Note from Publisher. Note from Guest Editor.
Upon graduating college I found myself entering a world completely unfamiliar to me, one with no rules or regulations. I encountered a whole new stratosphere of knowledge, one that did not require books, exams, or papers, but instead simply required undivided attention. I found myself enraptured by carefully curated documentary films that premiered at local film festivals. The films, in turn, helped to mold my perception of life and society, based upon the experiences, knowledge, and accomplishments of the esteemed documentary filmmakers.
These films were my new school of thought. I acted, planned, and achieved based upon what I had learned.
This concept embodies the pure power of independent films, and more specifically, documentaries. This issue is dedicated to that very notion which brings these films to light in the public eye. With that said, I am pleased to introduce one of our most comprehensive issues to date, MMJ. ISSUE X: International Film Festivals.
With an invitation to this years prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, we dove into the festival world with unbridled joy. The films that premiered in Park City addressed world issues of climate change, and in particular, societal behavior and the changing of traditional lifestyles internationally. Setting the tone for this year’s premiers, the festival featured 50 first-time directors, and an increasing number of films made by women.
“I didn’t know how to make this film” a repeated notion by several filmmakers in this issue, embodies the very concept of great documentary filmmaking, it is about exploring into the unknown, taking the dive, and hoping everything comes out just right.
This issue of MMJ, I am proud to say, is vast in its curation of the impact, both large and small, that film festivals are making on an international scale. From interviews with noted individuals from the Sundance Institute in Los Angeles, to the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands, we find that there is something new to be learned at every corner of the world.
Our Moderne Day Series continues this month with Xan Aranda, featured as this issues Moderne Day Filmmaker. Aranda speaks on her award winning film, Andrew Bird: Fever Year, and premiering it in over seventy film festivals throughout the world over the past 14 months.
I will let you explore the vast array of other intriguing articles ranging from a new film exploring Esquire magazine in the sixties, to the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at LACMA, to a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming premiers and professions in the industry.
I would like to give a particularly big thanks to our wonderfully accomplished guest editor this month (and my mentor in the film world), Leslie Feibleman, Director of Special Programs and Community Cinema for the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Orange County Film Society. Leslie truly was the moving force behind this issue, guiding it in its accuracy, and curation of films.
This issue, as always, would not be possible without our team of great writers and contributing editors, who truly mold each issue to resonate with a tone of sophistication and class.
Image Credit: Reza Ardalan
It takes passionate filmmakers, dedicated festival organizers, ambitious local host cities, enthusiastic filmgoers, supportive corporations and generous donors to make festival gatherings happen by the thousands worldwide.
A daily infusion of film, art, music, design and photography can activate creative instincts, stimulate the neurons in the brain and nourish the soul. I am honored to present the International Film Festival issue as guest editor, and would like to thank Mode-Moderne Journal for the unique opportunity.
I see the film festival as a place to celebrate all forms of global cinema, to communicate new ideas and to push boundaries. While several of the well-established festivals serve as a marketplace for filmmakers to obtain distribution deals or as a place for studios to promote their latest releases, other festivals serve simply and beautifully as a welcome forum for emerging filmmakers to show their art on screen, to present a particular genre or theme, to voice original perspectives or elicit a call to action. From grandiose to intimate, festivals represent the convergence of art, technology and community. Festivals offer filmmakers and filmgoers an opportunity to connect and enjoy the local flavors, urban setting and culture of a region. Festivals boost tourism and cement cultural and civic pride.
How festivals exhibit cinema and the theater experience itself has changed over the past decade. Despite the advent of state of the art, digitally equipped luxury cinemas, some filmgoers still crave the authenticity of the ‘retro’ or historic art house theatres with the crackling noise of the 35mm projector in the background. Museums, libraries and makeshift outdoor screening spaces also offer alternative ways to view cinema and ultimately expand the offerings of festivals beyond the traditional theater setting.
Implementing creative initiatives for filmmakers and educational programs for attendees keeps the flow of innovation and artistry alive. With the “DIY” movement in full force, filmmakers today now have a repertoire of tools and opportunities available via crowd funding, digital distribution and a plethora of social media platforms. Programming relevant films requires extensive research and an understanding of cinema as an art form and of the festival’s existing and potentially untapped audiences. A festival filled with an eclectic and fresh slate of films, thematic showcases and newly unearthed films from lesser-known regions of the world keep filmgoers intrigued.
Filmmakers submitting to festivals should conduct careful research of the festivals on the circuit to find the proper fit. Originality, aesthetic value, a compelling storyline and meticulous editing remain high on the list of festival programmers selection rubrics.
Festivals should strive to engage young people as filmmakers, critics and participants. By forming partnerships with non-profit organizations, festivals can make themselves accessible to people of all ages and income levels through outreach programs. Filmmakers work around the clock and often risk their lives and financial stability to capture images with their cameras and tell personal stories from their heart. Each film represents a vision, a dream.
In MMJ. ISSUE X: International Film Festivals, we salute filmmakers, artists and documentary subjects portrayed in the films. We salute festivals from around the world that stay true to their core, embrace independent cinema as a viable art form, empower filmmakers and add artistic vitality to our cities and our lives.
Image Credit: Heather Feibleman