Tuesday, March 12, 2013

QWFF 2013 wrap-up: Always bring two copies

I almost didn't go to the QWFF awards show and after-party Saturday night. I had just finished dinner, alone, and while I wasn't ready to go home, I didn't anticipate doing a lot of mingling with a bunch of strangers. Still, I had nothing better to do, so I headed down to the outskirts of Long Island City and encountered the same problem I had Thursday night in trying to find the Secret Theatre: a procession of avenues and roads and lanes and drives that made the walk longer than it should have been. (I'm not sure, but I think Queens is unique within the five boroughs for this silly street-naming system.)

Once again, I needn't have worried. Planet Utero and Baby I Love You animator Faiyaz Jafri, whom I met Thursday and saw here and there throughout the fest, was at the party, and he must have liked my write-up of his films, because suddenly he was introducing me to other filmmakers and telling them about me. Which I appreciate! but didn't expect. He'd go on to win a QWFF award that night for his animation, so I obviously lucked out in getting to meet him. 

In addition, I got to talk to a few more directors and producers, some of the QWFF staff, and even a film projectionist, with whom I had a long conversation about 35mm versus digital. Jules was there too, and we talked some more about her film, 528 New York, and movies in general.

The QWFF award winners were named (Sunday was for a replay of all the winners), but the highlight of the ceremony to me was when Katha Cato made a truly inspiring speech about the need for filmmakers to continue telling their stories, even in the face of opposition. She talked about an Iranian director from last year's fest and the hell he went through with his government just to get his film to the fest. She also talked about a film from this year (Motorbike Midwife, the Short Doc winner), whose graphic scenes of childbirth caused several people to leave in disgust. This prompted a reproachful message from director Masumi Higachi which Katha read. Don Cato urged the filmmakers present to continue making "uncomfortable" movies that inspire outrage and debate.

I had mentioned the viewing problems some of the films at the Thursday night block had. There were similar, though much less serious, probIems in a couple of other films I saw, and in talking with Katha about it, she made it unequivocally clear that the Blu-Ray/DVD players get thoroughly checked prior to the fest. They go through a lot of constant use during the fest, however, which is why she always tells any and all filmmakers to bring at least two copies of their films, in case one is faulty, which was usually the case whenever there were viewing problems.

I liked this year's QWFF better than last year's. It's easy to forget that this fest is only in its third year, because the quality of the films combined with the local support makes it feel like it's always been around.

Day 1: The old neighborhood
Day 2: The Jackson Five
Day 3: Snow business
Day 4: The women
Day 5: Local heroes

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