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Ismail Basbeth

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia. Creative Director/Filmmaker/Programmer. Societeit Hall, Taman Budaya Yogyakarta.

As a filmmaker, what does it mean for your film to be shown at foreign film festivals?
Being an independent filmmaker in Indonesia means you have very limited screens to show your film. If you want to screen in the main theaters, you need to work for–or together with–the big studios, but not everyone can; not everyone wants to.

To be selected for a foreign film festival means we can show our films in its best format. It helps highlight the film and the filmmaker, and help us connect with wider audiences.

What’s the most interesting thing you learnt from a Q&A session?
The diversity of making films; we learn that there is diversity in films and its audiences, meaning we as human beings are so diverse. We must explore even more.

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Brittany Glaser

NEW YORK. Lawyer. The Angelika.

What’s a common misconception/myth about independent film that you yourself experienced, or would like to correct?
I think a common misconception about independent films is that they will be too “artsy” and hence not entertaining to the average person. But, the thing is, indie films are rarely something as abstract as say Andy Warhol filming the Empire State Building for 4 hours–that was performance art on his part. Indie films, in fact, are often very heartfelt, relatable, and entertaining in ways that even big budget movies are unable to do effectively.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?
There’s something unique and special about watching an indie film with a group of likeminded people. You know that if these strangers were moved by a certain film that you were moved by, then you automatically feel like you can understand one another on a very intimate level without having even spoken a word.

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Rayson Esquejo

LOS ANGELES. Director of Social Media. Regency Bruin Theater.

Why do you watch independent films?
I watch independent films because the stories are more real than an action blockbuster with explosions and million dollar special effects.

What’s special about watching films at a film festival?
What I love most about festivals is meeting the directors at the afterparties, having conversations with them like normal people. Talking about their craft and the passion behind it really give you an appreciation for both the craft and the film, one that you would not get from just seeing the end product.

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Nina Rodriguez

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico. Programmer. Teatro Juarez, Guanajuato.

Have you had the chance to meet a director at a film festival or Q&A session? What left an impression?
The fantastic thing about festivals is that you will learn more about the passion behind a certain film, the vision and thoughts it originated from, its literal raison d’etre — stories you will likely hear or engage in at a Q&A.

Many masterpieces are all just made by normal people that love to share their work, thoughts and passion with you. That excites me over and over again.

What’s special about watching films at a film festival?
During one of the first film festivals I volunteered for, I remember we got free tickets for everything, so after my shifts I got to watch a lot of different stuff, and I don’t remember a single film that wouldn’t have seemed like it completely changed my life right there: guerilla filmmaking from Bolivia, the poetics of Dutch fishermen, Argentinean workers taking control over their closed factories, really funny mockumentaries, it was all happening right around the corner of my home. During that same year, two of my alltime favourite film making heroes, Werner Herzog and Fernando Solanas, were actually in attendance and I simply couldn’t believe that was happening, that they were talking there naturally with just anyone in the audience. Herzog was actually presenting the first digital film or something of the like, so even the technical revolution was taking place right there, and one could just be part of it and talk about it with him.

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Brendan McCreary

BELLINGHAM, Washington. Musician/Producer/Performer. Limelight Cinema.

Why do you watch independent films?
As an independent artist myself, I know from experience how hard making art can be, especially without a budget. When there is no budget, or a very small one, you have to make do with what you have. If you have a “go-pro” and a free set for one afternoon, that’s what you’ve got and you’ve got to make it work.

As limiting as this is, this can be very rewarding. Rather than seeing these things as limitations, I frequently view them as Lego bricks. Here are the Legos you have to play with; yes, the rich kid down the street has 1000 of them in different colors, but you’ve got these ones, in these 3 colors. Make some art.

Every now and again something great can come from this: little gems that slip by sometimes unnoticed, sometimes to great accolade. That is what makes indie cinema so powerful.

What’s the best conversation you’ve had about an independent film?
That would be with my buddy Ryan Covington (who also happens to be a Nicholls Fellowship finalist this year) with regards to Ex Machina. A film which he adored, and a film which baffled me. Ordinarily these conversations become iconoclastic duels, and we just end up arguing and shouting and shit-talking one another and nothing gets done. But this conversation really helped me understand and work through my difficulties with the film for the better.

About Limelight Cinema
This is the Limelight cinema in my hometown of Bellingham, Washington. Formerly known as the Pickford. It’s a one-room 50-seat theatre. When Princess Mononoke came to town, I watched it seven days in a row (the length of its run). Good memories here.

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Jerry Leu

SINGAPORE. Creative Head, Visual Media at Marina Bay Sands. Expression Gallery, ArtScience Museum.

As a filmmaker, what does it mean for your film to be shown at foreign film festivals?
One of the best moments I’ve had was when a film that I worked on as a producer premiered here in Singapore. It was extremely well received, but the best part was how diverse the audience was.

We would get completely different responses from Singaporeans, Americans, the French, etc. It’s definitely an experience you can only get when your film gets accepted into foreign festivals.

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Suran Kularatna

LONDON. Big Data Platform Engineer. Ritzy Cinema.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?
What’s special about film festivals is the personal experience you have watching a film with the director, finding out their thought process, being able to get deep into their psyche about what inspired them to make the movie.

What’s a common misconception/myth about independent film?
In my opinion, the most common misconception is that the movies are low budget and therefore may not be as good as big blockbuster productions. This is far from reality as some independent films have private funding that can rival that of a major movie studio. Therefore, just because it doesn’t have a big studio name behind it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a flop. There are plenty of big budget Hollywood movies that are failures.