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Real Indie Films Find a Home at Worldfest Houston

In the world of independent film Worldfest Houston stands alone. It is  an international film festival for truly independent filmmakers who are looking for a place to show their movies to the public and secure a distribution deal. It is also the last bastion of hope for the future of indie films.

Worldfest Houston was originally founded as an International Film Society called Cinema Arts way back in nineteen sixty one.  Hunter Todd, the founding father created this unique film festival for the purpose of showing independent films and giving them their due credit. In those days indie films were still considered to be movies that were not associated in any way with major film studios.

One of the first international film festivals in North America, Worldfest Houston was a pioneer in the world of indie film competitions. In nineteen sixty eight, seven years after Cinema Arts was founded they held their first film festival. They have held this competition every year since then and it is still going strong today.

While many other film festivals have been created in its wake, none have remained as pure as this one. Most of the other competitions for indie filmmakers have been corrupted by allowing mainstream Hollywood to enter their films.  In the eyes of indie filmmakers this is a bad thing.  When mainstream Hollywood invades a film festival they suck all the proverbial air out of the room.  The spotlight stays on them and the famous people they bring to the dance. The unknown indie filmmakers are pushed aside in favor of big name celebrities.

The mainstream Hollywood invasion of film festivals has all but eliminated venues for up and coming filmmakers to show their films and get distribution deals. Its like the rich kids in high school showing up at a party for poor kids and handing out money. The party suddenly focuses on the rich kids and the whole dynamic changes.  It is no longer a party. It is now a source of income.  

The people who run indie film festivals other than Worldfest Houston know that allowing big name studios and their stars into their show will bring them a lot of publicity, which ultimately means bigger sponsors. In other words, the money that the festival brings in is more important to them the original idea of having an independent film festival,  to showcase the creative and artistic side of the film industry.

Nowadays, the category of movies known as independent films is somewhat hard to define. Technically, it is any movie that has no more than fifty percent of its budget provided by one of the Big Six movie studios such as Paramount, Disney or Warner Bros. Philosophically however, the definition is a bit more nebulous.

If you were to ask a major Hollywood studio executive what the definition of an independent film is they would tell you that it is a movie that is made with a relatively small budget by one of the indie film divisions of their studios.  Ask a person like Hunter Todd that same question and he will tell you something quite different.  He would probably say something to the effect that a true independent film is one that has a small budget with a great story created by someone who has no ties professionally or artistically to the mainstream Hollywood film industry.

The thing that makes Worldfest Houston so different from the rest of the film festivals out there is that it is the only one left that accepts absolutely no movies from any of the Big Six film studios. They have remained faithful to the artistic side of the film industry and the artists who make the real indie films.  The movies and the indie filmmakers are more important to them than the industry part of the business.

Worldfest Houston is a film festival that is designed to help indie filmmakers in many aspects of their careers.  In addition to the film competition they also offer classes that are taught by seasoned professionals of the independent film industry.  There is even a page on their web site that gives a crash course on how to make a winning film entry. It also tells you the best way to enter your film and tips on how to get publicity reviews that will help you get a distribution deal for your indie film. 

While most of the other big name film festivals have become nothing more than platforms for the independent film divisions of the Big Six movie studios to show their independent films, Worldfest Houston has remained faithful to real independent filmmakers. This is a film festival that wants nothing to do with mainstream Hollywood. Their main goal is to give the up and comers a chance to succeed in the film industry.

By prohibiting the Big Six studios to enter their competition Worldfest Houston allows the smaller films to get some attention.  Hunter Todd and the other people who work behind the scenes of this festival really seem to care about indie filmmakers and their future. In this film industry where mega million dollar budget films get most of the attention its good to see that someone still cares about the little guy who makes movies with a lot of passion, and a small amount of money.


  2012 Copyright.  Michael P. Connelly

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