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Festival Wrap Up

Another city, another festival. Except…

…this one had deep meaning for us.

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New York City! Where I lived for over 15 years. Where Catia and I met. Where I had my first professional play staged, and where my first feature film (and second) were shot. New York City has long been on our list and we were thrilled to show our movie.

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A happy writer/director and his star/muse on the red carpet (Photo: Don Heller)

Unfortunately the festival couldn’t screen the best version; they waited too long to test the movie and by the time they did (an hour before our screening) they couldn’t get it to work. (I asked them for a test a week earlier but, oh well…) We had to screen the only back-up I could get, which was a BluRay with Spanish subtitles (from our Marbella adventure). The color and framing were off. But it was still our movie, on the big screen in Union Square.

And it was a packed house. Friends from all walks of life made it, and many joined us for a rooftop party at Bar 13 around the corner. Like a high school reunion, college reunion, family reunion and wedding all rolled into one.

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Skidmore College represent!

And we took home another award! The Audience Choice Award for Best Dramatic Feature. After three glorious days and nights we headed back to Los Angeles.

This was a perfect end to our festival run.

Festivals

Mementos from our fantastic world tour.

Wait, what?

Yep. We’ve been on the circuit for over a year. It’s time to hang up our shoes before becoming the old horse in the race.

Mind you, we’re not opposed to more festival screenings. We are just no longer submitting (a.k.a, paying) for festival submissions. If someone wants to screen our movie, we will happily oblige.

And what a great run it has been. Six festivals, and seven awards:

Best Feature – Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival
Best Feature – The Valley Film Festival
Audience Choice Award – Austin Indie Fest
Best Screenplay – Austin Indie Fest
Best Actress (Catia Ojeda) – Marbella International Film Festival
Best Actress (Catia Ojeda) – Austin Indie Fest

We are thrilled and honored for all the recognition we have received so far, and in return, I’d like to give out some awards to the festivals we have attended. Some did things a little better than others, and they deserve a shout out.

So, without further ado, here are the awards Closure would like to give to film festivals!

Best Filmmaker Relations – D.C. Independent Film Festival
Our first film festival set the bar very high for how filmmakers were treated. Different staff members in each department timely answered each email, whether it was about PR, our screening, or random festival questions. When our Saturday night screening started to fill up weeks in advance they brought in catering and a musician to entertain in the hour prior. The events were all well organized, thought out, and on time. Each talk back session was moderated by a staff member who had watched the movie and asked knowledgable, thought-provoking questions. And after our screening the projectionist personally delivered the DCP of our movie safely back in our hands (although I certainly would have trusted them to hold it). I assumed this was the standard filmmaker/festival relationship. I was wrong. (Runner up: The Valley Film Festival).

Best Built In Audience – Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival
We had screenings at other festivals with larger audiences than our two screenings in Vero Beach, but those were in cities were we brought in a huge crowd. in addition to the (ahem) plentiful wine and beautiful beach, the festival brought in audiences hungry for movies.

Best Award Trophy – Marbella International Film Festival
Don’t get me wrong, we are grateful for ALL of our festival awards, but this fancy glass award that Catia Ojeda won for Best Actress is truly mantel-worthy. (Special merit goes to D.C.I.F.F. which did not actually have a trophy for Best Feature but we happily accepted a $1,000 cash prize instead).

Best Indie Spirit – Austin Indie Fest
I mean, BESIDES the fact they have “Indie” in their name this young festival is doing everything right: hosting the entire festival in a hotel so filmmakers can bounce from screenings to the bar to the room without missing a beat, a diverse group of filmmakers who are truly happy to be there and making movies, and since the fest falls on Veterans Day weekend, a special program of films made by Vets. Plus a bunch of prizes for the winners. Hard to believe this festival is only two years old! (Runner Up: The Valley Film Festival)

Best Location – Manhattan Film Festival
New York City is the greatest city in the world, and the festival theater was right in the heart of it, in Union Square. (Runner Up: Marbella Film Festival takes place in a beachside resort town in the south of Spain. Very hard to top that.)

Best Overall Quality of Screened Movies – The Valley Film Festival
It is standard for the quality, budget, and storytelling to vary WILDLY at film festivals. Each festival has their own method of determining how movies are accepted. We saw some wonderful, entertaining and thought-provoking movies. And we saw some “how the hell did this get selected” movies. But at VFF, the overall quality was high. (Full disclosure: I did not attend Vero Beach WFF and I only saw a series of shorts at Manhattan Film Festival so I can’t weigh in on their selections).

Best Parties – Marbella International Film Festival

Gala

As fantastic as it was, Marbella’s closing night gala with it’s live entertainment and five course meal wasn’t even the best party of the week.

Each night, another party… and sometimes multiple parties in one night. Whether it was poolside at a fancy casino hotel or in a beachside bar with a known classic rock band on the bill, there was usually free booze, live entertainment, random VIPs (at one party I had a conversation over excellent cava with the Ambassador to Spain from Cyprus!) and lots of merrymaking and networking for all the filmmakers and a ton of locals.

After taking the above picture of our awards and festival badges it’s bittersweet to walk away from it all. Those of us who create art having a burning desire to tell stories, even if it takes all our time, energy and money to do so. We all want our work to be appreciated and to entertain people, and to see it happen in theaters large and small all across the country (and Spain!) has truly been a magnificent experience. And I can’t wait to do it again with another movie.

But first… time to take Closure to a larger audience… including YOU!

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