2011 Kansas City Film Fest preview

Stephanie Hughes

And ACTION! This week, April 6-10, the Kansas City Filmmaker’s Jubilee is rolling out the red carpet to present its annual Kansas City Film Fest.

For five days, more than 135 films will be screened across four theatres, while a lengthy list of visiting and local artists will converge on KC to participate in workshops, panels, parties and screenings.

At the end of the fest, some very hard working, up-and-coming filmmakers will walk away with not only bragging rights but cash prizes, too.

UMKC has had a long history with the KC Film Fest since its inception in 1997.

When Jubilee founder Fred Andrews noticed Kansas City’s burgeoning community of avid filmmakers, he enlisted the help of UMKC, along with the Kansas City Art Institute, the Film Society of Kansas City and the Independent Film Coalition to create a festival that would be playfully competitive, entertaining and educational for these passionate filmmakers.

The first film fest was held in Royall Hall, and about 10 films were screened.

Since then, the festival has been steadily growing.

Last June, the first of more than 300 submissions of short films, documentaries, feature and experimental films began streaming in to the industry professionals who comprise Jubilee’s advisory board.

One of those board members, Kevin Mullin, Instructor and Studio Engineer and all around “go-to-guy” in UMKC’s Film and Media department will be an integral part of the festival.

Mullin most looks forward to seeing the films of the UMKC alumni whom he’s worked with in the past, such as Todd Norris, Justin Kerfeld and Albert Witfong.

Area native and Midwestern filmmaker Amy Unell will be screening the premiere of her documentary film “Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buelher Story.”

Based on the inspirational story of one man who helped integrate college sports, the documentary was a project that she and her film students from Duke University collaborated on. There is a lot of energy and electricity surrounding her film—an exhilarating thought when one considers that last year’s film fest premiered “Winter’s Bone,” which went on to receive several Oscar nods including the nomination for Best Picture.

In addition to the screenings, many creative minds and industry professionals bestow upon KC their experiences, challenges, triumphs and wisdom through workshops, seminars and guest panels.

“[The fest] is really geared up toward being a service to actual filmmakers, particularly students,” said Associate Professor Dr. Tom Poe from UMKC’s Film and Media department. “It’s about a week equivalent to film school.”

Dr. Poe fondly remembers that first afternoon in Royall Hall, as he’s been involved with the film fest ever since.

These days, he commends the fest for its unique and educational value available to anyone who is passionate about filmmaking.

As one of campus’ favorite film critics himself, Dr. Poe is looking forward to hearing Elivs Mitchell, a past film critic for the New York Times, speak. He will be among the “coolest and hippest” that will be at this years’ festival, not to mention actor Michael Bhien-the actor that saved Sarah Connor from the Terminator back in 1984.

Something that’s new this year is a partnership with AMC Theatres.

Many workshops are free with a valid student ID. Tickets for individual films are generally $10, but economy passes can also be purchased. Volunteers are also needed.

More information on how to purchase tickets or how to volunteer can be found on www.KCfilmfest.org.

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