Although the ninth annual Albany FilmFest has expanded considerably from its origins in 2011 as a single all-day cinematic feast at the Albany Community Center, intimacy remains supreme.
Spanning more than a week, submitted and curated films March 16-24 will include special feature films and events, a Kids’ Matinee, Sunday All-Day Shorts, Albany Filmmakers Showcase and more. Screenings located at Landmark’s Albany Twin Theatre will highlight craft and process as well as product, with post-show Q&A’s featuring filmmakers, artists and people involved with themed programs.
“Every year, although we don’t set a theme, it has one,” says Festival Director Naomi Sigal. “This year it was diversity, with many women-directed films. Done on a human level, they’re hopeful, more thoughtful and about communication and connection between people.”
Movies about families, making a living or experiencing different countries and cultures ground the festival in less Hollywood, action-driven scenarios. The films are instead interaction-driven, which Sigal says suits the festival’s mission and purpose just fine.
“Our festival is about starting conversations and supporting filmmakers,” she says. “It has an everybody-is-welcome feel.”
A selection committee made up of people with varied backgrounds and occupations — editor, writer, regional park manager, filmmaker, school teacher and others — unite in their interest in films and pursuit of originality. Seeking fresh, smart, unique perspectives, they don’t always agree.
“We think about challenging the audience but also finding things they like. Films are 40 minutes or less, so if someone doesn’t like a film, it won’t last long and the next one will be coming soon,” Sigal says.
The festival organization goes a long way to support young filmmakers, encouraging creativity and expression year-round with youth media support initiatives and the annual festival’s two youth filmmaker categories and a two-hour children’s matinee. Documentaries are particularly strong every year, a reality that leads Sigal to mention that more comedies and animation submissions would be welcome.
“Documentaries are interesting and watchable, so they’re popular in the Bay Area. Maybe people aren’t making narrative films because it’s harder to find originality … we have some, but I’d love to have more.”
On the program this year are three evenings of films centered on nightly themes.
The theme “Humanity on the Big Screen” presents “Father K” and “Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno,” short documentaries that recognize and herald the bridge-building legacies of two community activists. The theme “Our Beautiful Home Planet” features a trio of environmental stories on Oregon’s Crater …
Source:: East Bay – Entertainment