Sadly, I am biased in this. Naturally I am going to say this festival is exceptional; this festival is unique and that this festival is a great platform. Of course I would say that, I work with the festival. However, I can offer you something else that might convince you; my experience as a submitting filmmaker, which, frankly, was exceptional.
Last Summer I finished a short documentary I had been working on for a number of months and began thinking, (panicking really), as to what to do with the damn thing. Does anyone want to watch it? Where will they watch it? Will I just fling it up on line? These days, I find it all too easy to take the latter option. A delusional part of me thinks, and always will that someday a short of mine will smite down the endless cat videos, twerking ball Miley riffs, and music covers. However it never happens. And likely won’t. Now, that’s not pessimism but realism towards the changes the internet has brought. These days, YouTube, Vimeo et al are essentially modern day on demand TV stations, where the left hand column (for the most part) decides what plays next.
So at the end of making my short film, I decided to curb my YouTube habit, mainly because I felt the film deserved better treatment than waging viral warfare. I turned my attention to film festivals and came across the very one you are now considering.
You have probably noticed with some excitement, and in my own experience with some trepidation, that there are a LOT of festivals. It seems to me that almost every city, and self-respecting town has one. So which do you chose? Well, maybe my reasoning for choosing this festival will help you. I chose DISFMF because of its respect towards the short form.
Not often is it treated with respect by filmmakers; myself a case in point. Rather than respect my work by placing it into competitive and showcasing festivals, I fire it up on line, and forget about it after two or three weeks. There it is also generally forgotten. DISFMF however accepted my short documentary, and with thoughtful respect they placed it with 6 other excellent short films in a collection for screening.
At the screening, I must say I was floored by the quality of film I was placed with, both in production quality and sheer creativity. The experience of seeing my film, considered on par with work such as that was more empowering that all the YouTube and Vimeo hits I have ever had. It made me, for the first time ever, feel truly respected and considered a filmmaker.
Further to that, the direct international focus of the festival is something to note. In my collection, there were films from Mexico to Turkey, to Finland and back. It was such a curious experience to see work from places I have never really considered film making hubs. And all in relation to my own work. It make me think for the first time who in fact as a film maker are my audience? As I would never have thought to watch films from such places. It made me think about who I should be making films for? Me or the spectator? The answer to this I found in the festival itself.
DISFMF asked any film maker in attendance, and wished to do so, to do a pubic interview with the audience. I, of course accepted. It was an intense educational experience. For the first time, I had to engage with the reception of my work by a group of strangers. It was frightening but exhilarating, seeing the understanding and questioning of the issues my documentary was trying to tackle. After the public interview and conversations after, I felt that some of the audience had taken something with them; something from my film. From that experience at DISIMF I learnt that as a film maker I should make films for the audience. I learnt as a film maker I want to educate and entertain them because it is an oddly satisfying experience.
DISFMF for me was an excellent experience. My film was shown respect, carefully considered amongst its peers, and I learned something about being a filmmaker, something I couldn’t have learned behind the camera or from online distribution. It was only something I could learn from a festival, and I think, not to be over sentimental, only from this one. Because, they respect short film.
So why submit? Because who knows what the experience might bring you.
The Dublin International Short Film Festival runs this year from October 3rd to 5th. Submission is €15 via www.reelport.com or www.festhome.com. For more information check out the website!
Lorna Buttimer. Follow me on twitter @buttimer_lorna