The West Chester Film Festival is an annual film festival dedicated to short films of all genres, and was held April 22-24 in West Chester, PA. Our short documentary, e-NABLE: Open technology, faster progress, was not only accepted into the film festival, but it was also nominated for and (spoiler alert) won Best Documentary!
Here’s a little snapshot of the weekend:
What made the film festival acceptance so exciting?
Rachel: The Red Hat video team is passionate about documentaries and telling stories (even though our skill set is pretty wide-ranging), so we all tend to attend and nerd out about film festivals. This was the first time Red Hat has ever had a film accepted into a film festival, so that made all of our film-loving hearts happy. It was also the first time I’d ever personally worked on a film accepted into a film festival. Winning Best Documentary for our first time out was also a really proud moment for us.
Brett: Film festivals are always fun, especially if you like sitting through hours of new films for a few days…which, of course, I do. What was even better about this one was that our film e-NABLE got accepted. It’s a big deal for us because we work so hard to make these something we think are great. The fact that other film goers liked it enough to put it in their festival brings us a huge sense of pride. Not only that, but it got nominated for Best Documentary!
What was the festival like?
Rachel: Part of our acceptance got us two passes to the film festival, so Brett & I rented a car and made the 7-8ish hour drive up to West Chester, PA from Raleigh, NC. West Chester is a really beautiful, historic town, so it was a great venue for the festival. We stayed at a hotel right in the middle of everything, so we walked to all of the events and viewings. It was a pretty small festival, so it felt pretty intimate. You got to see a lot of the filmmakers and see the same people throughout the weekend.
Brett: Something that was great about the festival was that they played the films twice and organized them so if you wanted, you can plan it so you can see almost every film, which I’m pretty sure we did. The films were played in two different historic buildings in the middle of the town, which made it easy to walk from one to the other. You could easily stop for coffee or food between each film block.
What was your favorite film & why?
Rachel: We saw a lot of great films over the course of the weekend… the ones that stood out to me were “Dear Santa”, about a little girl who asks to be a boy for Christmas; and “Take Care”, about a terribly sarcastic, terminally ill patient who is in love with her nurse. There was also a film in the Young Filmmakers Block that was really beautifully shot—“Liberte”—extremely impressive considering the category is for 18 and under.
Brett: This is a tough one because we saw so many films. I can’t pick just one, so I am going to have to pick the two that really stood out to me. “Dear Santa,” was a story about a little girl who wanted nothing else for Christmas but to be a boy. This beautifully shot film brings us through the journey of her love of hockey, which she secretly play with her dad, and Mom’s rejection of the letter she wrote to ask to be a boy. Beautifully told story. The second is “Take Care”. A profane, humorous take on an ill young lady who lives in the hospital. Wonderfully written and definitely worth seeing.
What was your favorite part of the overall festival?
Rachel: I thought the film festival staff were incredibly welcoming and supportive. Getting to show our film to an audience outside of our “normal” viewing audience was incredible. Everyone seemed to really understand our open source message, and of course, the e-NABLE project is amazing and really resonated with everyone as well. It reminded me why we’re telling these stories.
Brett: One of my favorite parts was getting to enjoy all the films. I love spending the day watching films, especially when you don’t know much about each one. No trailer or any spoilers out in the world to ruin it for you. The staff was so inviting and kind. You can tell everyone on the staff truly loves putting on this event. It makes a big difference. But the best part was the response our film got throughout the festival, and of course it winning Best Documentary!