Last week I made the trip to Washington DC for Toll Booth’s US premiere at DC Independent Film Festival. This the capital’s longest running film festival, and was a friendly, fun and inspiring experience.
Toll Booth screened on Saturday night in their Chills and Thrills section alongside some other darkly funny thrillers and horrors. I was intrigued by how an American audience would react to my film, especially with the northern British humour and surreal moments. Thankfully the reception was better than I could have hoped for with people laughing at all the right moments.
The festival itself was an absolute blast, taking place over two historic and beautiful venues in downtown, and featuring an outstanding range of shorts and features from across the globe. It was a real privilege to screen alongside, and meet such talented filmmakers, which included BAFTA winners and an Oscar nominee.
The collaborative atmosphere was one of the stand-outs of the festival, which included a wide range of seminars, lectures, networking, and social events including a bottomless brunch. DCIFF has created an environment where people get to know each other pretty well throughout the festival. At some festivals the networking can feel forced and a little disingenuous, but not here. Their ethos is to encourage relationships between fellow filmmakers. I got to know loads of talented and interesting filmmakers from across the world which I’ll definitely stay in touch with in the future.
A high point was the screening of Daniel McCabe’s This is Congo – an immersive and shocking documentary about the devastating civil war. This went on to win Best of the Fest at the awards ceremony.
DCIFF is a fantastic festival I’d highly recommend for any independent filmmaker. I left DC enthused to develop my short animation Black Lake, and to get back to my draft of the feature version of Toll Booth.
Thanks to everyone who helped put on the festival.