AFTERFEST INTERVIEW : KATHLEEN MCINNIS, CURATOR

We’re back with year two of Afterfest — the official Palm Springs Film Festival’s Shortfest afterparty with DJs, late night food, R-rated bingo and trivia, plus nice deals on rooms with food, beverage and Feel Good Spa credits. To kick things off, we had a chance to sit down with the festival’s film curator, Kathleen McInnis and get caught up on this year’s selection.

Last year’s ShortFest saw several entries from filmmakers who didn’t take the traditional path through film school. Are the novices still trending or leveling off? What does it all mean?

We always have a large number of films from emerging filmmakers, whether they take the film school route or not, because the short film format is so perfect to use in perfecting your visual storytelling voice. I think that is one of the more dynamic aspects of ShortFest — these collective emerging cinematic voices are fresh, visually stimulating, emotionally demanding in a way we haven’t experienced before.

Is it only a matter of time before social media finds a way to bring short film medium back to “the masses” à la Fatty Arbuckle?

Ah, the dream — to have audiences at large and worldwide re-embrace the short form not only as art but absolutely as valid entertainment. The short form theatrical venue so well established in the teens and early ‘20’s took nearly 70 years to crumble, but once gone is hard to get back. Theater owners realized more income from an extra feature screening crammed into the space left by taking out short form (not to mention adding in advertising to the space formerly occupied by cartoons and short films) and so were loath to give that up. Certainly, we’ve seen social networking sites and for-profit film sites on the internet trying to occupy that market share, but for me I still believe that we can create a valid and exciting cinema experience by adding back in the short form to the front of the featured film. I hope arthouse theaters far and wide embrace the idea as a way to bring another level of cinema experience to their audience — an experience that can’t be recreated on a laptop or in a dorm room.

Nollywood is the third largest producer of movies now. Where’s the next “_ollywood” going to be?

Wow, that’s like trying to forecast the weather — everyone has opinions and charts and numbers, but at the end of the day it’s still a bit of luck and happenstance. Some would say New Zealand is already it (Zollywood?), with the mega-productions of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings series, etc. But historically, once a location is “shot out” film production simply moves on and finds a new geographic look somewhere else. Nigeria’s huge output of film and video, I think, is really a response to a dearth of product throughout a large landscape. India’s vast production of Bollywood films stays strong because of the dedicated audiences found not just in India now but throughout the world. And Hollywood’s domination of film screens worldwide is still a result of the demand for  visual popcorn by those with money and time but not a lot of sophisticated taste (i.e. kids). When looking at the emerging voices coming from the East (SE Asia, Singapore, China-including Hong Kong, Indonesia, etc) I see new stories told with sophisticated storytelling and well trained craft. It feels quite fresh, so perhaps that’s where we’ll ultimately find the next “_ollywood”.

Does your personal mental highlight reel have a soundtrack?

I never thought of it until you asked but then I started to listen and sure enough, it does! Music from Blade Runner, The Mission, Lawrence of Arabia, The Big Chill, Babel, Santitos, Amadeus, Wicker Park, Garden State, Footloose (original), Dirty Dancing, Happy Feet, Clay Pigeons and One False Move dominate my play list. And, to be honest, I kind of expect a full orchestra to bust out at any given moment throughout my day!


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