Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Report from the G.I. Film Festival

At first, it feels like kind of an odd juxtaposition to be walking down a red carpet at the foot of the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. But that's how the G.I. Film Festival rolls. And if you think about it, why not? The relationship between film and the military is arguably one of the industry's strongest and longest-standing.

Except that the GIFF, now in its fifth year, doesn't exist to further tout the big Hollywood military blockbusters. Its purpose is to shine a spotlight on independent fare that portrays the military in more intimate and non-conventional ways. (Like "Memorial Day" itself, the festival isn't pro-war or anti-war; it's pro-empathy.)

We were fortunate enough to play last Saturday night as part of a special GIFF event honoring military spouses. The evening included an awards ceremony honoring the Lifetime TV series "Army Wives" and was attended by lead actors Sally Pressman and Brian McNamara. And we played after a cleverly conceived and well-executed 6-minute short film called "High Card Trumps," directed by Geoffrey Quan.

The organizers of the festival couldn't have been nicer, and it must be said that after a dozen screenings, the film has never looked or sounded better than it did at the GIFF. While the theater itself was chilled to about 55 degrees, the audience reception was pleasantly warm, especially after the show as we hob-nobbed with media members and fellow filmmakers.

After the screening, director Sam Fischer invited me, executive producer Jeff Traxler, producer Craig Christiansen and editor Bill Rammer up on stage for a brief Q&A, where I was once again surprised that one of the most frequent questions we get involves how we accomplished a certain scene involving a prosthetic body part. The line of the night went to Jeff Traxler, who quipped that "we were done with that actor, anyway, so we thought we might as well shoot him."

When we returned home, we were thrilled to find out that the GIFF has awarded us "Best Narrative Feature" of 2012--our second such award if you include the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Thank you, D.C., and thank you, GIFF!

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