The New York International Independent Film & Video Festival - NYIIFVF

Dan Frank advertising the screening of his movies

Walking into the opening night of the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival I was greeted by a mélange of directors promoting films ranging in style from ballet mécanique to documentary. The NYIIFVF is recognized as one of the largest competitive independent film events on the festival circuit, and serves as a unique platform for emerging filmmakers to gain a voice and network amongst distributors. The festival, founded in 1993 by entertainment impresario Stuart Alson, is notorious for promoting the underdog.

King Red Productions pushing their "Roar Into Action" Kids Club

I was fortunate enough to meet some of these ‘underdog’ directors, screenwriters, cinematographers and producers who may become the newest members of Hollywood talent discovered by the NYIIFVF.   Previously, the festival has included the work of Cameron Diaz, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Sean Lennon, Willem Dafoe and Vin Diesel.

 

Veronique Brisson with Elizabeth Becker in front of Veronique's Djinnova Banner

Djinnova , a film by Canadian student, Veronique Brisson, was the only film of this year’s festival shot on 16 mm. The five minute film was reminiscent of work by Sergei Eisenstein, shot to capture . Director, Brisson, a slight, quirky gymnast, herself, was clearly inspired by her passion for the sport. “When you work on something that really means something to you, the work shows it.” The film’s unique style originates from her desire to use less traditional creative techniques to tell a story. One inspirational movie for her was "Momento."

Djinnova The Film

Acquiring a Connection with the American Homeless, directed by Louell Crowley and produced by Pennington Palm Productions, reflects a new approach to solving the growing problem of homelessness in the United States. Crowley has developed the first ‘instructional video’ geared toward teaching its viewers how to directly interact with the homeless they come across. When asked where she draws inspiration from, Crowley stated, “Americans need to start taking care of Americans. Our film teachers a regular person how to go out and help the homeless, give them hope and love, and help to go on with their lives. If one person goes out and helps one person we can make a difference.”

Louell Crowley and Margaret Montgomery with "Acquiring a Connection with American Homeless"

Crowley ’s previous work includes a public television series, “ Invisible People,” a Houston program which focuses on “changing the opinion on who the homeless really are,” and reflects many of the same views as the documentary.

More Invisible People here

Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean, or so says long-time public television writer and producer, Ellen Friedman, who is in the midst of producing her latest film, scheduled for release in October 2008. Friedman, hair bouncing with wild curls that seem to mirror her passionate personality, took on telling the story of Muslim, Jewish and Christian Ugandans who have come together to form the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee cooperative in the name of peace. “The exhilaration the co-op embers feel from their achievements spills into everyday life; old prejudices and distrusts have evaporated into a new reality grounded in harmonious relationships,” said Friedman, when asked where she drew inspiration for the documentary. Whether the enthusiasm surrounding the film’s release was engendered by such inspirational subject matter, or the many samples of Mirembe Kawomera Coffee, was difficult to say. However, the Ugandan coffee, distributed by the Californian free- trade Thanksgiving Coffee Company, was indisputably delicious. 


As I walked away from the festival, a little caffeinated and contagiously enthused, I realized that the message of the NYIIFVF still rings true in 2007. Brisson, Crowley and Friedmen represent what the festival is all about- supporting independent filmmakers, regardless of their background or expertise, to encourage a community of creativity, a rare gem often lost amongst Hollywood commercialism.

"Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean" was inspired by the Cooperation between Muslim, Jews, Christians to sell coffee beans



For more information on our feature directors and the NYIIFVF visit these links:

NYIIFVF:
www.nyfilmvideo.com

Djinnova:
www.veroniquebrisson.ca

Acquiring a Connection with American Homeless:
www.penningtonpalmproductions.com

Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean:
www.mirembekawomera.com

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