Preparing for the Hyart Film Festival

Sifting through some 300 entries to the Hyart Film Festival is not easy, or quick, but somebody’s got to do it.

And despite coming across some films that aren’t worth watching past the first few minutes, festival organizer Jason Zeller said he’s happy to sift through the vast field of entries to ensure the films that do make the cut are top quality.

The quality of the film festival will be visible at the Winners Showcase Thursday, July 14, at 7 p.m., at the Hyart Theatre. The top films from the 2010 Hyart Film Festival (one per each of the six categories plus people’s choice) will be shown free at the Hyart.

Included will be “No Song in Autumn,” “Liam and Ben,” “Sneeze Me Away,” “Unfair,” “Cockpit,” “Exhibition Report” and “The Desperate.”

Zeller said he has been in contact with the filmmakers from the 2010 Hyart fest, and said many have enjoyed success at other film festivals other than the Hyart. The seven films awarded at the Hyart Film Festival have collectively won an additional 65 awards at film festivals worldwide. The Hyart People’s Choice Award, “The Desperate,” has won the most awards of any other film at the 2010 fest, Zeller said. About three of the filmmakers are in talks with studios to produce full-length versions of their short films or otherwise produce their films, he said.

“It’s good to see that half of the films we selected as winners are moving on to bigger and better things,” Zeller said. “Some people didn’t know what a film festival was when we started one in Lovell. This shows what a film festival can do for a film.”

Zeller noted that independent films with more notoriety and awards probably have a better chance of making it into the larger festivals, like Sundance, and winning at the Hyart could serve as a steppingstone to success for filmmakers. For others, winning an award might give them the encouragement they need to continue with their craft, or start a new project.

For Zeller, visiting a film festival in New York in 2009 and winning best animation inspired him to create a film fest of his own, the Hyart festival.

2011 festival almost here

Zeller said of the 300-plus entries he and the selection committee have been considering, only a small percentage have made the cut for the August festival. He said the festival would contain 45 to 50 films this year, similar to in 2010. However, the committee received almost triple the number of entries this year compared to last, Zeller said, with 114 received last year and about 300 this year. This week Zeller and the selection committee were making their final picks and planned to inform filmmakers about their acceptance status in the near future.

A new category, horror, has been added to the 2011 lineup. Zeller said the Hyart Film Fest was the first organization to show interest when they accepted “An Evening with my Comatose Mother,” and the film has since received several awards from other festivals. Having already watched the PG13 horror flick, Zeller said he is excited to see the crowd’s reaction.

“It’s creepy,” he said.

Other categories, which will remain the same as in 2010, are packed with quality films, too, he said.

“I’m glad I entered my own animation last year,” Zeller said, calling this year’s animation entries “amazing.”

He plans to offer a film school for anyone who would like to learn about specific things that would cause a film to be rejected for the Hyart or other film festivals, he said.

“If I see the boom mic, you’re not going to be accepted, for example,” Zeller said. “If your film really is that good, get rid of the boom mic.”

Volunteers are needed to help out with concessions and other aspects of the festival, Zeller said.

Festival organizers are working to break the films into categories to be shown in blocks. He said the horror block will likely be on Friday night, with other blocks for children and film nour detective movies.

By Brad Devereaux

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