One of the more frustrating aspects of the festival submission process is the seemingly arbitrary method by which films are selected. Since no one person has the time to watch the hundreds or thousands of films a festival receives, fests have to parcel out the preliminary aspects of screening to, at minimum, get the list down to a manageable size so the core programmers can make the final decisions. Often these people in the first line of defense are volunteers and, let's face it, they may or may not know what the hell they're doing.
It's not surprising, then, when good films don't make the cut and bad films do. It's just one of the hazards of festivals.
Some say the answer to that is for festivals to give feedback to the films that didn't make it, but isn't that just making the situation more volatile by giving the already over-taxed screeners more work? How does help?
Enter the Festivus Film Festival, a 3rd year festival out of Denver geared toward "the guy that pawned his car to make a film." They're a very filmmaker-centric festival (and one that programmed my film gravida back in year one) named after a Seinfeld episode. This year they've added something interesting: videos of the screeners talking about what they like in this year's crop. Here's Johnathan McFarlane (also the festival director) on Jeremy Dehn's Miracle Investigators :
Does this add more work for the festival? Yeah, sure. But it also puts a face on the festival and shines a little bit of light on the process. I think we can all appreciate that.
See the rest of the videos