This past week was the 9th Annual Indianapolis International Film Festival, which seeks to create a shared experience around film. I was among a handful of people asked by the board to screen films before the festival kicked off. Our reviews were posted on their blog to help promote the event. In return for blogging, we were given all access passes, which I used and abused to see 26 films (15 programs if you group the shorts) in addition to the ones I screened in advance.
My favorite documentaries were “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines” and “Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters.” As a feminist, “Wonder Women!” was right up my alley. Most interesting to me was learning about the transformation of Wonder Woman over the years as it correlated to what was going on in the world at the time. “Ecstasy” was a well-produced and extremely captivating look at the lives of people who are crazy good at Tetris. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it but it was entertaining and surprisingly emotional. I was totally clapping at the end when one of the masters reaches a level of the game never seen before.
It’s hard to pick a favorite feature film. The opening and closing night movies were both great: “The Oranges” and “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” respectively. “Searching for Sonny” and “Gayby” were laugh out loud hysterical. And as I noted in my review, I really enjoyed “Billi & Theodore,” which was filmed here in the state and features several cast and crew members who are from Indiana.
Hands down the best of the fest shorts for me was one I reviewed called “Cadaver.” Of the ones I saw during the festival, “Fresh Skweezed” and “Stan Versus Squirrel” were both fantastic. Outside of that, I wasn’t very impressed with the shorts. To be fair, I only went to two sets of shorts and screened one, so there were several others I just didn’t have time to see.
Besides the films themselves, one highlight of the week was meeting Ronald Short, the director of “Billi & Theodore.” We got to talk in detail about things like how he cultivated such a realistic friendship between the actors and what went into finding the music featured in the movie. Several of the films had Q&A sessions after with the filmmakers, which was really cool.
And of course it wouldn’t be a festival without after parties and the chance to interact with the staff, volunteers and fellow moviegoers. What’s great about going to an event like this is that you already have one thing in coming with everyone you meet: you love movies and appreciate the arts. The festival staff in particular is amazing and so passionate about what they do. They all have full-time jobs and coordinate the festival in their spare time. So impressed!
This was my first year at the festival but it definitely won’t be my last. If you missed it, save the date for next year: July 18-28, 2013. In the meantime, you can follow Indy Film Fest on Twitter or like them on Facebook to stay up to date on other events they do throughout the year.
Did you attend this year’s festival? What was your favorite film? Share your highlights!