Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AIFF 2014: Questions (and Answers) People Should Be Asking About The Festival

A lot of people don't even know what questions they should be asking.  So I'm listing them out here (with the answers) to help you find out what's happening at the Anchorage International Film Festival and how to take advantage of all the great films that will be in town Dec. 5-14, 2014.

Below are links to posts with general information about the Anchorage International Film Festival.  This is a revision and update of a post I first put up about five years ago and updated again last year.  I've been checking the links to be sure they too are current for 2014.  But it's still a work in progress.

Q: Where's the official Anchorage International Film Festival website?  Click the AIFF2014  link here.

Q: What do all the categories mean? ("official selection;" "films in competition," etc.) This post defines key festival jargon you'll see in the program or on here..  It also covers the process for how films get selected for the Festival and how the winners get chosen.

Q: What  films are the best films this year (2014)?
Films in Competition are the ones chosen  to compete for the Golden Oosiker awards.  I'm working on lists of the films in competition for each category - something about each film and when and where they will play.  [For the film categories I have up for 2014, you can find the films in competition posts listed at my  AIFF 2014 tab.  Films in competition are marked with a check (√) on the Official AIFF website.]

Films in Competition  - Features 2014
Films in Competition -  Documentaries 2014
Films in Competition -  Shorts 2014
Films in Competition -  Animation 2013  (2014 never made it to a list)
Films in Competition -  Super Shorts 2013  (2014 never made it to a list)

But often there are other films that I thought were as good or better than the films in competition.  And there are some films, which for various reasons, are not eligible for prizes, so they aren't 'in competition, but they're good.

Q: Who won in each category?  None yet this year, but here are the previous winners.
2014 Winners - Official Winner list compared to my list (with my comments on the Features)
2013 Winners -  Official Winner list
2012 Winners - My 2012 winners Official compared to AIFF 2012 Winners Page
2011 Winners -  My 2011 winners (none) - Official AIFF 2011 Winners Page
2010 Winners -  My 2010 winners post -  Official AIFF 2010 Winners Page
2009 Winners -  My 2009 winners post -  Official AIFF 2009 Winners Page
2008 Winners - My 2008 winners post  -  Official AIFF 2008 Winners Page
[Note:  'My winners' are films I liked best.  Sometimes I've only discussed one category, sometimes more than one.  Sometimes my comments on a particular film  are buried in posts even I can't find.]

Q:  Short films are grouped together into 'programs.'  How do I find which short films are playing together in the same of program?
Animation Programs  2014 [There's only one program for 2014. There's also an animation in the Mexican Consulate's films- Eskimal.]
Made In Alaska  2014 (I guess this replaces what used to be called Snow Dance.  There are eight programs)
Short Docs 2014
Super Short Narrative 2014  (There are four programs, including one of Mexican films)
Family Program 2014

Q:  What is FG?  
The short answer:  Festival Genius.
The longer answer:  It's a film festival software program that AIFF has acquired that makes it much easier to find out when and where the films will be shown.  It takes a little bit of time to figure out how it works.

Step 1:   You click on the blue FG icon  on the AIFF website, or  you can click here.
Step 2:  Then you can choose films.  That opens up four more choices.  For starters look under category, then click the blue box (see green arrow) and a drop down window will give you a long list of choices.  Or you can pick countries.  If you leave three of the boxes at their starting setting ("all ...) then you'll see all the choices.  You can combine settings in boxes - say animation category and Mexico for country and that should pull up just one film.  If you know the name of the film you want, you can put it into the Film Search window on the right.

Step 3:  If, instead of films, you pick schedule, you can see what will show for that day or that week.

click to enlarge 

If you click on schedule, you'll get screening choices (red box) by week, by day, or grid.   Week and Day give you a list of films for the time period.  Grid will give you a table.

You don't have to sign in (I don't because they want too much personal information for me), but if you do, you can make your own schedule and review films, etc.

Q:  I'm not interested in the festival, but if there are any films on my favorite place, food, sport, etc.,  I'd go.  Are there any?

Festival Genius - see above -  allows you to look at a list of countries  and then see what films are being shown from that country.  Click on the blue spot for the country window and it will open a list of countries.  Then pick a country, and wait until it loads the films from that country.  Make sure you have "all events" and "all films" in the event and film windows.

Also note the red box in the lower left.  The film festival (2014) spans two calendar weeks and so you have to check for each week.  Just click on the week and it changes.

To find out about films of special topics, you need to look through the films themselves. I'll try to make some lists of topics if I see any patterns and I'll link here.  There are family films,  Alaska films, Mexican films sponsored by the Mexican Consul, Chinese films sponsored by the Confucius Institute at UAA, and the Gayla films.

