March: In like a lion, out like a lamb. Unless you’re near New York’s Lower East Side. In that case, the most interesting thing about the beginning of March very well may be the LES Film Festival.
Hosted just before spring every year, the LES Film Festival is a collection of films made for less than $200,000 each. Films range from comedy to animated to drama and can be shorts or full length movies. Some of the films this year feature well-known actors. As of March 6, 2012’s LES Film Festival is in full swing. The two week video showcase kicked off with “A Little Closer,” a feature centering around a family of three and their life lessons on love and sexuality.
Films are viewed in various venues around the Lower East Side, including Grand Opening, 2A and this year, the Landmark Sunshine Cinema among others. Tickets for each showing are $10, and the reservation guarantees more than just a seat. Screenings are BYOB but often also include free alcohol and on some occasions, free popcorn as well. Filmmakers and judges are prone to making appearances at the events, and many of the films are followed by Q&A with the crews. William DeFoe and Susan Sarandon both attended the 2012 LES Film Festival along with directors of other shorts and sometimes entire behind-the-scenes casts.
The LES Film Festival acts as a showcase for filmmakers who exercise their creativity in creating films without the luxury of large budgets. Some of these shorts, such as Nick Peterson’s “Drained,” prove to the audience that a talented director needs little more than a creative vision and drive to make that vision a reality. “Drained” won this year’s award for best animated short and will be shown alongside winners from other categories in the festival’s final showcases.
Not only does the film festival provide an opportunity for audience members to screen films and interact with directors, actors and judges, the directors of the festival encourage ticket holders to attend the opening night party and after party, both free and featuring open bars. Those interested in attending the parties need only to RSVP online to guarantee entrance. During the after party, festival winning films, selected not only by judges but by online voting from the audience as well, are announced and awards are presented.
This year’s festival culminates with the winning showcases at Landmark Sunshine Cinema hosted, as always, by the four amazing directors who make this annual event a possibility. While all shows are sold out for 2012, snagging a place on this email list is worth the effort, which really only requires signing up at lesfilmfestival.com. Improved upon every year, the LES Film Festival promises to be worthwhile in 2013.