Sunday, January 8, 2012

From the Director

Exciting things are underway in our second season. The Freethought Film Festival Foundation is at the forefront of the secular movement in introducing the general public to freethought ideals. From July 31st through August 5th, 2012, in Denver, Colorado, FFFF will host not only the second annual International Freethought Film Festival, to include indie film screenings, Q&As and parties, but a major charity event as well! There are multiple opportunities for organizations, businesses and individuals to play a supporting role in our efforts this season. What you may not know, is that FFFF is also here to lend support to secular clubs & groups who are interested in promoting reason through film in their own communities. We are continually scouting for new films that reflect our mission statement, and the list of freethought programming content to share with others keeps growing.

In October, I represented FFFF at our information table at the Texas Freethought/Atheist Alliance of America Convention, where the convention organizers added to their program a "mini film festival". They showed back to back films in one of the convention rooms that sat approximately 30 people. All nine of the films that they screened were full-length feature films. Six out of those nine films were official selections at IFFF. (We screened seven features, and the only reason that the convention did not include all seven in their program, was that one of the directors did not reply to them to grant screening permission.) That weekend, attendees approached our table asking what was being screened, because they assumed that we were the ones putting on the mini-film festival. I explained to them that we weren't affiliated with it, but before pointed to the convention information table where they could get a schedule, I introduced to them our mission. After the introduction, not only were people excited about our efforts, but at least a half dozen filmmakers came up to me later to tell me that they were inspired create a film to submit to IFFF!

Community group leaders regularly reach out to me and express interest in presenting films that were screened at our first event back in May, 2011. I tell them that we are happy to help with content, promoting and advice on how to execute such an event; and I explain our stipulations for FFFF to extend such support. Here are they are:

1. The event must be held in a public theater venue, in a non-academic environment. Not on a school campus. No library meeting rooms. No hotel conference rooms. Why not the afforementioned? Boring. Boring. Boring.

2. The event must be free to the public. There are a few reasons for this requirement. One reason is the logistics of screening permissions. Another is to make attending the screenings as attractive to the general public as possible. Free = Average person thinking, "Even though this sounds super interesting, I wouldn't attend if I had to pay an admission, but since it's free...why the hell not?". Yet another reason is to challenge groups to make their presence known by giving something to their community...the gift of educating the public by exercising their own mission statements using a medium attractive to a general audience.

3. A one day event is most reasonable for a community group to organize. (This one is really a strong suggestion.) The Freethought Film Festival Foundation's concentration is promoting reason through film. The focus of freethought/secular community groups/clubs is to promote reason in general; and a small film festival is a great way to do this without committing to hosting a major, annual event like IFFF.

Following these requirements maximizes the chance for a good turnout to a community group hosted film festival. The residual benefits will mostly be non-tangible things, like, understanding, encouraging dialogue (resulting in even more understanding), creating an environment for camaraderie, inspiration and diluting ignorance. While presenting a free event, which costs more than sending an email alert and creating a Facebook Page, may not grow the treasury of a freethought community group, it will help advance reason overall. FFFF wants to help, because the big picture is important to us. We want to work with those who can see it.

Andrea Steele
Executive Director
Freethought Film Festival Foundation

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