How do I find your blog posts on specific films or film makers?  In the AIFF 2014 Page - It's a tab under the orange heading at the top of my blog - I'll have an index of posts by category and an index of posts in reverse chronological order.  Here's a link to that tab.   You can see them in the archive on the right side.  They'll mostly be in December, with some in November and I try to start them with AIFF2014.

Do you have videos of the Festival? - I'll add the video posts as I get a chance to make and edit them.   I'll list the posts with video in the AIFF2014 Page.  I already have some video of Attila Szasz, the director of The Ambassador to Bern,  which I got in a Skype interview with him in Budapest.   It's not edited yet.

Where will the films be shown?

 Bear Tooth, is the main venue.
1230 West 27th Avenue (West of Spenard Road) - 907.276.4200

Alaska Experience Theater
333 W 4th Ave #207, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 272-9076
There is a large and a small theater there

Anchorage Community Works** This was a new venue last year
 349 E Ship Creek Ave

Anchorage Museum
625 C Street

Marston Theater (Loussac Library) Family Programming on Saturday Dec. 14
3600 Denali St.

There are special events at other venues.  You can check all the venues next to window where you check the countries (see screenshot above).

Q:  What workshops are there?
There are five workshops with film makers.  These are chances to interact with film makers and learn some aspect of the movie craft and industry.

Q:  What are your criteria for a good movie? When I made my picks for the 2008 best films, at the end of the post I outlined my criteria. The link takes you to that post, scroll down to second part.  I also did a post in 2012 on what I thought makes a good documentary.

Q:  Should I buy a pass or just buy tickets as I go?  

Tickets are still only $8 per film.  "All films passes" are only $100.  So, if you go to twelve films, the pass is cheaper. But there are other benefits to the pass.   You also get priority seating with your pass.    That means you go into the theater first at the Bear Tooth.  You do have to get a ticket (free when you show your pass) for each film at the door and only a certain number of seats are held for pass holders.

And if you have a pass, you'll go see more films because you'll think "I've paid for them. I should go and get my money's worth."
All Films passes get you into Workshops, and discounts for a few extra events, like the opening night film (which is actually $30 a ticket) and the awards. These extra events also have food.

Another option is to volunteer and get a pass to a movie.

You can buy tickets at the venues.  You can also get advanced tickets at the venues.
You can also buy them online.  Tickets are already available.

Q:  What about family films? 
Saturday, December 6, at 11am at Loussac Library - in the Marston Auditorium..  This is a free event.  You can see the family program here.  (As I'm posting this, there is no list of films yet at this link, just the time and place.)

Q:  Any free events?
Yes, there are.  Besides the family films (right above), Made in Alaska, and two of the workshops.  You can see them all here.

Q:  Who Are You Anyways? - who's paying you to do this? does your brother have a film in competition? What is your connection to the festival? From an earlier post here's my  Disclosure:

 I sort of accidentally blogged about the  2007 festival  and the AIFF people liked what I did and asked if I would be the official blogger in 2008. They promised me I could say what I wanted, but I decided it was better to blog on my own and then if I write something that upsets one of the film makers, the Festival isn't responsible.  The Festival has a link to my site.  They also threw in a free pass for me in each year since 2008.

I probably won't say anything terrible about a film, but I did rant about one film in the past that I thought was exploiting its subject as well as boorishly demeaning a whole country. I mentioned in an earlier post that if I sound a little promotional at times, it's only because I like films and I like the kinds of quirky films that show up at festivals, so I want as many people to know about the festival as  possible so the festival will continue. Will I fudge on what I write to get people out? No way. There are plenty of people in Anchorage who like films. They're my main target - to get them out of the house in the dark December chill when inertia tugs heavily if they even think about leaving the house. But if others who normally don't go out to films hear about a movie on a topic they're into, that's good too.

I did a post a couple of years ago for Film Festival Skeptics who might be sitting on the fence and need to be given reasons to go and strategies to make it work.

Q:  How Does One Keep Track of What's Happening at the Festival?
I'll be blogging the film festival every day.  The link below will be my festival posts only, starting with the most recent.  There should also be printed programs in the Anchorage Press you can pick up around town as well and go to the Festival Webpage.

My blog will update every day.  My Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF 2014)  tab on top will have an overview of what's happening each day.

Q:  Are there other Alaskan Film Festivals?  
There are some events called 'festival' that I know of in Anchorage, but they aren't major film events like this one.  There is another organization,  that puts Alaska in its name and used to rent a postal box in Alaska, but has no other connection that we can find to Alaska.  You can read about that at  Comparing the ANCHORAGE and ALASKA International Film Festivals - Real Festival? Scam?

Anyone who knows of other legitimate film festivals in Alaska, let me know.  I've heard stuff about Sitka Film Festival  in February. And there's also an Indigenous Film Festival in February and  there's been an Alaska Native Film Festival.  And there's the Farthest North Jewish Film Festival in Fairbanks.

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