Capital City Film Festival

Saturday was the final festival screening of our feature About a Donkey. It was our 10th festival (though 15th public screening) and thankfully a solid way to end our run! I honestly hadn’t heard of CCFF before 2018. I came across them on Moviemaker’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals list, then saw their reviews on FilmFreeway were good, and then their photos looked … well, cool! That and a low submission fee made it worth giving a shot; and I’m so glad I did. The festival itself is fairly small (they expanded this year from just 4 days to 11 days), and seems to have no major funding, so they aren’t able to offer the perks I’ve experienced at other festivals (like filmmaker swag and free accommodations), but they stand out in other ways. For one thing, the programming director and staff are some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. They were truly excited to meet Kelsey & me and had such wonderful things to say about our film. Multiple staff members throughout the weekend kept emphasizing how much they loved our movie and the charming world we created with characters they wanted more of. One programmer said that films can sometimes end on such a depressing note, which can be a lot in our current political climate; so it was such a pleasure to watch our film that left him feeling so good. The needed optimism of our story was a frequent comment throughout the weekend, and it was really lovely to hear. The other thing that made the festival standout is how incredibly inclusive it is. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a festival that wasn’t a specifically LGBTQ and/or women-focused festival that was so intentionally inclusive in its programming. I also love that it’s not something they necessarily market or make noise about, they just commit to it in all that they program. Some of my favorite examples of this beyond the films, they had local musicians perform after hours that were overtly intersectionally feminist and they had an interactive, experimental exhibit that was inspired by Black feminist critical theory, as well as a panel devoted to discussing trauma and sexual assault specifically through the lens and voices of women of color.

As for our our actual time there, we unfortunately were only able to be there for a few days and didn’t get to see as much as we would’ve liked; but we enjoyed what we did get to experience. Lansing isn’t the hippest of communities on first glance. Despite having the MSU campus there, it feels a lot like the farm town it apparently is. But there’s a ton of diversity within the community, and a real appreciation for the arts, as witnessed by the turnouts and conversations had at the festival.

Our screening was on Saturday at 5pm in a hot tub warehouse that had been converted into a cool art exhibit and screening space. The sound and picture were solid, and all seats were nearly full with 45 locals in attendance. The film got a lot of laughs and sweet comments afterwards. One woman told us how much she loved the multi-generational approach and only wished that Annie, the pregnant sister, had delivered by the end so that there could’ve been 4 generations of women onscreen at once. And another woman raved about how much the film touched her and that she appreciated our portrayal of how animals can change lives; she told us about how rescuing her dog saved her life after her husband’s death. Overall, it was a sweet way to end our festival run. We’re now excited to start reaching viewers online!

-Christina

Local Vegan Treat:

  • For Crepe’s Sake has vegan batter as an option! Their sweet sauces (chocolate, caramel, cinnamon butter) aren’t vegan, but maple syrup with strawberries & bananas was a go-to for me.

Catch the film next at:

  • I’ll be putting out a blog post about this further, but we’ll be on Vimeo on Demand and VHX on May 7th, with later releases on Amazon Prime and Seed&Spark. Our Vimeo on Demand is already available for pre-order, and we’d love it if you helped spread the word about that as we get closer to officially being available to public!

Thanks for following the run of this film! I hope my recaps have been interesting & informative. And thanks for making it all possible if you were a Seed&Spark supporter who started it all!

Queens World Film Festival Recap

Queens World Film Festival is my favorite festival. Not just because it happens in my community of Queens. But also because, now in its 9th year, I can honestly say it’s one of the most well-run, supportive and lovingly programmed festivals out there. I travel the country attending festivals regularly, for my own work and my job with Seed&Spark, and Queens World is truly top notch. Katha and Don (the lovely festival directors) curate content that reflects the diverse voices and stories in Queens (and thus from around the world), and they make it a point to get the local community involved through a variety of events surrounding the screenings. They have so much heart and integrity; it's clear that they care about every film and filmmaker that's part of the festival. Don shows such thoughtful nuance in his programming and Katha makes every filmmaker feel seen and appreciated. Their welcoming and encouraging energy is contagious. Being part of the festival really feels like being part of a movement, not just showing up for a screening.

I’ve written many recaps about QWFF because this was my 5th year with a film at the festival (though my first with a feature). I'll keep this one short because I’ve already said so much and because it’s a little different from my usual festival experiences where I show up in a city for that specific event and spend all my time engaging with the festival. QWFF is 11 days long, and this year screened over 200 films. I don’t get to experience it as much as I’d like every year because my daily life is still going on around me. That said, I always attend opening & closing night. And this year I was able to spend 4 of the 11 days at the festival, getting to meet new filmmakers and see & support a few local friends with their films also in the festival. I can confidently say that the lineups are consistently compelling and well-organized. The Q&A hosts did a great job this year in particular of having specific questions for each film, as well as encouraging questions from the audience. And many screenings were packed. It’s really one of the only NYC festivals (other than the top tier ones like Tribeca and NYFF) that get actual audience attendance of not just the screening filmmakers.

As for our About a Donkey screening, we had a solid slot at 5:30pm on a Sunday. Our theater sat 68 people and it was completely sold out. Mostly friends, family and early supporters of the film were there, but also some other filmmakers of the festival and a couple strangers from the local community filled the room. The film looked and sounded spectacular, truly it was maybe out best screening in terms of quality; and it got a lot of laughs and wonderful reactions. Many comments after complimented the ensemble and the hopeful message of the film. One woman in particular thanked us for the non-stereotypical portrayal of struggling with depression, and another highlighted how wonderful it was to see women of different generations onscreen with fully-realized personalities and story-arcs (because it’s still such a rarity in mainstream movies, unfortunately). We also got a great review out of the screening on Unseen Films.

Our Q&A was fun, with a lot of great questions. Watch it below.

And to my surprise and great honor, the festival awarded me the Lois Weber Pioneer Award for leadership . I was genuinely not expecting it and got a little emotional as I gave a probably awkward speech. (See below)

Thanks again to Katha, Don, and the entire Queens World team! I hope to be back again next year with a new project. <3

-Christina

P.S. If you don’t know who Lois Weber is, fix that here. Also, if anyone has video of Katha’s introduction for the award, I’d love to see it. Her words were really lovely and I feel like I didn’t fully process the end of what she said after my name came onscreen.

Catch the film next at:

A lovely, personal piece of press

"The team at CongestedCat Productions just seem like really amazing people who want to make art that helps people and heals people and helps bring us all together for a better future, a better planet." We reached out to Ali Naro of Movies OVER The Rainbow about writing a review of About a Donkey. She ended up watching it and enjoying it enough to say she wanted to write a post about our production company as a whole. She just sent us her incredibly moving post with this message, "I sweated for 3 days trying to figure out what your films did to my brain while I struggled to write, but I ended up discovering that you did good things. The blog ended up being more a piece about how your films have helped to heal my past than about your actual films themselves. Hope you don't mind. I just wrote where the muse of your work was taking me and it was taking me on a journey to just heal." We definitely don't mind, and we’re incredibly touched by her words. Give her post a read HERE.