A year ago on the SPF message board, I wrote that I didn't think that the then-current (2006) batch of i48 films were very good. Certainly, there were a number of quality short films, but for the most part, I felt that the bar hadn't been raised; it had been lowered to a significant degree. All of this came from a conversation about how I felt about my film Greasepaint being left out of the "Best Of 2006" showing. Granted, our film was turned in late, and I was told at one time that - because it was late - said film wasn't eligible for being in the "Best Of 2006" screening.
I was fine with that, until I went to the screening and saw other films that had been dq'd for lateness playing there. That was when my ire went up a bit, and I asked a few more... pointed questions. Ultimately, it came down to, "Will, you have a naked chick in the trunk of a car."
Okay, fine. I understand being punished for pushing the line of the competition, but the reality is - and you can go back and look at the film for yourself - there was nothing in my film that broke the rules of the competition. And so, in 2006, because of a perceived fear of how the audience might react to a naked chick in the trunk of a car, the "Best Of..." showing did not, in fact, have one of that year's best movies in it.
Move to 2007. Yet again the "Best Of..." showing proved to lack integrity, by presenting a number of films that were significantly inferior to others as the, "Best Of 2007." Setting my film aside, I find it infuriating that an event promoted as a "competition" would go so far as to not have transparency in its judging, thereby creating a metaphorical "crap shoot" to see what are considered the "Best Of..." films of 2007. Anyone who made a quality short film this year and was blatantly snubbed by the i48 competition judges and/or managers in favor of sub-standard filmmaking should be upset and confused.
Of course, there's the question of taste now, isn't there. Imagine my utter disbelief when I'm watching the i48 2007 documentary, Love For Sale. While the subject being interviewed was interesting enough, the film merely consisted of a well-edited opening sequence, followed by two extended static shots of a man being interviewed. Now, all cinematic quality aside, as a documentary Love For Sale wasn't near the film that Lost In Boise ended up being, and - lo and behold - guess what? Lost In Boise won 2nd best film of the competition, while Love For Sale garnered nothing - yet both are showing in the, "Best of..." section. Interesting. But what was more interesting is that, while I was castigated for showing a naked - yet judiciously covered - woman in the previous year's competition, the interviewed subject in Love For Sale commenced to discuss: prostitution, pimps, his being, "horny", a woman he describes as only wanting to have sex with him (also described as having, "44- D breasts"), "getting laid", etc.
No one walked out of my film in 2006; this year, a woman took her child by the hand and left the theater during the 4.30 showing of Love For Sale.
And yet this film, with its questionable material and raw, basic filmmaking techniques, is considered (by the judges? The competition directors? We'll never know...) to be... what, exactly? I'm not certain, but what they are saying to the community and to the filmmakers that support this competition is this:
"Films that were NOT better than this film are NOT in the 'Best Of...' showing."
Otherwise, why call it a, "Best of..." at all?
This year i48 was a success, of that I'm certain. I also believe that the general crop of films turned in were significantly better than last year's films. I also believe that the Open Category films which won their respective awards deserved them (although I question giving the, "best sound" award to a music video where the lyrics aren't understandable because of the sound mix, but whatever...). I was pleased that the best film of the competition - as was the case in the previous two years - was, in fact, recognized as the, "best film"; as was the second best film. My commentary isn't about awards; I find that - with a few exceptions - the awards go to the films which deserve them.
But I do have a problem when someone sets two films side-by-side and not only recognizes the inferior product as, "superior", but rewards it as well by publicly endorsing it as being "superior".
It is an insult to the makers of quality films.
The managers and judges of i48 can rectify this situation; all they have to do is acknowledge quality in their, "Best of..." showings, without throwing bread to the masses to quell their shouts. But until they do so, it's my belief that this so-called "competition" is anything but a competition, and until the judging process is transparent and the judges are revealed, the integrity of i48 can be considered highly suspect.
Real Filmmakers. No Tourists.