Picture Farm is proud to announce the 2017 edition of the Picture Farm Film Fest, with a program made up of: Global Environment Issues for the Local Audience, Black Voices in Independent Film, Defying Gender Identity Labels and Untold Stories of Struggle & Change from Around The World. It is free for those who want to attend.
Interview with Festival Director Winnie Cheung
What does the third Picture Farm Film Festival mean for your audience and for the filmmaking community?
Picture Farm Production's alter ego, Picture Farm Gallery has been a part time labour of love for everyone at PF. Over the last few years, we've hosted solo art shows, group shows, school fundraisers and friendly pop up events. We always keep everything free and PF Film Fest is no exception. For the third time in a row, we've offered festival submission and attendance to the festival at no cost. We work with our vendors and local businesses to donate in kind materials and services to put this all together. All of us have donated our time and resources for the love of great films.
What are some of the highlights?
There's a strong focus on cultivating dialogue at this festival. Each shorts block is approximately an hour long which is shorter than most traditional programs. We hope that this extra Q&A time will open up conversations up to wandering thoughts and ideas before it gets cut short like a lot of Q&As that we've been to.
We’ve also invited guest moderators to lead each block. We have Vanessa Haroutunian who helps run Queer/Art with Ira Sachs, members from Cinefemme, Ron Brodie and Dr. Jennifer Galvin. These are all moderators who can speak with personal experience in regards to their respective blocks.
This year, we've partnered up with Adorama Rentals, Explosion Robinson and Blue Fever for some fabulous prizes and opportunities. Since we're not about giving away awards here at Picture Farm, we will randomly select a filmmaker in attendance before screenings. We will also open this opportunity up to all filmmakers who submitted their films to Picture Farm. We all know how hard it is to put yourself out there in order to make a film. We want these prizes to be as accessible and inclusive as possible.
Of course, our weekend will be sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon and and ZIONBAFFA wines. We'll be screening free films, serving free beer and free wine all weekend. What's not to like?
Why did you begin the film festival? Can you discuss your involvement?
The festival has been around for a few years now. Employees of Picture Farm take turns curating and organizing the event. I took on the role this year for a few different reasons. First, I had a film that screened at Marfa Film Festival last year. It was the best film festival experience I've attended to date. I was very inspired by the festival director, Robin Lambaria. She has such a deep passion for building a space completely dedicated to the filmmakers. She taught me that it's equally important to find time to support other people's vision as it is to develop your own. Marfa was magical and I wanted to bring some of that spirit back to New York with me.
I also felt like post election, everyone has been looking for safer spaces to express themselves. I wanted to put together a festival where the conversation afterwards would as important as the screening themselves. The stories we tell and the way we tell them are a cultural barometer for the current state of things. I hope that each block will be a jumping point for conversations between the filmmakers and the audience.
Did you have a special selection criteria for all the films?
Each film has been screened at least once and rated by a Picture Farmer. During our judging process, we’ve kept a holistic approach to make sure that the overall style, tone and length of each film worked with one another for well rounded blocks and overall programming. There were also a few films like our opening and closing film that was by invitation.
What does the category 'Defying Gender Identity Labels' mean and why did you find it important to include?
Whether we notice it or not, fluidity in gender identity & sexuality is all around us but we still experience gender binarism, and heteronormative narratives in mainstream media. Whether it's on TV, print or film we learn at a young age that girls should act "like girls" and only fall in love with boys and vice versa. Boys learn to tune out their femininity. We need more stories where the people in front and behind the camera are gender queer. For those who face discrimination because of their sexuality or gender, these stories can make a connection and make a difference.
Have the films surprised or challenged your point of view?
I really enjoyed learning more about Gays Against Guns. GAG is an inclusive group of LGBTQ people and their allies committed to nonviolently stopping the gun industry. They will have a film screening at the Queer City shorts block. Between 2013 and 2016, there has been a 40% increase of mass shootings in America. This is a public health issue that disproportionately affects people of color, religious minorities, and LGBTQ Americans. I'm excited for them to share more about their mission and projects to date.
What have you enjoyed most about being the director?
Being able to draw from my own festival experience and recreate the best parts from each festival. As a filmmaker myself, there are lots of small little touches that make a festival memorable. There's a lot of resources that go into everything together, but once people started learning more about the mission of this festival, they were very quick to donate their time and resources to make it all happen. It feels good to feel the generosity of others all around you.
What are you looking to achieve by having information about the film festival more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
It's important to support independent films, and if you get a chance, independent shorts. These are the filmmakers who could use the support and confident boost to get to the next level of filmmaking. They're simultaneously developing their own body of work and championing important issues, but making the film is just one piece of the puzzle. There has to be people willing to screen their work, and an audience willing to participate. It's really easy to go to your local cinema and watch features that already have the financial support of an established studio. Perhaps consider looking into other local festivals or go a local cinema screening indie films. You might surprised by what you see.
What type of impact would you like this film festival to have?
I hope that anyone who attends would feel inspired to pay it forward any way they can. Showing support for other people is infectious. That's exactly what happened to me when I attended Marfa Film Festival. We're all struggling to get our own films made, but if we have the resources to help other people out, why not? I want to build up the work of my peers because these are the people that I want to surround myself with when I make my next film.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate about the film festival?
Why this story? Why now?
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Free tickets can be reserved here!
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela