Did you know that a movie or a short film is made somewhere around the world every four seconds? For the casual film lover looking for a quality movie-going experience, and even for the professional film writer who sees upwards of 150 new releases a year, that statistic can be disheartening. Is the tiny fraction of the world’s films we actually get to see really the cream of the crop? Surely there must be better films out there that just can’t find distribution, right?
Big-budget Hollywood event films have lost their luster (see: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), and the most well-written, subversive, innovative independent films only appear at a select few of the world’s film festivals, likely to never enjoy wide distribution. How are we ever supposed to wade through it all to find the diamonds in the rough? Not everyone can just hop on a plane to catch Sundance, Cannes, Telluride, Austin or Toronto. Luckily, prominent producer/director Rick Stevenson and his team of industry professionals are up to the task of doing the dirty work for us.
The Official Best of Fest is a cutting edge organization that employs an army of curators who attend the world’s top film festivals on the lookout for the best of the best undistributed shorts and features. These films are compiled into DVD box sets according to genre and offered for sale to the general public.
Among the curators are Geralyn Dreyfous, the Founder/Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Film Center; Ted Hope, famed indie film producer; Paula Silver, a member of the Foreign Selection committee for the Academy Awards; Nicole Guillemet, former co-director of the Sundance Film Festival, and many more industry veterans with equally impressive pedigrees.
So what does this mean for the future of independent film? Potentially, it could mean a radical shift in how the public consumes film. Until now, the model for most independent filmmakers was to either lure investors (very difficult) or go all-in themselves and max out their credit cards to finance their film. If the movie actually manages to get made without studio backing, the filmmakers then pray that it gets accepted into Sundance, and maybe, just maybe if the film fits into the schedule and target demographic of a particular boutique banner like Focus Features or Fox Searchlight and is a hit with audiences, it’s got a slim chance to be picked up and distributed. And even then, it may never be released beyond New York and Los Angeles, likely to enjoy only a very limited run in theaters.
The chances of a low-budget indie film getting a wide theatrical release? Virtually zero. Hollywood’s monopoly on the film industry has had the same effect on product quality as all monopolies do in any industry. When an oligarchy of powerful companies controls everything, quality inevitably suffers. But the folks at The Official Best of Fest may very well have found a way to circumvent the profit-driven gatekeepers of the lumbering studio system. What does that mean to the casual movie fan? Fresh ideas. New concepts. Original scripts. Better movies. And the more inclined the public is to see film as a premier source of art and entertainment, the more demand there will be for good product, thus increasing the likelihood that the best films, big or small, will be seen by as many people as possible.
So how do you get involved in the revolution? The Official Best of Fest has compiled a number of DVD gift sets categorized by monikers like “Award-Winning Films that Inspire,” “Award-Winning Indie Chick Flicks,” “Award-Winning Short Films for Kids” and even sets for families, dog-lovers, romance, comedy and many more. Or if you just want a taste of it all they offer, “The Official Best of Fest Sampler,” which comes loaded with everything from charming, well-written shorts about false teeth and full-disclosure dating, to hard-hitting, feature-length dramas (“Mother of Mine,” “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont”) that will have you in tears. Do yourself a favor and check out the official website: