What cities do you think of when you think of independent films? Park City, Utah? You bet. New York City? Of course. Washington, DC? You didn’t read wrong. For 11 days in March, Washington, DC is home to The Washington DC Independent Film Festival (DCIFF) and it has been for the past six years. Each year, the DCIFF features “world premiere films, award winning features, shorts, animations, and documentaries.”
As with most film festivals, the DCIFF bestows various honors on its most outstanding films each year. They award films in each category they screen throughout the festival (feature, animation, short, and documentary). These awards include the Grand Jury Award, the Audience Award, the Visionary Award (which is “presented to a film of social or political importance that can provoke change”), the Washington, DC Filmmaker Award (“presented to [a] DC filmmaker for outstanding creative achievement”), the Cine Latino Award (awarded to the best Latin film), and the World Cinema Award, which will be presented this year to the most outstanding film from South Asia. Grand Jury Prize winners receive the DC Production Grant, which gives the Grand Jury Winners monetary and promotional support.
Founded by Carol Bidault in 1999, the festival first appeared on the scene in March of 2000 calling itself, “DCDANCE” as a nod to the world renouned Sundance Film Festival. In its first year, it lasted only three days, but featured 30 films, including the premiere of director Barry Levinson’s (Liberty Heights, Sleepers) documentary, Original Diner Guys. That same year, the DC Independent Film Market and Trade Show was founded. It now coincides with DCIFF and provides DC filmmakers the opportunity to meet with industry professionals, such as buyers, distributors, and agents. This is a unique opportunity because it is the only film trade show of its kind in the DC area. The next year, the festival changed its name to the name its stayed with, The Washington DC Independent Film Festival. Over the next few years, the festival gradually expanded, and garnered praise from local film critics like Stephen Hunter.
This year is shaping up to be DCIFF’s best year yet, featuring more than 50 films. Features being screened this year include: I Love Your Work (directed by Adam Goldberg and starring Giovanni Ribisi and Christina Ricci), Insomnia Manica (Grand Jury Prize Winner, Best Feature at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival), How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, My Suicidal Sweetheart (starring the ever crazy Natasha Lyonne, Tim Blake Nelson, Lorraine Bracco, and Rosanna Arquette), My Tiny Universe (screening on opening night, March 2nd), Lie With Me, The Garage, and Death and Texas.
Documentaries being screened this year include: All in a Mardi Gras Day, God Sleeps in Rwanda, An Impession: Dischord Records, Kill Gil (Vol. 1), The Unwinking Gaze ‚Äì In the Footsteps of the XIV Dalai Lama, and The Washington Bureau.
Some Animation features showing are: The Awakening (Episode 1), Eighteen Fifty One (1851), Emelia – The 5-Year-Old Goth Girl, She She She She’s A Bombshell, Sweet Dreams.
Last, but certainly not least, Shorts playing this year include: All Souls Day, Battle Chess, Beyond Babylon, Gone Postal, Nothing Girl, A Psycho Scene, Pumpkin Zombies, Rules of Love, Suicide for Two, The Way of the Gnome, and Wentworth.
The entire list of films being screened this year can be found here.
Aside from film screenings, DCIFF also offers seminars and special events for filmmakers and filmgoers alike. This year’s seminars include: International Roundtable (Mar. 3), Advocacy Forum (“Panelists discuss current issues facing independent and visual media artists, writing for film and visual media.”) (Mar. 4), The Role of Screenplay in Fiction and Non-Fiction Works (Mar. 4), Directing Feature and Documentary Film & Video (Mar. 4), and Meet the DCIFF Filmmakers (Mar. 5). The entire seminar schedule can be found here.
Special events and Opening/Closing Nights include: Opening Night, March 2, at 7 p.m: My Tiny Universe, She‚Äôs, She‚Äôs, She‚Äôs a Bombshell (animation) and Washington Bureau (documentary) (all of opening night’s films are offerings from DC filmmakers); Oscar Night Live, Sunday, March 5th; Benefit for the New Orleans Film Festival, Thursday March 9th, 7 p.m.; Pre-kick off of the Washington, DC Independent Music Festival (launching 2007) Sunday, March 12; Closing Night, Sunday March 12, 7 p.m.: Charlie‚Äôs Party. Charlie’s Party is “from the filmmakers that brought you the award winning Station Agent and Wentworth.” Closing Night will also include a surprise presentation of this year‚Äôs Sundance‚Äôs Jury Prize winning films (they’re not telling, you’ve gotta show up to find out). A comprehensive special events listing can be found here.
Convinced that you have to go to The Washington DC Independent Film Festival yet? We thought so. The DCIFF has a little something for everyone, the partygoer, the film aficionado, the filmmaker, the dreamer, and the critic. The only thing you have to worry about now is what you’re going to see. You better get your tickets fast, March 2nd is just around the corner. You don’t want to miss it.