Muscatine Independent Film Festival hopes to inspire local creators

-- photo via Wikimedia Commons
The festival takes place at the MCC Student Center (152 Colorado Street) in Muscatine, Iowa.

Muscatine Independent Film Festival

Muscatine Community College Student Center – November 2 at 7 p.m.

Muscatine, Iowa will see its first-ever independent film festival this Saturday, complete with a VIP Green Room, faux-paparazzi and a diverse selection of short films.

Organizers will screen a total of ten films — seven of which were shot in Iowa — beginning at 7 p.m. in the Muscatine Community College Student Center. Several of the showcasing filmmakers will also be on-hand to conduct Q&A sessions following their respective screenings.

Attendees can choose between a standard $5 pass or an $8 VIP pass. VIPs are invited to join filmmakers for pizza and conversation in the festival’s Green Room beginning at 6 p.m. Two awards will be handed out following the event — one for “Best Iowan Film” and one for “Viewers Choice.”

The festival is being produced by Chad Bishop of the Muscatine Community College video department and Mike Ray of Final Draft Productions, who’ve spent the last year or so hashing out the details for their inaugural event. They saw other festivals taking place in cities like Burlington and Iowa City and thought, “Why not here?”

Bishop says that the event is not just about bringing film aficionados together, but inspiring those who create films to do more than just throw their independent work online with little fanfare.

“I know [filmmakers] are using the internet to show their productions, but I think there’s a need for a larger, more personal format,” Bishop said, noting that Muscatine, with a modest population of about 23,000, was in dire need of such an event. “Why not create? Why not gather? Why not socialize?”

The way we experience film and engage with the medium on an interpersonal level is just as relevant to Bishop as the films themselves.

“With the way the internet and texting and Facebook and all these things are, it seems people are becoming passive. We’re able to communicate without actually leaving our houses,” he said. “I think [the festival] is a nod to hold onto that day when we actually went to the movies and actually produced and giggled with each other.”

This sort of interaction is important because it changes the way we perceive the medium, Bishop says.

“If you read something out loud that you’ve written among a group of ten people, you’re real conscious of what you wrote or what you produced because you’re hearing the feedback live,” he said. “I think that’s very inspiring.”

Despite this being its first year, Bishop and Ray were happy with amount of work local and national filmmakers submitted to the festival. “Just putting this out there, right off the bat there were lots of people that were interested in submitting films,” Bishop said. Part of the selection process involves giving deference to the local creators while paying mind to the pros as well. “There are film producers who basically shop their films across the country and enter every film festival they’re aware of.”

Parsing the national indie market was a task left to Ray, Bishop notes. “He picked a couple that he knew were good and would be nice draws so when people come to this event, they’re inspired to come back or produce their own films.”

The Muscatine Independent Film Festival kicks off on November 2 at 6 p.m. for those with VIP Green Room access. The festival screenings — open to all regular ticket holders — begin at 7:00 p.m. and are expected to run until about 9:15 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

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