Thursday, August 13, 2009

Independently nil - Zero Film Festival comes East

By Meredith Deliso

A couple years ago, filmmaker Richard Hooban became frustrated trying to get his low-budget film into indie festivals. He realized that to have a forum for independent films like his own, made without any financial backing, he needed to create it himself.

Last year, that resulted in the Zero Film Festival in Los Angeles, featuring over 70 self-financed, zero budget films from the United States and around the world.

This winter, the festival is making its New York premiere, with five days of screenings currently in the works for this December. Until then, you can get a mini preview when a kick-off event comes to Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO August 20.

“New York’s got a lot of good film festivals, but Zero Film Festival is the first one exclusively for self-financed films,” says Hooban. “I showed a lot of films from Brooklyn last year. People suggested I come over and try it here, and I thought, Yeah, why not, I like New York.”

Splitting time between LA and New York, Hooban has been living in Fort Greene for the past five months, working on the festival. In addition to holding screenings here, Hooban plans on expanding the festival’s reach even more, with screenings in LA, followed by a cross-country tour, and then it’s off to Europe next summer.

“It’s been very, very organic and from the ground up,” says the festival’s founder. “We are not about making money. It’s about passion.”

The August 20 kickoff will feature a program of local filmmakers’ work with an emphasis on short films, experimental work, and animation. Hooban asked filmmakers he’s worked with in the past to do an original work. Among the offerings, which features “everything under the sun,” including a documentary on Peru and a film from a comedy troupe, may also be a short piece by Hooban himself. Leading up to the event, he was planning on working on a short piece about summer dresses, the idea being there’s a male character who decides it’s unfair that women can wear pants and men can’t wear dresses, especially in the dog days of summer.

Headlining the screenings will be an offering from Israeli filmmaker Guy Benier.

“I liked his work and his mythology – taking guerrilla filmmaking to the extreme,” says Hooban.

In addition to the screenings, there will also be live music from local DJs and musicians, including Kaki King, and new visuals from filmmaker Timothy Saccenti.

For those looking to get involved, Hooban welcomes help from volunteers, and he is accepting submissions from budding no-budget filmmakers until the end of September.

“We’re definitely in the process of recruiting filmmakers and finding the local talent,” says Hooban. “The only requirement is that it’s self-financed. We screen documentaries, feature length films, experimental films, music videos. I love animation. I pretty much take any animation film I get.”

While Hooban’s own filmmaking started this all, with the exception of small projects here and there, Zero Film Festival now takes up all his energy.

“Now this is my work of art at the moment, building the festival up,” says Hooban. “I got the community involved, and a lot of great work. I think it will be great.”

The Zero Film Festival comes to Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St.) August 20. Doors at 7:30 p.m., with films starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the door. For more information, call 718-222-8500.


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