Notes from the field: The importance of independent film festivals

Steve Swartz, one of our judges from last year’s GFF final selection talked to us recently about the benefit of film festival, in particular small film festivals. Here is what he had to say:

I would say that the film festivals – and especially the small ones – are the cinematic equivalent of the Irish monks who kept writing alive in the fifth and sixth centuries. If not for these festivals there would only be the Hollywood Hit Factory and its endless sequels and adaptations of comic books and graphic novels.

If cinema is to continue to be a reflection of our times, if it is to continue to be the voice of the dispossessed, the strange, the wonderful, the new, the vibrant – we need to celebrate and support the independent festival. By the time I had my movie at Sundance in 1990 the corporate entities were already taking over; you can only imagine what it’s like now. This isn’t to say that Sundance doesn’t still screen some amazing films, but it’s hardly the incubator for the truly unique, truly special little film that has been produces on a shoestring minus any “names”.

So I say ALL HAIL the small, independent festival. You are the lifeblood of cinema in these benighted times.

 

Steve Hellyard Swartz’s film “Never Leave Nevada” (which he wrote and directed and in which he co-starred) opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in January, 1990. A former two-time Poet Laureate of Schenectady county in upstate New York, Swartz has won numerous prizes for his poetry, been a four-time finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Competition, and won a Green Eyeshade Award for radio arts commentary given by the Society of Professional Journalists. He’s currently putting the finishing touches on a new novel, “Me Who Am Issued Amazed.”

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