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The Odeon Film Festival Asks, "What Is a Film Festival?"
Wednesday, October 7, 2009 • Posted October 7, 2009

We owe so much to Hollywood. In the well-organized and massive business of professional filmmaking, millions upon millions are spent for the creation and production of each film that finds its way across America and into the projectors of small theaters like our Odeon. Countless hours are spent in production meetings, on-site scouting, shooting scenes, feeding cast and crew, locating and re-locating massive amounts of equipment and sets, editing, marketing, packaging and delivering. It’s actually an overwhelming operation that rivals a military transport; there are literally hundreds of well trained professionals organizing endless planning, precision and execution of every detail. And that doesn’t include the negotiations with attorneys for the actors, the unions, the film studios or the distribution companies. In short, what we see in our theater represents a huge, huge amount of energy and time and money. All we have to do is drive to the theater, pay for our ticket and be entertained. This is the film industry’s objective: to entertain us. That’s showbiz!

But if we look “behind the scenes” and take a closer “look” at the individuals either behind the camera or the costume rack or the editing booth, what we can find are artists that “started somewhere” and usually with their own dream. Just as an Olympic gold-medalist in ice skating once put on skates and toddled across the ice for the first time, so has everyone in the film industry, from actors to pyrotechnic specialists; they all start at the beginning.

Verifiable legend has it that the famed Steven Spielberg’s first films were made in his mother’s kitchen using cherry pie filling for, well, the gory parts of a bloody tale. Even the “credits” were written on a roll of her paper towels and pulled slowly to unroll in front of the camera. His desire was unstoppable, and like musicians or other artists, he kept with it, learning more, acquiring more access to better equipment and so on until, yes, you know the “rest of the story.”

What this leads us to is the value of the small independent film festivals, the first of which the Odeon Theater will be hosting on Saturday, October 24th, in conjunction with the Starving Artist’s Sidewalk Sale. These are films made by artists, not part of Hollywood, artists that use film and story as their medium which will be shown in two repeating shows, each show lasting just under two hours. All the proceeds of this festival will go towards much needed improvements for The Odeon.

And just like an art show, a film festival offers the audience a chance to see varying forms of filmmaking. Documentaries, satires, and the use of metaphors are common themes. Usually obstaining from the ‘Hollywood formula’ of 3 acts often referred to as ‘boy meets girl,’ then ‘boy loses girl,’ to be wrapped up nicely with ‘boy gets girl back again,’ independent film festivals give the audience a chance to see films, and in this case short films, that offer different styles and genres not normally offered by Hollywood, due to their need to generate business for the mass audience in order to recapture their mammoth investment.

As we see in the art world, just as one artist might use oil paints and another uses watercolor, when they show their art together, it’s still an art show; they are each showing you their art, their style. A film festival is also an art show, offering the viewers different styles and different takes on their own dream of becoming a filmmaker. They can be very refreshing alternatives that provoke thought and engage emotion while entertaining.

If the viewer attending an independent film festival can suspend their belief for a moment and see the artistic talent behind the lens and envision the filmmaker with a bigger budget or a greater story or the best state of the art equipment, then the viewer just might be witnessing another Spielberg before anyone knew who Spielberg was; a filmmaker with a passion. And hasn’t he given us many wonderful moments of enjoyment and impact? It is thrilling to think that all of that started in his mother’s kitchen. Another testimony to letting the artist within come out and play, with all of us. Thanks, mom.

The Odeon Film Festival tickets are available at the box office on Saturday, October 24 and for the cost of $15 each, the ticket will include a free popcorn and fountain drink. Two of the same showings will be offered at 1PM and again at 3:30PM. Following each showing, documentary filmmaker Anthony Cherian will tell his story of filming HILL COUNTRY and will also take some time for Q&A.

The normal Hollywood feature will be shown at The Odeon on Saturday evening at the regular time of 7PM. Please join us and support the improvements of The Odeon and welcome a new form of art — the film festival.

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