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And Now A Word From The New Haven Underground Film Festival

By Mike Everleth ⋅ February 19, 2007

First, the news:

The New Haven Underground Film Festival is pleased to announce that this year’s fest, to be held May 12, 2007 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., will be held in what co-founders Michael Mongillo and Todd Dzicek hope will be the festival’s permanent home: The Augusta Curtis Cultural Center in Meriden, CT. After bouncing around Connecticut the past few years, NHUFF hopes to settle in at the recently renovated theater and conference venue from here on out.

Next, the commentary:

Along with the press release with the above news, Michael Mongillo shared some of his personal thoughts about last year’s fest and film festival submissions in general in an email, which he said I could post up. In my recent NHUFF Call for Entries post, I remarked that last year’s festival was a shorts-only event. I had assumed that was intentional, but Michael told me otherwise:

Just to clarify, without hostility (so please, please, please do not infer any), the only reason we didn’t show any features in competition last year is because we didn’t get a single one that we felt worked for our program. We did have one special-invite screening feature, Chris Gore’s My Big Fat Independent Movie though, so technically, we did screen a feature in 2006.

I know that no features in the competition tweaked a lot of people who submitted last year but this was not a reflection on the quality of the movies, a respectable portion of which were excellent, it is merely a reflection of what we tend to program at NHUFF.

Here’s some humble advice from one filmmaker who happens to run a festival to all the other filmmakers out there:

Try researching the festivals you submit to before submitting, learning you weren’t selected, and then posting whining, derogatory sour grapes about that festival on the Internet.

When I consider submitting my work to a festival, the first thing I do is look at the lists of the films they’ve screened over the last few years. If they consistently screen mostly foreign documentaries about worldwide atrocities, I’m not going submit my sci-fi dramedy to said festival. Or would I?

Historically, NHUFF screens mostly comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and animation. But we continue to get submissions about, well, worldwide atrocities. To paraphrase, our philosophy link says that we champion entertaining and fun films. I have no problem with “important” work, but they’re rarely fun or entertaining and it’s not like we didn’t tell you what we prefer.

Still, like any good festival, we have and continue to screen all types of work and genres: Narrative, documentary, and experimental, but a quick look at our archives link reveals what is outside of the norm, as do most festivals’ previous lineups. And so, I am not suggesting that NHUFF does not want to see the best of whatever is out there but, filmmakers, use a little common sense when submitting. And at the end of the day, you can submit exactly what you think a festival wants and still not get in.

There’s just no predicting or accounting for the literally dozens of reasons why one film is selected over another. I could give a lot more pointers, like how asking for a submission waiver essentially translates to a filmmaker claiming that they’re more important than everyone else who paid to submit and that they have no respect for the festival or the hard work required of a selection committee, but I guess I’ll leave it at that. If nothing else, filmmakers should try to remember that most festivals are run in the red by people who only want to help filmmakers; in NHUFF’s case, our fellow filmmakers, so cut us some slack.