Talk Show: No Borders (AFI Hollywood Film Festival, 2008)

Reviewed by Emily Gray. Viewed at the Roosevel Hotel Cinema Lounge, AFI Film Festival, Hollywood.

During the AFI Hollywood Film Festival, not only were they showing films, but they also had interviews with filmmakers as well. Throughout the week there were interviews on global filmmaking, distribution and screenwriting. The one I saw was “Global Filmmaking: No Borders” on Saturday afternoon. In the middle of the talk, a cell phone went off. Not silencing the phone was rude to begin with, but the man went on to answer it and tell whoever it was that called how boring the talk show was! However, to a filmmaker, the talk wasn’t boring at all and provided much insight into the world of global movie making.

It was very interesting to listen to the filmmakers talk about the topic and interact with one another. On the panel were three directors who specialized in foreign films. They were Daniel Junge, Sascha Paladino and Anthony Fabian. (Fabian’s movie Skin played later during the week and got great reviews.) Moderating the panel was Steven Gaydos, executive editor of Variety.

The directors were asked how “no borders” applies to global filmmaking, and they each had a very insightful response. Fabian, who spoke the most out of the three, said that it is human nature that we feel a need to find a community we identify with yet by doing so we make it easier to seclude ourselves.  He went on to say that the world is full of opportunities and that when we approach filmmaking with no borders, “the world becomes our creative oyster.” Paladino approached the matter by explaining that global filmmaking needs to be a cultural exchange and you rely heavily on local communities. Furthering that point, Junge clarified that you need to realize that you’re a tourist and you can’t come in imposing your views. The best way to make a good foreign film, especially a documentary, is to ally yourself with collaborators from that country.

So once you get your film made how do you get it out? The directors discussed how competitive the industry is, specifically when you are an independent filmmaker. You may have a great story, but someone might have a better one or may have used better equipment. One of the major ways they get word out on their movies are film festivals, and the pressure to get into one is tremendous considering it may be their only shot at getting their film looked at. Also, when your film is being shown at a festival there is a much greater chance it will be picked up by a distributor.

More often then not, independent documentary filmmakers are so concerned with getting their message out that they have turned to new technology and even unconventional methods. The model is changing to distribute movies, with the internet playing a big role. Online filmmakers are able to market their films even if it means reducing prices. Self distribution works well as long as people are aware it exists. And if they don’t, filmmakers may go to such extremes as to drop a few DVD’s on the street so then they’ll be pirated in mass amounts just so they can get the message out.

I found Paladino to be the most interesting and versatile director. Not only does he make shorts and documentaries but he also writes for children’s television. He interestingly pointed out that both are similar in that you are working outside your element. His current project he’s working on combines the two; it’s a children’s show that teaches mandarin Chinese to preschoolers!

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