Greenwich International Film Festival | #MakeAnImpact
Greenwich International Film Festival | May 31, 2018 – June 3, 2018 | Save The Date and Make An Impact
The fourth annual Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF), which will officially kick off on May 31, 2018, had its amazing Program Announcement Party on May 1st at the elegant upscale fashion showroom Richards who sponsored the event.
The female-founded GIFF is a non-profit organization that features more than 70 events each year including film premieres, advance screenings, panel discussions, networking events, and star-studded parties. This film festival attracts an audience of approximately 10,000 celebrities, filmmakers, journalists, financial executives, movie lovers and attendants from all over the world.
GIFF has a social impact focus and showcases films that raise awareness of important issues facing the world today.
The mission of the Greenwich International Film Festival is to provide filmmakers with an effective platform to showcase their work with the goal of finding financing opportunities for future projects. The GIFF believes the power of film can serve the greater good by highlighting important causes that relate to human rights, education, the environment, and healthcare. In line with its mission, the GIFF uses the hashtag #MakeAnImpact
With that in mind, Colleen deVeer, Director of Programming and one of GIFF’s Founders and Programmer Sam Kleiner traveled to Sundance and the SXSW film festivals to select the films for screening at the 2018 Greenwich Film Festival, which runs from May 31 to June 3, 2018, in the affluent suburb Greenwich, CT.
In the spirit of the current climate in the entertainment industry, half of the films selected for screening are films directed or written by women, which is being further emphasized with a sure-to-be an inspiring panel discussion event Women at the Helm: A Conversation About Female Directors taking place June 2 at the Cole Auditorium at Greenwich Library.
14 countries are represented in GIFF’s 2018 lineup including Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Hungary, Netherlands, and the U.K.
The opening night film is the U.S. documentary “The Price of Everything”, directed by Nathaniel Kahn. The film explores the labyrinth of the contemporary art world, examining the role of art and artistic passion in today’s money-driven, consumer-based society where everything can be bought and sold.
GIFF Changemaker Awards
Each year, GIFF awards the artists who have used their voice for positive social change. The 2018 GIFF Changemaker Awards will be presented to Ashley Judd and Duncan Edwards.
Actress & Author Ashley Judd will receive the “Changemaker Award” for her work as the Global Goodwill Ambassador with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). As a feminist and social justice humanitarian, Ashley had been working internationally with NGO’s, grassroots organizations, governments, and supranational bodies since 2004. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of The Year’ for her activism and leadership in the feminist movement.
Duncan Edwards has been a leader in the educational community and is the current Executive Director of Waterside School. Waterside, conceived as a model for future efforts, is an independent school in Stamford, CT, serving children and families regardless of limitations in income or circumstances. The School empowers its students with the knowledge, skills, and virtues required to enable them to excel as students.
Tickets for GIFF selected films, panel discussions, and the star-studded parties can be purchased via the GIFF website: GreenwichFilm.org
The following interview with GIFF’s Director of Programming and its Programmer will give you an insight of what the selection process is like and what drives the final decision of a film being selected for screening at this inspiring and expertly run film festival.
Interview Colleen deVeer, Director of Programming
- The GIFF is a female-founded film festival and you are one of the Founders. Why did you decide to start a film festival in Greenwich and what was the process like?
I moved to Greenwich in 2012 with my husband and two children and was interested in starting a regional theater out here. I was an actor in NYC for many years and had a love for the arts my entire life. Over a dinner with friends one evening, a conversation came up about how this would be an ideal town to host a film festival. Bow Tie Cinemas is directly under the train station in Greenwich, making it an easy commute for people from the city and neighboring communities. When the Festival came to fruition that the first year, we had 10,000 guests come in for it and many of them never had to get into a car. Our venues flanked Greenwich Avenue and our patrons enjoyed fantastic entertainment, food, events, and fun without any of the frustrations of getting around that our team had experienced at other Festivals- everything was within a one-mile radius. There was something very magical about how vibrant that first Festival was and it continues to grow and improve each year. It is particularly fun to work with a team of Directors who are all mothers because we have the flexibility to be at our children’s school events and sports games. Most importantly, we all share the belief that our families come first. If we have to jump out of a meeting and run to lunch duty, we do it and everyone in the room supports that. Additionally, something that was very important to us from the get-go was that we try to make an impact with this Festival and share the stories of filmmakers that open the eyes of our audience to issues that we all face on a global level. Whether they be films about racial injustice, cyberbullying, poverty, environmental issues, or gun control, we have a captive audience here in Greenwich and surrounding communities that get inspired by them. These are people in our audience who have the resources and connections to make things happen, spread the word about charitable organizations and effect change. Each year we host a Changemaker Gala that honors artists for their philanthropic and artistic endeavors. We also honor a local Changemaker who is using his or her platform to improve the lives of others in our community. These individuals are making the world a better place. All in all, this is a “feel good” Festival that gives back both financially-to charitable organizations and to filmmakers and gives attention to innovative artists with powerful stories to share.
