Hi All! It’s now Tuesday afternoon and we’re back in cold NYC! I attempted blogging from the Bahamas a few times, but was continuously distracted with festival activities. It was pretty much go, go, go the entire time – though we did manage to fit in a couple hours at the water slide park in the Atlantis. We had a truly invaluable experience at the 2010 BIFF. In addition to seeing several really awesome films, we had the privilege of meeting and getting to know some super talented and thoroughly cool filmmakers and industry professionals. Before I get deeper into the festival experience, here is my photo of the day from Tuesday before we left:
Photo 235 – Bertha – Warrior Princess
This is Bertha. She is one of my regular art class buddies at the nursing home I visit every Tuesday. We’ve actually worked together on several of the necklaces she’s wearing. Here, she’s proudly displaying the Native American headdress she made in a previous class. She was so excited for me to take her picture, she decided to take it to the next level with a little war paint she applied with her bright red lipstick. Bertha constantly cracks me up and always makes my mornings at the nursing home highly entertaining!
Now for the festival…
We arrived on Wednesday morning at around eleven o’clock and immediately met up with some other filmmakers also attending the festival. We were lucky to come in on the same flight as Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck who make up the co-writer/director team that created the wonderful movies Half Nelson, Sugar (this movie blew my mind… rent it on Netflix) and most recently It’s Kind of a Funny Story with Zach Galifianakis (which we haven’t seen yet, but plan to). We had a chance to get to know them a little on the ride to the Atlantis and over lunch. They are super talented and have been really successful making independent films – so this was an exciting start to the festival for us.
After lunch, we ran over to catch the afternoon boat to the filmmaker retreat at Dolphin Encounter. Here, we met up with several other filmmakers and we all had the rare and somewhat disturbing opportunity to kiss (on the lips – if dolphins have lips), hug and dance with a dolphin. Quite the dolphin encounter indeed. We all felt a bit guilty – with the dolphin performing all those silly tricks for us… but our dolphin was adorable and it was a pretty entertaining bonding experience for the group. (Pardon our slightly wide faces… I took a picture of a picture and it looks rather stretched – but you get the idea).
Photo 236 out of 365 – “The Atlantis”
This was our view from the balcony at the Atlantis. We were generously put up by the festival for five nights in the Coral Towers (the original resort building). Across the pools, lagoons and palm trees is the Royal Towers – the newer section of the resort (pictured here). The Atlantis is truly a MEGA-resort. It is like Disney on the sea complete with water slides and a huge casino. Though the mega-resort thing is not typically my thing, we had a great time with the other filmmakers and it was fun spending our little free time playing around in the huge on-site water park!
After our dolphin encounter, we attended a welcome party at the Green Parrot Nassau on Wednesday night, then we headed back to the Atlantis for some snacks and drinks with a great group of filmmakers who ended up being our little crew for the rest of the festival.
Thursday was our chill day. We didn’t have anything planned until the opening film and party that evening, so after sleeping off the previous night’s festivities, we met up with Rass (lead actor, co-writer, producer and director of the AMAZING film The Athlete) – and we hit the water slides and the tubing river in the Atlantis water park. It was awesome!
Photo 237 out of 365 – “Crazy Crustacean”
I took this picture in the “Predator Cave” – which is a tunnel you walk through on your way from the Coral Towers to where the water slides are. It’s really cool… you eventually walk through a glass tube within a larger tank and there are a variety of sharks, rays and other sea creatures swimming around you and over your head.
Thursday night we were invited to a screening of the opening night film Tamara Drewe, a hilariously funny British film directed by Stephen Frears. I don’t know if/when it’s screening in the US – but it was a super fun movie and I highly recommend renting it if you don’t get a chance to see it in the theater! We followed that up with the festival opening night party held in the beautiful Hall of Water in the Atlantis – then we crashed for the night.
Friday was a film marathon day! We headed over to the theater with a bunch of people for the first shorts program at one o’clock, featuring our friend Kathleen’s amusing and quirky short film, Walk The Fish. Hello Lonesome’s screening was next at three and it was a great success! We had a healthy-sized audience (for BIFF standards… the average audience was pretty tiny), and most people stayed and participated in the Q&A with Adam after the film. Then, we scooted over to a local restaurant for some Sky Juice and conch chowder before the next round of short films at seven, featuring Quarters, a film by our friends Drew & Ellie as well as Contact Zone – the shorts category winner created by Gustavius Smith.
Photo 238 out of 365 – “Kathleen”
This is the lovely Kathleen who made the short film Walk The Fish. We hung out with Kathleen throughout the festival. She was also my partner in crime at the black jack table!
We got a kick out of seeing Hello Lonesome in the theater next to Harry Potter – cool right?
