Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Interfilm Berlin

I've been showing my films at Berlin's Interfilm Festival for as long as I can remember.  It's a festival that shows ONLY shorts, which are a much bigger deal in Europe (more about that later).  They invited me over this year to show some of my shorts and also do a Master Class.

They booked me on Norwegian Air, a real cut-rate outfit, and sure enough, before take-off at JFK they had problems with the plane's door - so we left NYC an hour late.  And naturally it was then a tight fit to catch my connecting flight to Berlin.  I was racing through the beautiful Oslo Airport only to find long, slow lines for customs and luggage checks.  I just made my flight to Berlin by seconds, but, sure enough, my luggage didn't.

(Which was almost a disaster, since my luggage held my DVDs with the shorts I wanted to show in my Master Class - I called my office manager in a panic from Berlin, but thanks to some German efficiency, the festival had already requested links from my staff, so they already had copies of most of the films I wanted to show.  It turned out my office manager had told me to bring the DVDs only as a back-up - whew!)


I stayed at the wonderful artistic Meyers Hotel, and hoped to get my luggage in time for the evening show, since there was also merchandise in the luggage that I wanted to sell to the crowd.  It was a packed, standing-room only crowd, and the show went very well.  But unfortunately because of Norwegian Air, I couldn't sell my original art from "Revengeance" or sign any "Cop Dog" cards, which was a bummer.  But everyone seemed to have a good time.


The next morning, the wonderful TV channel Arte did a long interview/documentary about me as an American independent filmmaker.  I love Arte!

My suitcase finally got delivered, as I was checking out of my hotel.  Fortunately, the trip home was mishap-free.

But I would like to discuss the whole phenomenon of short film festivals.  In the U.S., shorts-only festivals are few and far between.   The only two of substantial merit that I'm aware of are the Aspen Shorts Fest and the Palm Springs Short Film Festival.  I've been to both festivals and had great times there, but sometimes the cinemas are half-full and have very few business opportunities.

But in Europe, shorts festivals abound and are thriving.  The most obvious example is Clermont-Ferrand.  It takes place in an ugly industrial town in the middle of France, yet the place is packed with fans of short films.  They have, by my count, 5 very large 1000-seat cinemas that can be packed from morning until midnight with people who love short films.  That's crazy!  Plus, they have a film library where one can see every film in the festival and even every film that was entered!

In the past, I would get sales from my short films, even when my film was rejected by the Clermont-Ferrand Festival.  How about that?

Here are some of my other favorite shorts-only film festivals:
Filmets in Barcelona, Spain
Expresion En Corto Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (though I think it has a new name now...)
International Weekend of Animation in Wiesbaden, Germany
Palm Springs Short Film Festival
Aspen Shortsfest
Flickerfest International Short Film Festival in Sydney, Australia
Tampere International Film Festival in Finland
Uppsala International Short Film Festival in Sweden

I'm now working on three big projects, two of which I will reveal in the coming weeks, I'm not allowed to discuss them just yet.  The one I can discuss is the Jackie Greene featurette - I'm almost done with the 6 music videos, and then I'll start on the connecting storyline.  We're planning to enter the (as-yet-unnamed) 30-minute short on the festival circuit - it's looking very exciting and here is some of the artwork from the last few videos:








Next week, I'll have a report on my night with the great Don Hertzfeldt, the rock-star of animation.  He's coming to town soon to show his new short at the IFC.  See you then -

Bill P.

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