The deadline for submissions for Mental Filmness 2022, August 27th, has passed. So what’s the plan for the fest this year?
Given the uncertain nature of our world the last few years, I’ve always had to be rather speculative in the event description provided to the submitting filmmakers. It would usually say something along the lines of, at the very least, the show will go on and there will be a virtual festival and perhaps virtual interviews. Then depending on the state of things, we may be able to host a live festival in Chicago.
This is the first year since the inaugural festival in 2019 that I’ve felt comfortable enough to host a live event–reasonably certain both that I could secure a venue and that people would come out for it, fingers crossed. And as you may have seen in my earlier post, we are finally hosting that hoped-for live event at the Davis Theater the evening of October 15th, with two really incredible films and guests.
Every other filmmaker who submitted, if their film is selected, will be offered a spot in our virtual festival hosted through Eventive. The festival will be available for viewing and voting all around the world. These films will still be eligible for awards and interviews. Submitting filmmakers will be notified of our decision on September 10th, and they will be notified regardless of the result.
Every year of Mental Filmness has been magical and and a learning experience in its own way. If I had the choice, I don’t think I would have considered hosting a virtual festival. I really didn’t want to let go of the idea or momentum of Mental Filmness after the first year though, so I decided to give it a whirl. (Much of this was planned during an actual shelter in place order in Chicago where we were not encouraged to leave our homes, and my workplace was temporarily closed). I was surprised by how putting together the virtual festival brought me such a sense of comfort and belonging. I was lucky enough to speak to some of the filmmakers via Zoom and feel like I connected with them. I could give the films more exposure by keeping them up longer and opening them up to viewers around the world. By the same token, I could interview filmmakers from Singapore or Australia while sitting in my living room in Chicago.
Now I feel like I can’t really give the virtual festival up. I love the idea that I have friends and family members viewing in other states, and that the friends and family members of the filmmakers can watch from their far-flung locations. I’m almost sure it always means we can include more films and give the films more exposure. Now that I’ve started the virtual fest, I feel like it’s here to stay.
I’ve learned better than to even *try* to predict the future, but I can foresee Mental Filmness continuing as a hybrid festival of some sort—as many film festivals have now become. After dipping our toes back in the water this year with an evening of live programming, I would like to expand the number of films we can offer in Chicago in the future. I know that the feeling of being with a live audience and the filmmakers in person is a truly unique and relatable experience. However, now that it’s been kicked off, I expect the virtual fest will continue work its own magic, hopefully finding its way into the intimate spaces of a viewer who needs it.