Our reviewer in… on why independent film festivals are still important


As regular readers will know, ‘Our reviewer in…’ Maysa Moncao slams the film festival junket on your behalf, season in and season out, to selflessly give you a glimpse of the best international independent cinema has to offer.

In September she will be off to Toronto to update you on the hottest of indie film, as well as providing unique insights into modern filmmaking and interviews with top movie talent.

But this doesn’t come cheap. A flight to Toronto can cost enough to financially cripple any talented, freelance reviewer.

So I’m putting my money where my mouth is and stumping up the first 50 quid to get our reviewer the other side of the pond.

My promise? To update you all with the utmost immediacy about what she sees, what she thinks and why you should see the films she has pounded the screens to watch.

Are you with me? Yes, but think it’s too much too much to support this worthy cause?

I’ve calculated that if all of you give just £5, it’ll be enough to ensure you get the most verbose and insightful (and hot of the press) low-down of the next year’s cinema schedule, and your ultimate film viewing schedule.

Not much, considering the quality of comment of obvious passion for cinema given in return.

Keep yourself ahead of the cinematic game by donating here.

So you are knackered and on your sofa on a Saturday evening having as a roomie your aggressive-red-catlandlady’s cat. And all you want to do is catch a good movie before starting to snore.

So, you go to mubi.com and roll the list of features available for free in your region. The next thing you remember is the cat ruining your underwear because, well, you fell asleep in the wrong territory.

And also you didn’t notice when you stopped paying attention to the movie.

There is nothing wrong in watching movies on your computer or mobile, but you will probably miss a lot of the “maximum experience”.

When you get out of your comfy sofa and decide to enter the dark room of a movie theatre, you are deliberatly giving license to the filmmaker to drive you where he wants.

Even if you miss the opening credits because you were trying to find a seat and let half of Popcorn spillthe big pop corn bucket fall into the stockings of a gorgeous chick (or maybe a trans, it is a dark room!), then you are likely to have missed important info to follow the plot.

A movie is a game between the audience and the filmmaker. He certainly has high expectations on you. He bets you are clever and curious.

There is nothing more anti-cleverness and anti-curiosity or anti-climax than the combination of sofa + cat + a hard working week. Please, watch a cartoon instead, or a sitcom. You do not need to solve any puzzle and you are allowed to get a nap.

Ok, are you now getting me? Yeah?! So here I launch an unsuspected argument: we all need independent film festivals.

Imagine you choose not to spend £5 on a pint and have instead bought a ticket for a movie you know nothing about. Let’s take for instance one of these 3 options:

  1. Ghabi: a Lebanese movie that East End Film Festival shown last Monday at the Barbican
  2. Frank: a surrealistic journey to loss, by Richard Heslop, shown at Raindance a couple of years ago
  3. Trash: Stephan Daldry’s film set in Brazil, shown at Rome Independent Film Festival

What are the pro’s of your choice? Well above all else you wouldn’t be tempted to get that second beer and be a pain in the ass now away from your roomie cat (which would not be able complain about your account on your lonely life in London).

But most important, you now have the chance to get into unexplored zones:

  1. How family, religion and sickness in Lebanon could be revealed as a light solution for living in harmony in your community.
  2. You can have a chat after the movie with Richard Heslop, that awesome bald artist who produced all creative videoclips for The Smiths and New Order.
  3. You will find out how the recycled rubbish in Brazil is a permanent concern and how it became an important source of income for homeless people.

Isn’t that great?

For me, independent film festivals are a crucial meeting point for creative people. They are usually the sort who far from being invited to “a red carpet”, but they will share with you some experiences on how it is to follow your dream and make a movie against all odds.

Some independent film festivals can turn a small movie theatre into a lab for ideas and projects. Usually, on the following editions, those film festivals gradually conquer more “luxurious and central venues”. And the outcome is a mixed audience of men in suit arriving in their bikes and Christian social workers with connections with a NGO in Kenya. It is a new tribe, a sincretic group that speak the same language: their love for movies.

Maysa Moncao


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