Filmmakers from across the globe will be in town this weekend to showcase their own work and see features and shorts from more than 30 countries.
Louisville’s International Festival of Film (LIFF) will mark its 10th anniversary beginning Thursday, Oct. 11, with an opening night reception and screening of its featured film, “Beyond the Silence,” at the Kentucky Science Center. In all, about 130 shorts and features will be showcased during eight screening sessions around downtown Louisville from Oct. 11-13.
Conrad Bachmann, founder and co-president/director of LIFF, said the event has grown each year since its inception a decade ago, most notably in the number of international filmmakers who submit their work and come to Louisville for screening sessions.
This year’s lineup includes three films from Russia and four films from Syria, along with contributions from Japan and across Europe.
“I really wanted to put the name of Louisville, Ky., out there in the world, so that when people thought about Louisville, they didn’t automatically say, ‘Oh yeah, The Derby,’” said Bachmann, a Louisville native who’s been working in the L.A. entertainment industry since the late ’50s, earning credits in hundreds of films and TV shows serving as the Governor of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “I want them to say, ‘Oh yeah, a film festival.’”
The event has grown primarily via international press coverage and positive word of mouth from filmmakers who have attended in past years and enjoyed the experience, Bachmann added. “When filmmakers are looking at the festivals they can attend, to gain exposure for their films, they are going to pick the ones that offer them the most bang for their buck, and I believe we do that.”
In addition to the local audience, film distributors attend the event each year, creating opportunities for networking and broader release of the selected works. Bachmann said one distributor who regularly attended past shows would routinely pick up four or five films each year.
And this year’s event also marks the debut of a screenwriters’ competition. So, for the filmmakers, this is serious business.
Bachmann views every film shown at the festival, and the decisions on which works to accept can be tough. He sometimes pulls in friends in the industry to help make the call. (The festival’s advisory board includes a number of entertainment professionals, including comedy legend Lily Tomlin.)
This year’s featured work, “Beyond the Silence,” follows the story of a man who suffers from multiple personality disorder as he stands trial for murder. The plot plays out as witnesses relate different encounters with the main character.
The 2015 film, directed by U.S. filmmaker William Michael Barbee and based on his own novel, has screened at several festivals while looking for broader release.
“It’s just an outstanding film, from the production to the story to the acting,” Bachmann said.
Most of the films screening this weekend are short subjects, largely due to the economic challenges faced by independent filmmakers, Bachmann said. He’s hesitant to single out films as his favorites, but a few that stand out this year are:
“Dillon” (U.S.) — A 15-minute short about a family’s struggle to cope with the loss of a son. It screens Saturday, Oct. 13, at 12:30 p.m. in the Conference Room at Homewood Suites by Hilton.
“Invaders” (U.K.) — A charming short about precocious, sentient UFOs and Christmas. Bachmann noted that the special effects in “Invaders” are exceptional for a short subject. It screens Friday, Oct. 12, at 4:15 p.m. in the auditorium at the Ali Center.
“Anne Frank Meets God” (U.S.) — Bachmann’s brief review of this short, an imagining between Frank and God following the teen’s murder during the Holocaust, is simply “awesome.” It screens Saturday, Oct. 13, at 2:15 p.m. in the auditorium at the Ali Center.
“Thursday” (Russia) — A short film that tackles the tough subject of medical incompetence as a mother fights for her child’s life. It screens Friday, Oct. 12, at 4 p.m. in Screening Room 1 at the Ali Center.
“The Wilderness” (U.S.) — Chronicles a night spent by Union soldiers as they try to cope with the carnage around them. The short subject screens Saturday, Oct. 13, at 12:15 p.m. in the Conference Room at Homewood Suites by Hilton.
For a full schedule of screening session and films, check out the LIFF website. You can find more information on each of the films here. Day passes for the screening sites run about $15, with package deals available online.
The festival closes with “Straight Up Kentucky Bourbon,” a documentary detailing the recent bourbon boom and featuring all the key players, from master distillers to barrel makers. It screens Saturday, Oct. 13, at 4:35 p.m. in the auditorium at the Ali Center.