Last weekend was the Blackbird Film Festival, where "Enough" screened and was nominated for the Foreboding Film Award. I had never been part of this fest before but decided to submit because I had heard good things from filmmaker friends last year. It was about a 3.5 hour drive from the city, which presented an opportunity to spend some time with my mom (since she drives and I just like taking her to fests with me)!
The festival was really enjoyable. I love that tickets were free (a perk of being sponsored by a university) and in a beautiful venue with super-prepared interns from the college who were genuinely helpful and enthusiastic about the films & filmmakers. It's rare that I feel a festivals programming is completely solid, both in terms of production quality and story -- but I felt that here. I saw 65 out of 117 screened shorts. I did think some of the blocks (and films within those blocks) were too long, a couple hitting 2.5 hours; but overall the films were well selected and curated into thoughtful blocks with insightful Q&A's. And another benefit of being sponsored by and held at a university is that screenings were never really empty. Students and families of students came out, even if they didn't know anyone with a film in the festival. Opening night had about 80 people in attendance, and I think 45 was the average throughout most other blocks. Mine was the R-rated Foreboding block at 9pm Saturday night (really started at 9:30). The blocks began at 9am Saturday, so it was a long day for anyone who stuck around. Thankfully, many did. I did a headcount and we had just under 50 people in attendance. By the time the block ended, it was 11:30pm and people were clearly tired. So we, unfortunately, didn't get the nuanced and personalized Q&A I had seen other filmmakers get throughout the day, which was my only real disappointment of the festival. But we did get a moment on stage to each speak once about what inspired our film. And I found the audience, the next day, had some lovely things to say about how it resonated and what they thought of the ending (I won't spoil anything here). During the screening, I heard a gasp at the end and "woo" during the credits (I don't believe from someone I know). And a couple people told me "Enough" was their favorite from the block of 10, which was really nice and surprising to hear because all the films were intriguing and well done.
We stuck around for 2 more blocks Sunday morning before hitting the road in the afternoon. I couldn't stay for the awards ceremony but glad I got to stay for the bulk of the fest. I didn't end up winning anyway, but it would've been nice to meet more of the filmmakers and congratulate the winners. (I was actually rooting for another that I was disappointed didn't take home our category. It's titled "Childer;" definitely check it out at a horror fest near you, if you can!)
Other than the films themselves, it was also just a nice time in Cortland meeting and chatting with people. I not only got to spend time with my mom but also got to see a couple IndieWorks alumni who also made the trip from the City, including friend and frequent collaborator Jeanette Sears ("Night In" DP), whose sweet film "Happenstance" played. And I even got to have lunch with my cousin Shivanna, who goes to Ithaca just 20 minutes from Courtland. All in all, I had a great weekend and will definitely be submitting new work for next year. It's rare for me to find a festival in or near NY that I feel has integrity, is well run, and doesn't just program anything & everything to get butts in seats. Other than Queens World, this may be my other local(ish) go-to each year.