Kevin Lambert and Jay Diaz join us to discuss The Korea Indie & Expat Film Festival
What sets KIXFF apart from other film festivals?
Kevin: What sets KIXFF apart is really 3 things:
1. transparency - some fests don't even bother letting you know a submission has been received or taken out of consideration. Thankfully, FilmFreeway takes care of part of that, but we are working to make sure filmmakers can follow the process from submission to the fest's opening.
feedback -- Getting every filmmaker a chance to see what's going through the mind of the festival reviewers. What did we like and what changed a film from a "pass" to a "consider"? Everyone gets viewed by multiple staffers and gets to read what they thought.
3. Intimacy and balls -- We don't have the cash flow of other Korean fests, (and gov't sponsors like to get handsy...) but because we're small, we can be nimble and bold in our choices. We are planning smaller screenings with interactive elements that turn a simple screening into an experience.
For those of us who are unaware, can you explain what expat filmmakers represent?
Kevin: An expat is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person's upbringing. As there are a number of expat filmmakers in Korea (and unsurprisingly elsewhere) it seemed natural to focus a program on them. While disassociating the class differences between a "migrant" and an "expat", in Korea particularly, it's about introducing the word "expat" into the Korean lexicon as a replacement for the Korean word "waygukin" which just means "foreigner". We hope to put a positive spin on multiculturalism in a country where that is booming.
Do you have a favorite film that has showcased at your Festival?
Kevin: This is our first year, so nothing has showcased yet ;). However, we plan on having a couple of one off events leading up to the fest so that'll change soon enough.
Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
Jay Diaz: There are multiple factors but not really any one particular deciding factor. Whether it’s narrative, documentary, or experimental, we are basically looking for compelling and engaging work from artists with unique voices and singular visions. We are simply looking for work that is original and tells a story. We want to support and have a forum for these international no-budget / low-budget filmmakers. We like the idea of presenting work made by international expats: people who have made their homes elsewhere, willingly or not. Living in other cultures really affects our perspectives, artistic output, and puts ourselves, and our work, in a context that sometimes we aren’t even aware of. And it’s not always easy finding the means, especially financial, to make films as a transient or expatriate.
We not only want to showcase these films made by nomads, but we are also genuinely curious to see and experience them. That being said, we are not limiting submissions to expats alone. We are accepting, screening, and presenting work made by everyone, from all over the world, regardless of subject matter, budget, equipment, or where one abides. In the end, we just want to support, present, and share honest and passionate filmmaking.
Kevin Lambert: There are more than a couple reviewers but we have a system... however, some things are impossible to put into a box. It's the intangibles that make Jay's (the programming coordinator) and my job hard as well as not knowing just how we'll curate each screening as we want it to suit the venues as well (which may be unconventional). I will say I'm amazed at how many great films come our way... how each one isn't perfect, but there are many imperfect but awesome works. I guess a short answer would be: we're not looking for perfect, but you need to have a voice.
Can you tell us more about your goal for filmmakers by focusing on nomads and no-budget shooters?
Kevin: We've seen the expat scene grow and develop to create a number of features and shorts. Most of us don't have film-based day jobs... we save our money and make movies as we can. We know the grind: shooting 15 pages on a weekend because you got your gaffer to donate two days? That's who we are and we think a lot of you can relate as well. So, we're celebrating the grind.
Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
Kevin: Thankfully nothing too "interesting"... more memorable I suppose: great conversations with Tsai Ming Liang and Samantha Fuller. This year's master classes with Fahradi and Tarr. I suppose there was that one time at Bangkok I considered kicking Oliver Stone in the balls for Any Given Sunday... not that I'd really do it, just seemed a funny thought... like I thought he might respond saying, "You're right. I deserve it."
How is your festival received both locally in Seoul and internationally?
Well, can't say yet as we're just starting, but locally the response has been stellar. Also, films are coming in from all over the world which is great.
Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in 5 years?
Kevin: I'd like to see it become more sophisticated, though not necessarily bigger. A place where a passive film lover gets the idea for their first film. I'd love for it to be a draw to an already trendy Seoul neighborhood (Itaewon). And I'd love to see Korean filmmakers starting projects with foreign talent and crew. That would be nice.