Urban Film Festival: A Lost Cause

I’ve been a straightforward guy in criticizing film festivals even the ones that I was a part of or even the ones that I’ve won prizes at. I refuse to submit my films to many festivals because of numerous reasons but the simplest explanation would be this: The festival is a joke! For me Hasanat, Rouyesh, and these type of ideological-based events are worthless. They don’t care about short film or in a wider sense, film. They just want to spread their idea by using/abusing filmmakers’ works. A lot of filmmakers are also attracted to these circuses because of the huge cash prizes. I personally know a lot of so called filmmakers who only make films because of these festivals. In fact, I don’t think any honorable filmmaker would make films only for festivals.

One side of this broken system is these participants who just love festivals and awards more than their dignity. They don’t even care what kind of festival it is, as long as it has a bit of publicity and a huge cash prize. But I don’t want to talk about this side today because people’s stupidity is out of our control. I wanna talk about the other side which concerns festivals directly. When you are organizing a theme-based festival, you have to release that your theme is the critical difference of the event with any other. For example this year we have the 6th edition of the Urban Film Festival which based its identity on the “Urban” theme. They still don’t have a functioning English website but consider themselves as the most prestigious international film festival focusing on the urban issues. I was waiting for this event for so long because of my film’s theme. I believed this is the perfect place for my film to be screened and be discussed so I submitted my film. 32 short films were accepted and surprisingly more than half of them doesn’t have the slightest connection to urban concepts. Some of them are not even taking place in an urban location and some of them are fully filmed indoors. It’s not that those are bad films, It’s just ridiculous for them to be there in the competition section o the urban-based festival. As much as unforgivable it is for the unqualified selection committee it also is humiliating for the filmmakers who submitted their non-related projects. Some of them are my friends and I like their works but this is just unbelievably ridiculous.

In such circumstances, it is the festival’s duty to manage and protects its core values. Unfortunately Urban Film Festival has chosen a wrong path. Instead of focusing on their theme, they are trying to become a bigger festival like Fajr. They hold international workshops and seminars with semi-professionals and trying to look something that they’re not. We already have a prestigious international film festival which can cover all of these programs. Urban Film Festival used to be a powerful festival which was to the point until the previous edition. They valued the works which were totally representing urban community and citizen’s interactions. But now it seems that they’ve lost it. It seems the selection committee have forgotten what is the name of the festival.

At first, I really was sorry that my film wasn’t accepted in this year’s short film competition section but now I’m feeling sorry for both a good festival which lost its purpose and the filmmakers who don’t understand their own works’ position.

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