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Uta Arning

JÖNKÖPING, Sweden. Filmmaker, Lecturer. Jönköping University Lecture Hall.

What’s a common misconception/myth about independent film?
A common misconception/myth regarding independent films is that many people believe they are badly made as there are no big studios or production entities behind them and they are not entertaining. I think film festivals play a big part in being able to change this misconception by showing that independent films can compete with big studio productions.

What do you love most about going to film festivals?
The ability to travel to unknown places, through the stories that are being shown. Many of those works would never be screened in regular cinemas. There is just something magical in the air.

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David Gutierrez

LOS ANGELES. Filmmaker. Egyptian Cinema.

As a filmmaker, what does it mean for your film to be shown at foreign film festivals?
As a filmmaker just starting out in the industry, to know that my work will be seen in other parts of the world would be an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much from watching independent/foreign films and attending festivals, that to actually become a part of it would be quite surreal — in the best sense of the word.

We all live in this one planet, and to actually affect it in regions throughout, in places one hasn’t even dreamed of, well, there’s something very spiritual about that. It’s that human link that bonds us all.

How do you decide which films to watch?
A wise friend, and a better equipped festival-goer than myself, once told me to catch anything that I know would have a hard time finding distribution because chances are I will probably not have the opportunity to watch that film again. I like to think that I’ve stuck by that suggestion and have discovered countless movies that I never would have given a chance before because of it, movies that have shaped me as a filmmaker and even as a human being.

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Nora Circosta

BERLIN. Fundraising Manager. Kant Kino.

Why do you watch independent films?
I like to watch independent films because they treat controversial topics, cultural differences and alternative lifestyles that mainstream movies mostly don’t.

How do you decide which films to watch?
If I find a topic interesting and the description convincing, I go. But sometimes at the ticket counter I’m told that the film is sold out, and I have to pick another one—which can be a great surprise!

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Jackson Tan

SINGAPORE. Artist, Designer, Curator. The Projector.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?
The festival was a chance for us to catch a diverse and eclectic mix of international, local and anime films. It brought the world of film to us, films that we would read in foreign magazines but never screened in local cinemas.

I remember buying a whole bunch of tickets with friends and running between cinemas to catch a retrospective of Ed Wood’s B movies, Japanese anime, an Iranian social film, Taiwanese art house, Godard’s Alphaville, all within the same festival!

About Golden Cinema
I used to live around the Beach Road area when I was a kid. My family were avid cinema goers, especially my late paternal Grandma. Grandma brought me to the former Golden Cinema to watch many movies. It was the golden era of Chinese films, we caught movies from Taiwanese tearjerkers starring Brigette Lin and Chin Han, to Jet Li’s Shaolin Temple and Hong Kong comedies such as Aces Go Places.

My personal favorite was the Chinese animated feature Havoc in Heaven (based on the Chinese classic, Journey to the West) by the Wan Brothers. An amazing film filled with wonderful animation and character designs that was even better than Disney films. The Monkey King was my favorite character and hero till today, and has inspired many of PHUNK’s artworks. I also remember going to the stores downstairs to buy the comic book at the book shop as well as the movie soundtrack cassette tape from the record store. The Golden Mile Complex was filled with many stores selling books, records, tidbits and toys at that time.

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Jin Li Lim

LONDON. Writer/PhD Student in History. Regent Street Cinema, the birthplace of British cinema.

What’s a common misconception/myth about an independent film?
Sometimes people seem to think that a film not produced by one of the major studios, and consequently with a smaller budget, is limited in the way it can tell a story. That is not always true, and even if it were true, it doesn’t follow that the film is poorer for it.

What’s the best conversation you’ve had about an independent film?
A ‘best conversation’ is very relative, but the most memorable one was about Joyeux Noel (2005). I suppose the subject matter (the Christmas truce in the trenches during World War I, December 1914) was itself very poignant, but the film provoked a serious conversation about basic humanity and decency, the arbitrariness of war, and on how historical memory (if not, consciousness) is preserved and communicated through film.

Dior and I (2014) was also a very fascinating insight into how modern haute couture has to navigate creative processes even while functioning as a business, and that was also fodder for a lengthy discussion of whether couture in fashion has contemporary relevance (which it does), and whether it should be more recognised as an art form.

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Albert Chiang & Victoria Vu

PASADENA, California. Musician, Graphic Designer. Laemmle Theatre.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?
Festivals are great because everyone in attendance has a genuine love for film. There is an excitement about each screening that is different than just seeing the latest blockbuster at the multiplex.

Who are the favourite people you attend a film festival with, and why?
I love seeing independent film with people who make art. The end of every film always becomes a passionate discussion about narrative, form, color, shape, and everything in between.

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Christopher Gozum

BAYAMBANG, Philippines. Filmmaker. Bayambang Cinema.

About Bayambang Cinema
This was Bayambang’s one and only—and oldest—cinema, now converted into a grocery store. In the early 80’s, my father brought me to this cinema to watch a Filipino action fantasy film. It was my very first time entering a cinema, and the whole experience scared me. I was six years old.

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Joshua Thompson

SAN LUIS OBISPO, California. Community Organizer. Palm Theatre.

Why do you watch independent films?
To support the artists. To learn. To relate. To see how people think and create art that imitates life.