Anatomy of a film festival

Anatomy of a film festival

A film festival is NOT an invite only event. It is not ONLY for the avid film- goer. It provides moving pictures that narrate topics, stories, and ideas that we all can understand.



Film is a special thing that has touched every single person in one manner or another. Whether it is a first date, a childhood memory, or watching that classic for the 100th time, we are all affected by what we see on the big screen. It provides the ability to be transformed, educated, or simply entertained, all while sitting in a dark room full of strangers. You can commiserate without saying a word. You can share nothing in common with the person sitting next to you, but walk out of a theater knowing you were just part of something unique. This is what a film festival yearns to achieve. We share something new with the world hoping to create a new appreciation for the purveyors of independent cinema.


How are the films chosen? 

While it usually doesn’t cross your mind to investigate where it was made, what the budget was, or who the director might be, these are all relative questions when talking about a film festival. Much like a juried art exhibition, filmmakers submit their work for review and only the accepted films are showcased during a festival. A group of film enthusiasts from the community come together to review the films and come to a consensus on programming. Upwards of 250 films are reviewed, which is no small task. Larger festivals will have thousands of submissions. In order to prevent monotony and disillusion, film review sessions are staggered throughout the year. Factors affecting the decision range from technical success, captivating subject matter, and audience appeal.


What kind of monetary commitment is necessary to attend a film festival?

The wonderful thing is that your financial obligation can be as much or as little as you desire. In many larger festivals, such as Sundance, you can be lucky enough to know people who have an industry pass OR you can fork over thousands of dollars to attend fancy parties, rub elbows with celebrities, and see some amazing films. Here in Paducah we are a bit more modest in our endeavors. A weekend pass, which gives you the option of possibly seeing 50+ films, is only $50. That is one dollar per film. Granted some are shorts and some are feature length, but no matter, you are absolutely getting a wealth of cinema glory for your investment. PLUS, your weekend pass purchase gains you access to the festival’s super swanky party held in an exclusive location on the Saturday of the festival. All the jurors, filmmakers, and pass holders will be there.


How do I decide what I want to see?

To make your experience more fruitful, a festival program is always available. This will give you important information needed to choose the block of films that are right for you. A short synopsis is always helpful along with all the times the film will be highlighted and in what location. Programs for perusal will be available starting in October.


Why is a film festival different from mainstream movies?

Filmmakers submit their films in the hopes that the product for which they have sacrificed years of their life, much of their savings and most likely a social life, will be accepted. And it is all to create something in which they truly believe. The highest honor for their work is to eventually be distributed, but first they must find an audience and that is what a film festival offers. The whole idea came from the lack of format for independent film. The existence of an entire world of filmmakers that don’t have million dollar budgets is overlooked at times, and a film festival gives that demographic a stage. The goal is simple. Get your product seen. Some may have an important message and some are purely for entertainment, but if an audience exists there is a reason to create.


Landee’s Challenge

“My challenge to readers: choose at least one block of films that peaks your interest ($5.00 value). Visit REIF from November 1-4, and if you can’t find any redeeming qualities that derive from your visit, we’ll give you a free pass to Maiden Alley Cinema!” 





Join the discussion