An invitation to any film fest is a call to action in Joseph Campbell speak, so to speak. But a hero’s journey to another country to attend an international film fest is an opportunity you must find a way to take.
Never mind the tsunami of weird, cool, challenging, inspiring, mind fucking films offered in different languages, the reason to attend these global gatherings is the people and characters you will meet who share your love for film and the craft; writers, directors, producers, financiers, agents, DPs, SFX wizards, actors [actors love film festivals].
Attending the panels and one on one interviews is essential, but the real networking is at the parties and in the bars between and after events. You will most likely end up having a drink and sharing war stories with a writer/director/actor/producer/animator/executive etc., you would find impossible to meet through normal industry channels. And then, keep in touch. Career opportunities are born in this kind of environment.
But the single most important reason to attend film festivals is:
FILM FESTIVALS PROMOTE CO-EXISTENCE
And Co-Existence is the only hope we have to survive as a species on this planet.
The Arts will save us.
The multitude of cultures, ethnic origins, languages, religious beliefs, types of governments, genders and gender preferences, that attend film festival come together celebrate and create, not to ridicule, insult and destroy.
MAKE FILMS – NOT WAR
The Shanghai International Film Festival, June 15 – 22, 2018 is a perfect example. I was invited by the sponsors of the Drama Flagship Hollywood Salon, and Hollywood Embassy, a Chinese and US partnership to promote screenwriting in China; my topic — to speak on the importance of script development in the filmmaking process. I immediately accepted for all the reasons stated above and because, based on my bumpy experience with 3 separate China based development deals, I felt I could certainly address this need.
However, when I arrived in China, I was disturbed by the front page headlines in South China Newspaper [English Version]; “CHINA AT WAR WITH UNITED STATES”. I am entering a host country that my homeland started a war with and China prepping to retaliate. A trade war mind you, but not a good start.
As I rode to the venue through the streets of the amazing city of Shanghai, I saw no anti-American protests or signs. Just plentiful signs and colorful banners in celebration of the SIFF.
And then, being introduced at the Screenwriter’s Salon [located in the impressive original Russian Embassy compound] by one of my hosts, Nathan Boyd, there were no boos from the audience. No insults and denigrating catcalls.
But rather, a warm applause, and some even stood up, which is not normally behavior in the Chinese character. Even audible cheers when I dropped the newspaper on the floor and stepped on it. I can do that in our country. They cannot.