The DC Independent Film Festival has “kept the independent spirit in Washington, DC” for over 20 years, and with that in mind, the organization is poised for a revolution in the way it connects filmmakers to their audiences.
âWe call ourselves an experimental festival this year,â says Deirdre Evans-Pritchard, executive director of DCIFF. She’s only half kidding when highlighting new developments at DCIFF 2021, a 10-day list of screenings, discussions, and online and in-person seminars that ends April 8.
One of the ways DCIFF does things differently is by “creating activity around films,” explains Evans-Pritchard. âWe have reduced the number of films we broadcast by less than half. Normally we show up to around 80. We show 30 this year. And in this process, we’re going to pay as much attention as we can to each of these films and the filmmakers, and dig deeper into what’s in the film, deeper into the cinema – which isn’t just for a few anymore. -a, but it’s for everyone – and having more conversations and more free trade and public involvement. “
For the documentary Sapelo, on the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people, Evans-Pritchard will lead an online chat with filmmaker Nick Brandestini, from his home in Switzerland. âWe’re also trying to get a group from the Gullah Geechee community together to have a conversation,â says Evans-Pritchard. “And we have another film, also a documentary, Pine Ridge bears, who is from the Oglala Sioux community on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where they have the highest teen suicide rate in the country. Someone is also coming to town with one of the young people. We’re going to take them out and knock on some doors to see if they can get any help. And we’ll be filming it as we go.
As festival director since 2012, Evans-Pritchard points out that just seeing independent films is no longer the hard part for audiences. âOnline streaming is amazing, that’s a good thing,â she said. âAnd it’s bad for film festivals and film festivals are going to die. And I’ll be honest, they should. There comes a time when some things are no longer needed. Online streaming is here to stay, and streaming when you want to watch a movie is here to stay. [So] we redesign what we do in the film world and decide where we can help rather than just hanging on to the meaning of the awards nightâ¦ which has been around for so long that people have hung on to it.
The organization is not even obliged to call its flagship event a festival. âWe are transforming to become a forum,â she says. âWe are now the DC Independent Film Festival and Forum. [In 2023], it will become the DC Independent Forum. The festival will be gone, and our model will be to develop intensive experiences around each film.
The name may change, but the spirit will remain the same. âOur mission as an organization is to support filmmakers,â explains Evans-Pritchard. âIt’s our role here. And what we would like to dispel in this process is that just because people don’t have $ 20 million to back a movie doesn’t mean that [the] the movie is not as good and, sorry, sometimes better than the big money ones.
DCIFF 2021 takes place online and in person until April 8. All films are available as part of the virtual festival, which you can access by purchasing a pass for $ 25.
To see the schedule of in-person screenings and events held at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, Arts Club of Washington, and the Tabard Inn, visit www.dciff-indie.org.