- Could you briefly explain GIFF’s film selection process, please? With all the important films being submitted, what ultimately determines which of the films will be selected for screening?
Sam Kleiner, Senior Programmer, and I had 20 pre-screeners and 4 interns looking at all the films from Filmfreeway (our online submission site of choice). Each film is viewed by at least 2 people on this committee and is rated and reviewed. Because film is so subjective, we make sure that there are checks and balances in place. While one pre-screener or intern may love a film, another may not. Sam and I always have at least one of our sets of eyes on every film and some of these films are viewed by other members of our team for their opinions when we are narrowing down our program. The final decision is always made by me and Sam. We both watch hundreds of these films and view dozens of more films that we solicit from the film festival circuit. It’s is a really tough process narrowing them down. We had to say no to some that were incredibly strong because they were for example similar in theme to another one. In order to achieve a very delicate balance of films in the lineup, careful consideration must be made to having a very diverse program of films with a broad range of subject matters, of different genres, and that represent the perspectives of people with different political affiliations and opinions about the world.
- What decides which film will be the opening night film?
That’s a toughy! Sam and I usually narrow the list down to our favorite films and we spend a lot of time talking about which film not only fits with our mission best but which one will appeal to the most people in our audience that evening. Our audience loves a great Q & A following the film, so when we can get the subjects there (if it is a Doc), along with filmmakers and actors (if it is a narrative) and we can have an exciting discussion about the film that’s a home run. It’s very important to us to select a film that is excited to play with us and bring their team in.
- What kind of awards does GIFF present to filmmakers?
We present financial prizes that range from $1,000 to $10,000.
- The Hedonist Magazine’s mantra is an inspirational quote by Abraham Hicks. “You can be, do and have anything you want.” What’s your take on such a statement, Colleen?
This whole experience has been such an education for me and for this team. As someone who was a performer for so long, having the ability to raise my children while providing opportunities for other artists at this stage in my life, is very fulfilling to me. This was quite a project to take on- there were naysayers and there were champions of it. It takes a lot of imagination, resources, support, energy, and courage to build a company. I’m proud of us for doing it and I’m a lucky gal to have such a great group to work with. We may be a small one, but we’ve made it work and it has been a lot of fun!
Interview Sam Kleiner, Programmer
- Sam, as GIFF’s Programmer you play a big part in the selection process. Can you please describe a typical day for you as a programmer?
My day-to-day changes quite drastically from the beginning of the year leading up to our Festival weekend. During our Call for Entry, I watch over two-hundred films in three months, once that ends I start designing all the panels and discussions. Our programming team then goes to Sundance and SXSW to shop for films that might be a good fit for our own Festival. Lastly, we schedule out each film that we have selected, and invite the filmmakers and their teams to attend our event.
- How did you become a programmer for the GIFF and what is your favorite part of that function?
I made my first short film in the seventh grade and have been passionate about filmmaking ever since. After I graduated from College, I moved to New York City and worked in film publicity where I had the opportunity to work with some of the top distribution companies in New York including Magnolia Pictures, Cinetic Media, and A24. While working with these companies I fell in love with Film Festivals and decided to pursue programming. I love festivals because they highlight certain films that might normally not be seen and provide a unique platform for filmmakers to find their audience. I love GIFF especially because of its social impact focus, we program films that inspire people and we expose our audience to issues that different cultures are experiencing around the world.
- Regarding GIFF’s selections, other than the social impact a film may have, what other criteria do you look for in making your decision?
Besides films with a Social Impact Focus, we try to highlight diverse stories with diverse casts —we celebrate female directors, directors of color, foreign directors, and any voices that have been marginalized in the film community. We also look for films that break the rules and challenge perspectives or share a story that we have never heard before. A film with a clear vision and a unique story also has a great chance of being selected. Another factor that increases the chance of a filmmaker’s project being chosen, as if they guarantee world premiere status to our Festival. Any Festival, GIFF included, loves to show the first look at a film before it has been seen by the public. We program a lot of films that have been on the Festival circuit and have played at Sundance or SXSW, but it is really special to GIFF to share the world premiere of a film with our audience. We are a community-based Festival in Greenwich, and also love to showcase and highlight local talent. We keep a special eye out for filmmakers who are Connecticut locals, and films that were shot in the state because we find it very important to support and celebrate our local film community.
- Being aware that only a certain number of films can be screened during the 3-day festival, how do you feel when you have to decide that some films that would be an amazing contribution to the festival, have to be left out?
That is definitely the toughest part of my job. It is extremely hard to watch over three hundred films and narrow it down to fifty to be played over our Festival weekend. I am constantly having to choose and cut films that I would love to have in the program, but given that our Festival is only over a weekend, I have to make certain selections that ensure the strongest most well rounded final slate of films to share with our community.
Photography Courtesy Colleen deVeer and Sam Kleiner