I recently listened to a fascinating podcast about the importance of creativity, and how it is an integral trait that brings joy and fulfillment to our lives when we use it. Many dismiss this idea with an off-handed, “But I’m just not a creative person.” When we dismiss the idea of being creative, we neglect to see what creativity really is. It is not about having the ability to paint or draw. It is so much more than that. It is within all of us, and creativity comes in many forms. It is music, film, art, and a whole host of other crafts. It is the thing that brings us happiness, allows us to express ourselves, and lets us experience humility and inspiration as we try, fail, and try again. That trial and error process often presents us with new ideas and concepts – giving us a great sense of accomplishment when the process is complete. I love that the Greenwich International Film Festival creates space for creativity here in our town. The event runs for 4 days in early June, and they have workshops, films, discussions, and parties planned at multiple venues in town. It’s a way to get your creative juices flowing, to escape into the world of film, and a fascinating way to network with industry changemakers and entrepreneurs. As a small scale filmmaker myself I am thrilled to see this medium highlighted and shared with the masses. You can buy tickets for the whole 4 day event or just hand pick parts of it that make you excited. Let’s hear it for the arts!
Q&A with Wendy Reyes and Colleen Deveer, Co-Founders, GIFF
What is the Greenwich International Film Festival?
The Greenwich International Film Festival is a boutique 4 day film festival that is held annually in Greenwich, CT. This year GIFF will launch its sophomore season June 9th featuring a slate of 53 films, panels, parties and galas.
How can people get involved?
It truly takes a village to build a film festival. Last year we had a staff of more than 120 employees, interns, and volunteers who were all critical to our ability to execute the 70 plus events we hold each year. We count a tremendous amount on our volunteers and community advocates to spread the word about the festival.
Where can people buy tickets?
People can buy passes and tickets online (www.greenwichfilm.org) and there are discounts available to Greenwich residents, students, teachers and service men and women. We offer panels free to the public. Pass holders are critical in our ability to offer discounted and free events so everyone in our community can be included in some aspect of the festival weekend.
Are the tickets “one size fits all” or can people buy a la carte to the parts of the festival they are most interested in?
One challenge is communicating “How to Fest” to our audience. There is something for everyone and each of our 7,500 attendees last year had their own unique experience. Whether you are a pass holder who loves comedies, a doc junkie, a parent interested in our Children’s Acting Workshop, or someone who is interested in our Black Tie Changemaker Gala. We offer options for engagement for everyone! We have opened a box office just off Greenwich Ave at 19 West Elm street right next to Aux Delices where people can come in and ask questions.
Where will your events take place?
Our events this year will take place at the Bow Tie Cinemas, the beautiful Avon Theatre, the Greenwich High School, Greenwich Country Day School and the Greenwich Library. We will also have a VR lounge open during the festival at the Nantucket Project headquarters. Our parties will be hosted at The Boys and Girls Club, Betteridge, Richards and The J House among others. Greenwich is the ideal community for a film festival as we are able to create a true festival village and there is easy access in and out of Manhattan.
What are a few of the highlights that make this year different than last year?
This year I am incredibly excited about the quality and diversity of the film slate. I am also thrilled that the 2016 Film Festival will be serving as a platform for Human Rights issues and we will be partnering with The Rainforest Fund, an organization founded by this year’s Changemaker, Trudie Styler and her husband Sting, which supports indigenous communities around the world; The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Community Access, an organization that helps low income people particularly those afflicted with mental illness find housing; and UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee agency. Additionally, we are partnering with many local organizations like the YWCA to highlight films we have on issues such as women’s rights, autism, environmental rights, and gun violence.
Is there an opportunity for kids to get involved?
Our Children’s Acting Workshop was one of my favorite events of our first year. This year it will be held on Saturday, June 11 at Greenwich Country Day School and will be featuring actress Peyton List (Jessie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and Neel Sethi current star of The Jungle Book. Passholder’s children will also have the opportunity to see what it is like to audition with the help of casting director and board member Adrienne Stern and children’s acting coach Matt Newton. The event is very interactive and guests have the opportunity to engage in acting exercises in addition to hearing about Peyton and Neel’s personal experiences.
What does GIFF bring to our town that is special and unique?
GIFF is really an opportunity to showcase Greenwich to the rest of the world. The first year’s festival resulted in 280 million media stories including coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Town and Country, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and on The Today Show, CNBC and Access Hollywood to name a few. Additionally, the fest generated over 4 million dollars in economic impact to the town and we had 7,5000 people come through our events over the weekend. In a survey we did immediately following the festival 98% of people who attended said they would attend again and refer it to a friend.
Why do the arts matter?
To us, film is the most powerful form of art. There is nothing else that can pick you up and put you into someone else’s life in the timeframe a movie can. It is a medium that can generate immediate empathy. In a town where many of us are blessed with homes, food on the table and safe places for our children to go to school, it is important that we remain aware of what is going on in the broader world, hopefully helping us to become engaged wherever we can.