And now a word from (a member of) your screening committee

July 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

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You know that visceral frisson you get when settling in among a crowd of other movie lovers and losing yourself in a really good film? For those of us on the Landlocked Film Festival screening committee, the group that chooses the films that go into the festival, such a moment is what it’s all about. See, we love films. We’re willing to sit through lots, all kinds and all levels of quality, and we do, for months leading up to the festival itself. We’re in it for those moments… moments like when the arc of a story swings so cleanly, so parabolically, across the screen, leading our story-telling-loving hearts to the inevitable, cathartic conclusion. Moments of quirky humor, like the Marx Brothers did so effortlessly, when pomposity and social arrogance are skewered, and the little guy wins the day. An image so beautiful, so spare, snow falling on pines against a slate sky, say, that it gets emblazoned on your mind’s eye. A camera angle that reveals not only a new way of seeing the world, but something about the character on screen’s way of viewing it. A crackle of dialogue. The right rhythmic riff of music. Acting that makes your heart go zing. 

Such moments are not inevitable in the independent film world; we do weed out quite a few films that we feel would not please our festival audience, using a rating system as we narrow things down to cull the wheat from the chaff. Green, designating one of those films that delights and excites in its shimmering totality. Yellow – has some merit, works on some levels, yes, but not quite all. Red – you can imagine. And as your faithful screening committee servants, we watch lots and lots of films. We’re looking for films with a cohesive vision, for technical excellence, for good acting. Something a little different. One of this year’s entries, “My Sister’s Quinceanera,” for example, is a quiet gem, working on all those levels. And the fact that it’s a local film (made in Muscatine) only adds one more layer of appeal. Sometimes we go head to head with our fellow reviewers, some of us loving a film, others hating it, articulating our delight or disgust, and hammering out compromises. There are many films we do agree on, but subject matter is often a matter of individual taste. Myself, I have a quirky sense of humor and often find myself championing a film that’s not getting a lot of love – like last year’s comedy short “Pow Pow Pow,” for example – simply because it has a consistently charming or warped vision, a tone that made me guffaw. 

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In the end, we bring together consistently entertaining, well-made films into an exciting weekend long package of independent cinema. This year’s festival, I believe, is no exception.

– Andy Douglas

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