New Media Film Festival 2012

"New Media Film Festival intersects the interactivity of new technologies & formats for media & cinema with global consciousness. A festival where we honor stories worth telling that are created by people of all ages-all cultures-all media."
-NMFF mission statement

The third annual New Media Film Festival took place on the west side of Los Angeles on June 12th and 13th, 2012. Susan Johnston, the founder of the NMFF, moved the event from its previous location in the middle of Hollywood to the spacious (and cool) Landmark Theater in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. This turned out to be a very good idea as there was much more room for the large crowd that attended both days of the festival. Plus, parking was easier and the screening theaters were much more comfortable. I think perhaps this change in venue made the festival more relaxed and easier to attend this year, too.

Now, if you are wondering what the term "new media" means, it's essentially a broad description of types of media that have sprung up as a result of the digital/internet revolution of the last decade. Much of it is "on demand" and created outside of the traditional Hollywood/Entertainment industry. It's also a global phenomenon bringing creators and artists from all over the world together via the internet to collaborate and celebrate new forms and new stories for the 21st century.

"When you make something you have a passion for, people are going to help you."
-Ray Bradbury, NEA documentary

Opening Night

Tuesday night opening festivities included a traditional red carpet walk for the stars and VIPs who are part of the festival. It was quite exciting to see John Savage and Sally Kirkland together beaming at the cameras. Other VIPs on the red carpet included Ceej, Tamara Henry, Steve Ledoux, Mark Rydell, Jane Espenson, Barry Goldberg and many more. With more room than last year, you could see and hear the VIPs much better.

After the festival opened with a wonderful (and unexpected) song sung by the glorious Irina Maleeva, we were treated to several outstanding 3D films, including the "Cosmic Journey," a mind-bending trip via Hubble and Cassini space photographs recreated in 3D. This film won the 3D Stereography award for the festival and left a powerful impression. If this is the future of 3D, sign me up. Impressive as well were the short films "Sea Pavilion," by South African director Todd Somodevilla and "African Chelsea," by Brent Roske, which featured strong performances from Sally Kirkland and Corinne Becker.

The highlight of the evening, though, was an 8-minute documentary (edited from it's original length of 15 minutes) on Ray Bradbury that was produced by the NEA (NEA Big Read: Meet Ray Bradbury). Sadly, Mr. Bradbury died just before the festival and was not able to accept an award that was created for him. Still, this documentary gave a powerful impression of one of the great artists of our century. It was a moving experience to listen to Mr. Bradbury exhort viewers with such obvious passion to consider that, "the things you do should be the things that you love and the things that you love should be the things that you do." The New Media Film Festival deserves a big round of applause for managing to bring Mr. Bradbury to the festival in spite of his passing.

Right after the Bradbury tribute/award, the NMFF premiered an excellent short film, "Kaleidoscope," adapted from Mr. Bradbury's short story of the same title. Directed by Eric Tozzi and starring Brett Stimely, the story centers around the survivors of a space carrier that has exploded, sending men into space in their life-pods. They are able to communicate with each other, but the situation is hopeless. Excellent performances and striking VFX. A fitting tribute to the memory and imagination of Ray Bradbury. I'm also very pleased that it won the Grand Prize at the festival.

"The problem with the internet is that very few people have figured out how to make money by producing content."
-Bill Jarblum, moderator on NMFF panel

Wednesday Programming

The major part of the New Media Film Festival began the next day (Wednesday) with a series of panels and screenings of curated films that lasted the entire day. Panels included the Web Series SuperStar Creators Panel moderated by Stephanie Piche, a New Media Panel moderated by Bill Jarblum, and the Distribution Social Media Panel run by Logan Mulvey. Each panel lasted about 30 minutes and included Q&A with the audience. The discussions were stimulating and often passionate. A full list of all the NMFF panels is available here.

Approximately 50 short films screened between the panels. I enjoyed practically every film, although some were more accomplished technically than others. The standouts included "Live Outside the Box," a scintillating 3D animated short film directed by Shu- Hsuan Lin from Taiwan. "The Natural Order of Things," by Sarah Beeby also left a strong impression with its naturalistic presentation of robots in crisis.

One of my favorite films of the festival, "Chow Ciao! With Fabio Viviani – The Perfect Meatball" (web series), directed by Kevin Lezak, featured an extraordinary performance by Fabio Viviani showing you just how wonderful (and funny) it can be to create the perfect meatball for your pasta. I'm smiling just thinking about the film. If this is where web series are heading, we are looking at a promising future for New Media!

Very impressed that the NMFF added a new category this year: Machinima. Several excellent "real time" animated films screened, including "Dear Fairy," by Tom Jantol (which won the festival award for the category) and the genre-bending short "A Journey Into the Metaverse," by Tutsy Navarathna. These real-time animated films are usually seen on a computer screen, but looked positively wonderful on the big screen.

The screenings flowed from film to film much better than last year. The high quality of the films and their digital presentation were most impressive. So many great films from all over the world left this reviewer inspired and excited about the possibilities of New Media. And I'm sure many others in attendance felt the same way.

I was unable to attend the awards ceremony, but caught the festivities on the New Media Film Festival's YouTube channel. A full list of the award-winning films from all categories can be found at the NMFF website. And try to catch some of the films online if you get the chance as the award winners are all outstanding.

Final Thoughts

Putting together a two-day live event like the New Media Film Festival is a huge undertaking. Susan Johnston and her crew are to be congratulated for creating an inspiring and entertaining festival of films and events. I enjoyed last year's festival, but this year really seemed to shine. And although the Art on Wall selections didn't come off well due no doubt to logistics problems at the Landmark, this was the only slip in the entire festival that I was aware of.

I found the films chosen to screen at the festival particularly excellent this year, a testament to the good taste of Susan Johnston and the festival artistic director, David Kleiler. I love that they accept films right up to just before the festival starts. There were thoughtful, inspiring New Media creations from all over the world. The New Media Film Festival fills a real gap in the festival circuit and brings attention to New Media formats that will be ubiquitous in the next decade.

I highly recommend that you go through the New Media Film Festival website and consider submitting your work, or perhaps attending next year. This is a festival that is growing in leaps and bounds. I'm so glad I was able to attend this year.

My thanks to Susan Johnston and the New Media Film Festival for allowing me to attend as Press this year.


Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.

 

 

 


July 2, 2012

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