award winners from festivals throughout the world, learn as much about their films as possible, and request screener copies for A LOT of them. Our 2014 program includes films acquired through both strategies, and I feel confident in saying that it is a pretty damn good line-up.

If you had to answer the question,” what makes a movie a ‘good’ movie?” what would you say? To me, it’s almost the same as asking, “why is the sky blue?” Because it just is. A movie is good, because it just is; and because it balanced its story, cinematography, actors, script, lighting, soundtrack, and production design, etc. Sometimes there is no way to pin point why someone does what they do well. You just know it when you see it. And believe me, I knew it when I saw all of our 29 films. Our 2014 filmmakers are some incredible forces to be reckoned with, and I have no doubt that their work will inspire Tacoma’s filmmakers to continue to tell their stories.

The Destiny City Film Festival prides and centers itself on good storytelling. In this age of Hollywood blockbusters, full to the brim with special effects and huge budgets, the basics of storytelling (the keystone of filmmaking) often get lost. We encourage a return to the traditions of storytelling (see: Story Alchemy), and have programmed each of this year’s films because they do well with creating a well-rounded story (beginning – middle – end), and not allowing the gimmicks to steal our attention from the meat of their film. That meat, my friends, is the story. A story can be almost anything, and according to Merriam-Webster, it is “an account of incidents or events or the evolution of something” – which any film can *technically* do. But stories should also encourage reflection, education, empathy, AND entertainment. You’ll always remember a good story – whether it be a movie, or something your co-worker told you around the proverbial water cooler (it’s happened to me, trust me!). I know that you won’t forget the films you’ll see at the inaugural Destiny City Film Festival. We have carefully selected our 29 films for the very reason that they present a compelling story – an unbeatable experience, a chance to learn, grow, laugh, cry, think, and finally, to return to the reason we tell stories – to connect and relate with one another, to enlighten future generations, and to provide an experience for our peers that they wouldn’t otherwise receive.

Long live the power of storytelling. See you at DCFF for some good old fashioned stories – July 31 – August 3!

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