Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More Than a Festival

April 10, 2012

By Andrea Steele

Freethought Film Festival Foundation was established in the spring of 2009, with the primary focus of hosting the annual International Freethought Film Festival in a different city each year. As a 501( c)(3) nonprofit, educational organization that promotes reason, critical thinking and freedom of inquiry through the medium of film, it has grown—and continues to grow—to be much more than a just a film festival. The work of the Freethought Film Festival Foundation is helping to advance the freethought movement by reaching a more general audience; and it is a resource for those who are looking for something to compliment traditional ways of promoting freethought ideas.

The organization has since presented freethought films at several international and national conferences, facilitated screenings for community groups, and has advised the San Francisco Atheist Film Festival, Portland Humanist Film Festival and others who have expressed interest in hosting similar film festival events in their local communities. Upcoming presentations include two nights of film screenings at the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Lake Hypatia Advance, on Independence Day weekend; and a freethought shorts marathon at the Atheist Alliance of America, “Ascent of Atheism” conference on Labor Day weekend 2012. These efforts are in addition to all of the work that goes into executing the annual International Freethought Film Festival. This year, the Freethought Film Festival Foundation is hosting a freethought celebrity poker tournament and casino night benefit, as a part of the IFFF 2012 festivities in Denver, Colorado on July 31st. The proceeds for this event will go to the nonprofit charity organization, Foundation Beyond Belief; and with its success, will be held in conjunction with the film festival each year.

With the goal of having a fully functional film production branch of the Freethought Film Festival Foundation by 2015, the organization has appointed filmmaker, Kelli Cooke, as director of production development. She is the producer and director of the film, Godless, which was a world premiere at the inaugural International Freethought Film Festival at the Tampa Theatre in May of 2011. Kelli’s experience and professional network in the film industry and freethought movement will help propel the organization toward its goals. Collaboration on the first film under the FFFF production arm has already begun; although the subject of the film is being kept under wraps. A screenwriting category is anticipated for IFFF 2013, where submitters will compete for the chance to have their work produced. Editing and graphic design tools have recently been donated to the Freethought Film Festival Foundation to assist with this objective. They are moving forward with underwriting efforts, and are offering donors the opportunity to earmark their contributions to go toward future film projects.

The tagline for the FFFF production branch is: “...where artistic and rationalistic are not mutually exclusive.”. The organization aims to serve as a reminder that the human experience is a mish-mash of emotion, creativity and discovery. They recognize that narrative films, which draw viewers into the humanity of a fictitious story and characters’ experiences are as important as documentaries. When they pre-screen film submissions for consideration in the film festival program, this is at the forefront of their selection process, alongside of seeking films that best reflect the mission statement of FFFF. This will also be reflected in films that the organization produces.