Susan Gorrell, Executive Director Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, on this year's event!
What can attendees look forward to from this year's event?
We've got lots of great things planned again for this year. It's my goal to always provide four days of not only film screenings of our Official Selection, but an atmosphere where the independent filmmaker feels important. JDIFF is about YOU and your project. Panels have been added on distribution and film financing, as well as buyer meet and greets with a few of our special guest that will be attending.
Our 2016 event is very exciting, as this is our 5th year, and everything just keeps getting bigger and better. We have a lot for everyone and every age. Along with great films that have been selected from hundreds of submissions, we have special evening events, such as our Friday night Silent/Classical film event. This year we will be showing "The Lost World" one of the first stop-motion animated films. The music will be an original score and played LIVE by the World renowned band DENGUE FEVER, as part of their midwest tour. All details on panels and special events can be viewed on our website.
Being one of MovieMaker Magazine's Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals is a great achievement.
What distinguishes JDIFF apart from other festivals? We take pride in greeting and treating our attendees and filmmakers with great respect. We really want you to enjoy Dubuque and everything we have to offer. Dubuque is a beautiful city on the Mississippi. Not something you'd expect when coming to Iowa. The people are wonderful and very, very supportive.
Also, communication is extremely important to me. I try to be as accessible as possible from the very beginning to the very end. I realize how expensive festivals can be and there are thousands to choose from. So I feel very honored when filmmakers choose JDIFF for their submission and/or to attend. I just wish we could accept more than we do, but unfortunately we can't. I don't like to over-saturate the four days to the point where films can't be seen because of too many choices. I like to screen our Official Selection from 2 - 4 times throughout the entire four days. This way, an attendee has a chance to see all films screened here. Plus, if a filmmaker is spending money to come to Dubuque to represent their film and be available for Q&A, I'd like to make it worth their trip. It's a lot better to have up to 4 times of Q&A, then just once and then it's over.
$40,000 in Awards will be handed out at JDIFF. How are the awards distributed?
Our awards ceremony is on Saturday evening, followed by the Awards after-party celebration. The ceremony is in the majestic Five Flags Theater, with the after-party in the arena. A beautiful award is given that evening, along with a check for the category.
What do you look for in award winning films?
I have an intense screening process. I have over 100 screening volunteers that help me view films and score. The process narrows all down to the Official Selection and nominees. Our Jury reviews the top nominees and picks the winners. Our past Jury members have been a a film critic from Rotten Tomatoes, Director, Producer, Director of Photography and the head of Screen International/Media, who was also a past Chairman of the Board for BAFTA. The 2016 Jury will be comprised of the same. All films submitted have been reviewed and scored for JDIFF. This is very important.
Is there something in particular that award winning films share?
Just a good quality film. There's no specific "theme" for this festival. We score based on quality of the film; plot, camera, lighting, sound, acting, everything. If your film didn't make it in our festival, it doesn't necessarily mean we didn't like it, just means it didn't score high enough to beat out the others.
What piece of advice would you give filmmakers who are currently in production or development?
When we review and score films we score on the story, sound, lighting, camera work, acting, etc. We look at the film as a whole and score. To me, a film should be judged by the quality, not by the budget.
I find that sound and lighting seem to be the most missed in independent films. Spend a little extra there, as it's so important and can make a huge difference when scoring your film. Acting is another very important piece. There are some great performers out there, take your time and find them. It really does affect the film when the acting is bad. And lastly, be original. It's great to see films that are an original theme/story. Not the same thing. Oh, and comedies! I'd love to see more comedies. (I like to laugh - LOL). It's surprising to me that there are very few comedies. You should enjoy filming. That's why I think a festival should not only be about business, but it should be enjoyable. A filmmaker should feel they are very important, no matter what the budget was on their film and I think Dubuque and JDIFF does just that! I hope it stays that way forever. At least it will while I'm here.
Only a few days to submit your film to JDIFF 2016
You have until January 11, 2016 to submit your film to this year's festival.
Visit https://filmfreeway.com/festival/JulienDubuqueInternationalFilmFestival for information.