On Saturday, we squeezed in an hour of sun at the pool, then we headed back to the theater to see our friend Rass’s film, The Athlete. The Athlete is about the Ethiopian olympic marathon runner Abibe Bakila. Bakila was the first African to win an olympic gold medal when he broke the world record for the fastest marathon time at the Rome olympics in 1960. He also did it in BARE FEET! This story of Bakila was touching, heartbreaking and totally inspirational – it was also gorgeously shot and brilliantly acted. Adam and I both felt it was our favorite film we’ve seen at ANY festival in the last year. Hopefully it will get distribution so the rest of the world can see it – as it is truly a remarkable and special film that deeply got to me.
Photo 239 out of 365 – “Retro Palm”
I took this Saturday morning before heading out to see The Athlete. I was actually practicing shooting in full manual mode (I usually shoot in aperture priority mode) – so I took about ten pictures of this palm tree shifting the exposure each time. I liked the framing of the shot – but it looked too boring with just the green palm and the blue sky – so I played around with the color. I love it like this – I feel like it emanates warmth and it is much more visually interesting than before!
Saturday evening we were invited to a career achievement award presentation honoring Alan Arkin. Abigal Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) was there to present the award and Jeffrey Lyons conducted an on-stage interview with Arkin. It was interesting to learn that after Arkin won an Academy Award for his role in Little Miss Sunshine, he didn’t get another job offer for six months! This business is TOUGH.
After the ceremony, we hit the casino! Kathleen and I stayed at the same table for about three hours (time flies when you’re winning in Blackjack) – then it was time for bed and I left the table up fifty dollars from my original $100 investment. I gotta say… I sort of love gambling! But only when I’m winning.
On Sunday morning we had our second screening of Hello Lonesome with an audience of around ten… I think most of the island was still sleeping unfortunately, but it was a friendly audience and they seemed to really enjoy the film. Then Sunday night was the awards presentation (always an exciting, stressful event). Hello Lonesome was part of the New Visions Narrative Feature Competition. There were five films in our competition – only one of which we had seen (Norman – which played at the Woodstock Film Festival with us), so we had no idea what to expect. Then… to add to the suspense, the juror who was supposed to be there to announce the winner of our competition was MIA… so we had to wait until the end of the presentation to find out that…
WE WON!!! Woo hoo!!! Adam got a bit choked up when accepting his beautiful handmade wooden fish award.
And that’s not the end of the good news… our man Rass won the Spirit of Freedom Narrative competition with The Athlete and also won the narrative audience award! We couldn’t have been happier for him – he put his heart and soul into that film and every person in the audience could feel it. Then our other friend Jessica won the Spirit of Freedom Documentary competition for her film (she was co-producer and assistant editor) – Budrus, which we did NOT get to see, but it is supposed to be amazing and I’m going to try to get my hands on a copy! It was a happy happy night.
Following the awards, the festival closed with a screening of the film The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. The movie was awesome! We all loved it. And the cinematography was really interesting to me. It was quite photographic – each scene was framed very intentionally in a unique style – a style that really appealed to me as a photographer. I found myself paying close attention to each shot – noticing the framing and the depth of field – and thinking about how it was achieved (from what angle, the lighting, the movement, etc.). I feel like I’ll never watch movies in the same way again. But I’m really inspired.
Photo 240 out of 365 – “Junkanoo”
After the closing film, we were escorted out of the theater by a Junkanoo (island street parade) and then we celebrated with our new friends at the closing night party back at the Green Parrot Nassau. It was amazing how much we packed into those five days – and we met some friends who we totally plan on staying connected with in the future. In fact, a bunch of us are getting together this Sunday night in NYC for a little festival reunion! That was the best part of this festival for us… the connections and friendships we made. It was such an intimate and fun setting that it was easy to spend quality time with everyone at the festival – the other filmmakers, the festival director and staff and even the jurors! It was a really awesome experience and we got a lot from it. Thank you Bahamas!!
Which brings us to Monday… a sleepy trip back to NYC on Jet Blue and a freezing cold and gray city to welcome us home. Brrrrrr.
Photo 241 out of 365 – “Cold Gray NYC”
Oh – and finally… our other friend Rebecca is having a free screening of her award-winning documentary called War Don Don at the Tribeca Cinemas this Saturday night in NYC! I did not get to see the film in the Bahamas, and we won’t be able to make it Saturday night – but if you are interested in film, go support her and go see it! It’s free! I can’t wait to see it myself.
One thing I’ve learned through this film festival process, is even if your film is awesome and even if you win multiple awards and play at dozens of festivals, it is REALLY hard to get distribution as an independent filmmaker. Therefore, it is so important to support these films! If you’re interested in film, you should look up the ones I mentioned in this post (I attached links to most of them) and find out how to see them or how to support them!
Ok… longest post ever. I’m spent. ‘Til tomorrow!