How You Should Be Thinking About Film Festivals: Interview with CIFF Head Programmer Ben Fowlie
Film festival programmers — those enigmatic figures in a dark screening room who decide the fate of so many films with one push of the eject button. Ever wonder who they are, and how they decide what films to program? Ben Fowlie, the Executive Director and Head Programmer of Camden International Film Festival was cool enough to sit down with NFS over Skype and give us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of his film festival. Continue on to check out our video interview.
For the past ten years, Ben Fowlie has been building Camden International Film Festival from the ground up. Today, along with its Points North forum, it is considered one of the top 25 best doc film festivals in the world! Ben spoke with us about everything from the art of programming features versus shorts, to the cutting edge trends in experimental doc filmmaking. Listen to what he has to say about being the managing force behind a top film festival:
One interesting thing Ben points out about programming is that it’s not simply about pulling the best 30 feature films off the pile. If you’re wondering what festivals your film might get in to, remember it’s about creating a cohesive theme, where films have something in common that creates a through-line for that film festival goer. Knowing what festivals cater to what audiences is key. Here’s a look at what Camden International Film Festival feels like to their audience:
I asked Ben to name a few documentaries that he thinks are pretty great but we might not have heard about. So here’s a shortlist, plus a few he mentioned in the interview, for our very own curated No Film School program of interesting trailers:
Expedition to the End of the World – Because Ben is fascinated by the work coming out of Denmark right now.
Caucus — AJ Schnack’s latest film with phenomenal access to the 2012 GOP primary race.
Pablo’s Winter – Because the Scottish Documentary Institute is always coming out with cool, new things.
Public Hearing – All black & white 16mm close-ups of a script taken entirely from an audio transcript of a town hall meeting.
Do you have behind-the-scenes experience at a film festival? What festival have you been to as an audience member where you were impressed by the cumulative curation?
- Camden International Film Festival
- Camden International Film Festival 2013 - This Thing Is a Movement — Hammer to Nail
- Straight Baller Fests: The Definitive Unscientific List of Film Festivals That Cover Your Flight & Hotel
- 'Film Festivals vs. The Web' - a Student Academy Award Winner's Perspective
- Film Festival Costs Got You Down? Find the Free Ones on the 'No Entry Fee Festivals' Blog