What’s better than receiving a tell-all interview with the organizers of the Denver Jewish Film Festival?
We sat down to discuss all the details regarding the 2018 DJFF with the MACC Artistic Director, Steve Wilson, and the Director of Festivals, Amy Weiner.
How long does it take to plan the Denver Jewish Film Festival?
Amy: We’ve had pre-screeners vetting content for the 2018 DJFF festival since the 2017 festival, so by December 2016, once the 2017 festival had already been programmed, I had already begun to receive submissions from my distributor contacts and in January of 2017, I had already begun to compile the data to send to pre-screeners.
Steve: Right, I think it’s maybe longer than 12 months. The distribution of a film is a living thing. Amy might get information about a film in many ways, so then we would see the film and then we might not know when it’s going to release. It might release after our film festival, so we would have to shelf it for next year, or it could have a full wider distribution before our festival, in which case it wouldn’t be as attractive to our audience. It’s way more complicated than, “we watch the film, we like the film, we program the film.”
A: The distributor might say no.
S: Right, or the rights could be sold to another distributor and then the deal could change, or the distribution date could change. So, long story short, it takes about 12 months plus to program and plan the festival.
How many films are shown to the pre-screeners?
A: Almost every film gets viewed by a pre-screener at one point or another. We have two different types of films–feature films and short films. Our older adult pre-screeners screened the feature films and we had our younger adult pre-screeners view the short films so that we could try to have programs that span demographics based off their feedback. We had about 150 short film screeners and a little under that for feature film screeners. We had around 300 films total, and about 275 films shown to pre-screeners. That equates to 775 pre-screen reviews in total. We ended up putting 75 films in front of the Film Selection Committee, including shorts [films], so we narrowed it down, using our pre-screeners, from 275 films to just 75.
If someone reading this wants to be a pre-screener for next year, how might they do that?
A: They can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is unique about this year’s festival?
A: We have 16 Rocky Mountain Region premiers, and we also have 38 films and 31 screenings and I think that’s the most we’ve ever screened. Also, we’re screening a film at the Alamo [Drafthouse Cinema].
S: We’re also trying to continue the festival throughout the calendar year. We’re showing a film in the Spring.
A: Yes, on April 14, 2018, which is a Saturday, we are screening an Israeli film to commemorate the Israeli holidays in mid-April so look out for that.
What is your favorite film in this year’s lineup?
A: Definitely the short film program, Consequences. It’s basically about characters who are confronted with something that makes them go outside their comfort zone to deal with it. It’s really light-hearted and fun and I’m really happy that I was able to utilize these young adult pre-screeners to curate a program that I think all demographics will love.
S: My favorite documentary is the Sammy Davis Jr. doc. My generation was a little late, I’m a “very end of Boomer,” so I wasn’t really consuming media during the “Brat Pack,” but as an “art guy” you have to appreciate his colossal talent and when you add in the Jewish piece–he’s a very interesting person. My favorite feature film is, I think, 1945.
S: Yeah, I think so. I didn’t love it at first, but it has really worked on me. It’s a very beautiful film.
A: Oh, I really like Paradise too. That might be another favorite. It’s an absolute stunner.