HomeCity NewsFilm Festival Offers a Global Feast for the Eyes

Film Festival Offers a Global Feast for the Eyes

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

The Glendale International Film Festival kicked off on Friday, returning to an in-person format for the first time since 2019.
Competitive screenings will continue through Sunday, after which the host organization Glendale Arts will announce its awards at the closing night reception. After that, the organization will collaboratively host a series of special screenings with other community groups in a series titled “Film Week Glendale.”
To usher in the weekend, Glendale Arts hosted an opening night reception at the Glenmark Hotel, inviting filmmakers and guests to mingle as they enjoyed drinks and discussed their projects in the competition. After pivoting to a remote streamed event in 2020 and not holding the festival last year, it was clear that organizers were happy to be back, ready to enjoy movies on the big screen together as it was meant to be.
“I can’t be more thrilled,” Susan Hunt, chair of the Glendale Arts board, said at the opening reception Thursday. “It’s been an honor for us to be able to present it.”
GIFF is screening in-competition films at the Laemmle Theatre through Saturday night and then from noon-5:40 p.m. Sunday, after which it will have the awards reception at PIRCH in the Glendale Galleria. It is also hosting a student filmmaker competition from noon to 5 p.m. at Glendale Community College.
Films range from shorts, features and documentaries, live and animated, all over the genre-scape. First-time filmmakers and veterans alike have their projects in the event.
Martin Sharpe, an Australian filmmaker who moved to Glendale in October 2019, has a 12-minute horror short “The Evil Is Inside” in the competition. The movie — in which a recently divorced father confides to a friend that he has been seeing demons in the family home — serves as a proof-of-life concept he hopes to pitch as a feature-length production, and was recently screened at the Catalina Film Festival. He filmed the short, his first American film, in about two days at a home on Milford Street in 2020.

Filmmakers enjoyed the opportunity to network and socialize at the Glendale International Film Festival opening reception. Their movies are screening all weekend, with awards to be announced Sunday.

To enter the short in a local film festival was a no-brainer, Sharpe said.
“When I saw it existed, I said I have to submit to this,” he recalled. “I was probably more excited about this than other film festivals. How many times can you walk down to the Laemmle and see something you directed?”
Russian film composer Sergei Sterm has entered his first film, a 6-minute short titled “Addictions,” into the festival. He has spent more than a decade working on film scores in Israel and here and said he spent a lot of that time studying how films are made, paving the way for his inaugural foray.
Film festivals, he said, serve as a fun way to meet others like him and talk shop.
“As a filmmaker, I’m just starting. This part, the mingling and networking, is probably my favorite part,” he said at Thursday’s reception.
Peter Bahlawanian, a producer who lives in the San Fernando Valley, has a pair of documentaries in the competition, including “The Desire to Live” directed by Mariam Avetisyan. The 90-minute movie, which screens Sunday, chronicles stories of the residents of Artsakh following the 44-day war in 2020 that began when Azerbaijani forces launched an attack.
A veteran producer, Bahlawanian said events like film festivals serve as a way to see a variety of films and meet the minds behind them. They can serve as opportunities for future collaboration and networking, he said.
“A lot of people love film festivals for that alone,” he added. “They make a big impact on the filmmakers.”
As if to illustrate that point, Sterm approached Bahlawanian and introduced himself. After chatting about their films in the competition and what else they do, Sterm suggested he could compose one of Bahlawanian’s future projects, and they exchanged Instagram accounts.
To learn more about this year’s Glendale International Film Festival and purchase tickets, visit glendaleiff.org.

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