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Interview: Eric Morgret of MIFFF

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review,    

A short while back went to, and reviewed, MIFFF and loved it. Thankfully, we were able to get Eric Morgret to answer a few questions about the genre film festival.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the film festival?
I was born into sweet sincerity and a touch of insanity. Marriage has been very good to me.

All my life I have studied film, formal training at the Art Institute and The Film School, informal training at Suncoast, Scarecrow Video, and Netflix. The Art Institute was marginally helpful but The Film School was life changing. The video stores are indispensable. Making films, commercials, music videos, and shorts is a never ending training course of the art. Suffice to say I like movies.

MIFFF was started to showcase the inventive and unusual. The world of genre film is often regulated to the basement or garbage heap of the industry. This is a tragedy to me. Some of the most creative work in film is done outside conventional work. Whole worlds need to be created, unreal and terrifying situations made to feel genuine, fantasy needs to become as real as your neighbor, and art comes to life to amaze the audience.

What are the challenges of running a film festival?
We are a non-profit so money is an issue. Of course that is true for the majority of people working in the arts.
Finding good films is tough but not as daunting a task as I initially feared. Talent is everywhere and I am thrilled to sit down and watch a true artist at work.

Another huge hurdle is getting the word out. Getting people to come out and take a chance on an unknown. We have some great film festivals in Seattle: SIFF, STIFF, One Reel, and many others. Our goal is to get MIFFF added to the lexicon of great festivals in Seattle. We also want to reach out to the deep network of genre film festivals that are sprinkled throughout the world. Some of them have been going for years and we are still the new kids in the theater.

MIFFF,Eric Morgret,Tom Provost

Why did you decide to focus on genre films?
It is usually the style of film I return to again and again. As much as I love some of the great films like “Amadeus” or “Casablanca”, I don’t reach for them very often. When I look for a film to watch on Netflix or at a store my first inclination is genre films. Some of the most exciting and original work is done in these films. Film is often away to escape from the “real world”. It’s hard to do that with a film that is based on the horrors of real life. My inclination is to see something I have not, or do not want, to experience. Everyone has had a broken heart or been shattered by something that happened in a family. People have commented to me often, they ask “How can you watch those movies? I hate seeing all that violence?”. The movie where a man invades your dream is far less painful than a movie about a family falling apart.

What gave you the idea to take on a event of this sort? What is the ultimate goal of the festival?
It started with a small mini-festival at Norwescon. I found some great shorts and some features. They were shown in a sad little room and almost no one showed up. The few that did loved the films. They were so happy to see something they would never have heard about.

I have had my greatest movie going experiences at festivals. Seeing a movie in a crowd of people that are there because they have made the effort to get up, go to a theater, and see a movie they may have only heard the title of, and to love the film, that is a moment to remember.

People told me they took time off of work to make sure they would not miss a moment of MIFFF. That is the ultimate goal to put something together that is good enough to be a can’t miss event.

Do you see more of any particular genre than others in the submissions (horror, for instance)?
By far it is horror. Out of almost 200 submissions we had 80 horror. I say keep them coming. We can always use more from every category.

Have you ever shown a film that went on to become a cult classic?
Not really. We are starting our third year so it could be a little early to call that. A film we showed the first year could be quirky and fun enough for that: “The Revenant”. All the features we show are low-profile enough that it is always possible.

MIFFF,Eric Morgret,Tom Provost

Did one (or more) of the films you've shown ever get picked up by a studio?
I can’t answer that one yet. Could be close though.

What is your criteria when reviewing entries for the film festival?
Story is king. I kept working on ways to elaborate this but that covers it. Story is king.

What is attendance like at your festival?
Attendance was almost doubled from the first year, it is growing.

Are there any events (other than watching the films) we can expect to see at the festival, like interview panels, "speeches" and such?
We are working on putting something more together for next year. The main change is we will have the awards ceremony during the festival. Some filmmakers show and they will do Q&A. A big event would be to join everyone for drinks after the festival. Bar to be named. It’s great conversation about the film you just watched.

Do the film makers make appearances at the festival?
Yes they do.

Are there any special announcements you'd like to make here first?
Submissions for 2011 should be live by the end of October. Get films in now. If you have a film you want to submit drop me an email and mention ‘Bitter Balcony’ the first five will get the submission fee waived. All submission info can be found here: http://www.mifff.org/submissions.html

If you had an entry from Uwe Boll would you show it?
If it was good, play the odds on that one. He shoots out of Vancouver a lot. Maybe he would come down and Bitter Balconey and MIFFF could put on a boxing match?

If yes, why? Because that just sounds silly.
Because you could get in the ring with him.

I'm not sure how to take Eric's last answer. On one hand, he could be telling me that I could kick Uwe's ass. I'm not sure if I could pull that, so I'm leaning towards Eric wanting to see a critic get his ass kicked. As an artist I'm conflicted because I'm voting for this as much as against, for obvious reasons.

Thanks for the great answers, Eric!

Source of the Bitter: JAS

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