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Last Washington DC film festival to close in 2020, first to go hybrid in 2021, reinvents its future

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Last Washington DC film festival to close in 2020, first to go hybrid in 2021, reinvents its future

March 26
11:12 2021

Washington, DC – The 22nd annual DC Independent Film Festival (DCIFF), March 30th to April 8th 2021, features a slate of films celebrating film imagination, new animation talent and marginalized voices that emerged from the unnatural hush of 2020’s lockdowns.

With a primary goal of fostering deep engagement with and conversation around films, DCIFF pivots from festival to forum in 2021.  DCIFF’s hybrid format combines small in-person screenings with an online viewing portal including live streamed and pre-recorded interviews and discussions which allow audiences to remain a part of the experience and exploration of film.  Executive Director Deirdre Evans-Pritchard says that “Online streaming has come to save the filmmakers but destroy the traditional film festival, now no longer needed.” She adds that “as we plug in, we lose the common ground where independent filmmakers and the audience can meet. One path forward is to create new unexpected experiences and contexts for audiences and filmmakers, another is to support filmmakers in their new virtual entities.” To start, at DCIFF 2021, post-screening Q&As will be audience-inclusive and wide-ranging.

All films, seminars and some Q&As are available online as part of the Virtual Festival (accessed by purchasing a pass for $22) and include the feature Sons of Happiness, a caustic statement on marriage and class in China, and an exceptional short animation medley.  There will be notable in-person events, screened in compliance with local Covid19 pandemic restrictions. The festival opens on March 30th at 9pm (Arlington Drafthouse, VA) with the documentary Sapelo, a gorgeously rendered documentary about the last members of the Gullah-Geechee community on Sapelo Island, Georgia whose heritage, while fading, remains vibrant. 

As Washington DC starts to open, discussions with filmmakers will reflect on the role that public gatherings play in the cultural tapestry of DC. With the Turkish Embassy, DCIFF will present the world premiere of Leave the Door Open, a documentary telling the story of how, in the 1930s, two brothers from the then-new nation of Turkey helped to preserve Washington, DC’s nascent jazz community from segregation and prejudice, and then founded Atlantic Records.  

Keeper of the Fire presents the life and work of poet-activist Alejandro Murguia and his fight for social justice. Following the 6:30pm March 31st screening, Alejandro, San Francisco’s poet laureate, will join virtually from his home for a discussion with local poets. On April 8th, the festival closes with the refreshing comedy Juliet Must Die, concurrently screened in DC and Detroit (DC Meets CD) and linking the two audiences with the director, who was unable to leave his native Germany due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The Bears on Pine Ridge documentary screening on April 6th has members of the Oglala Sioux tribe attending at Arlington Drafthouse, VA. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota declared a State of Emergency when youth suicide rates reached the highest levels in the country. In the film, a respected female elder leads the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s only suicide prevention team, while mentoring a group of suicide-survivor teenagers to find their voice, encouraging them to bring hope and awareness to the reservation.

Throughout the festival, DCIFF will present an array of seminars, discussions, and masterclasses, conducted with an eye toward expanding understanding of the increasingly essential media literacy tools of how the moving image is constructed. Topics include: 10 horror filmmakng tricks, documentary responsibilites to its subjects and creating comedy.

DCIFF in 2021 will look nothing like it did in 2020, but by becoming a forum for conversation rather than just a festival for exhibition, it adapts to change along with the independent film it supports and promotes.

Contact: Maria Datch, 202-244-8663, [email protected]

Media Contact
Company Name: DC Independent Film Festival
Contact Person: Mara Datch
Email: Send Email
City: Washington
State: DC
Country: United States
Website: www.dciff-indie.org

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