by Lisa Talley
The multiplex. It’s been the staple for moviegoers to experience the magic of film. We’re blasted with blockbusters in the summer and gifted with dramas in the fall. In a way, mainstream movies connect us throughout every corner of the country by sharing the same story. But with this, through solely exposing ourselves to major commercial studio films, we miss something… something unique, something daring… something that can only be felt and experienced in an independent film.
To be fair, major studios do find themselves in the rare position to make some uniquely noteworthy movies, but independent films give us something a little more personal and sometimes a little more raw. Without the overwhelming need for capital gain, independent filmmakers are in a league of their own. Theirs is a drive to tell a story that needs to be told. That’s it. It’s a love for cinema and a love for storytelling that brings these films to life. So if you’re looking for a little more out of your movie-going experience, you may just want to check out the Fresno Film Festival on November 11th.
Hosted by Fresno Filmworks, the Fresno Film Festival will be held over the course of 3 days and it will feature 8 independent films (short descriptions to the right). The annual event will be celebrating its 12th installment at the historic Tower Theatre and boasts extras such as beer, wine, and spirits which are made available to patrons over the age of 21 for purchase. There will be guest appearances such as János Edelényi, director of “The Carer” on November 12th, as well as US poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on November 13th. Opening night will also have something special in way of a ‘social gathering’; after the showing of “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble”, audience members are welcome to join the reception that will be held in the Tower Theatre lobby. Patrons will enjoy terrazzo with champagne and hor d’oeuvres from Casa de Tamales and Between the Sheets Baklava. Admission to the reception is included with your ticket to the opening night film.
Each film for the festival was chosen with the utmost care, members from the Fresno Filmworks board form a festival programming committee to research possible candidates. The committee determines a film’s eligibility based on the following criteria: the film must be first-run, meaning that the films aren’t available on the home market in places like Netflix or RedBox, and it has a distributor or is currently playing the festival circuit (screening at other film festivals). From there the board develops the program with a strong focus, to present a diverse selection of films that represent different countries and cultural perspectives.
The festival will have tickets to each individual film available for $10, and $8 for students and seniors. Die-hard film buffs will be happy to know that there is a festival pass good for all 3 days complete with access to both the opening reception and as well as the Sunday after party held at Fresno Music Academy & Arts (formerly the Voice Shop) with food and drink. It should be noted that only those with festival passes and sponsors will have access to this particular social event.
Fresno Filmworks has been bringing first-run, feature-length independent and foreign language cinema to Fresno every month at the Tower Theatre for almost 15 years. The non-profit organization is completely volunteer run and possesses a passion for filling the need in providing alternative cinema in Fresno. Follow them on social media to stay up to date on their events all year round.