WorldFest showcases indie movies

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Fabian Brims

An audience gathers to watch a movie shown as part of the annual WordFest movie festival. This year’s festival showed 78 films and 106 short movies from 37 different countries.

Fabian Brims, Staff Writer

Houston hosted the renowned WorldFest once again this year—the world’s largest and America’s longest running independent film festival.

Founded in 1961, the WorldFest continues to find new talents in filmmaking. Big names like Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, and Ang Lee got their first awards right here in Houston and went on to have successful careers in Hollywood.

The team of festival director Hunter Todd had to watch literally thousands of short and feature films over the previous months, but the effort was worth it.

The festival showed 78 features and 106 short movies from as many as 37 countries all between the April 8 and 17. The variety of topics were broader than ever.

Also, like in the last years, there were also 9 seminars to where filmmakers were able to learn more about subjects like scriptwriting, filmmaker unions, using drones to shoot movies and directing actors among other things.

All the films were shown at the AMC Gulf Pointe 30 movie theater, and often the filmmakers were sitting in the seats, answering any questions from the audience after the screening. More than 600 filmmakers were scheduled to attend the event.

The spectrum of the festival spanned a wide range of all kinds of shorts, drama, comedy, thrillers, and especially the variety of origin countries opened a fascinating look into the world of filmmaking. This year, there were two countries in the focus of the festival. Filmmakers from China and Italy were able to show their work in special panorama programs and about 100 filmmakers flew in from China to represent their work here in Houston.

The festival wasn’t free of controversy. A documentary on the negative effects of vaccinations was dropped more or less voluntarily from the program after Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed his disapproval. Since the city of Houston is one of the main sponsors of the event, the movie was dropped before an official request was submitted.

Although the festival crew strives to ensure variety and quality, and since diversity is one of the more important features of a film festival, some viewers were also unhappy about the lack of entries from Islamic countries.

This year, some HCC students attended a scholarship program, where they were given VIP passes to the event, so they could watch as many movies as they wanted and attend the master classes.

The feedback from students was positive may inspire some of the students to make their own movie and perhaps submit their work for the next year’s WorldFest. Next year’s festival will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the competition that promises to be a banner year.  Many previous winners and some current celebrities, which had their beginnings at this festival, will be in attendance and send of another generation of filmmakers to thriving careers.

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