By Emily Rust
Starting a film festival wasn’t in Dani Weinberg’s plans for post-grad life. It was a dream for later on.
But her plans changed after she attended a friend’s graduation at the Art Institute of Washington where Mark Ruppert the founder of the 48 Hour Film Project spoke.
“He just inspired me because he just up and started the festival. I just never thought it was something maybe I could do, until I heard him speak.” Weinberg says.
Weinberg is in her sixth year as director and founder of the Clifton Film Fest, which began in a small park in Clifton with 200 attendees. Now the festival has outgrown the park and moved on to Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.
Films are still shown outdoors just as they were when the festival started, giving the festival a “summer block party feel.” This year’s festival features more than 20 different original films.
The festival focuses on short films (entries must be under 10 minutes) and promotes independent filmmaking. Most filmmakers are from Virginia, but this year’s films will include entries from Australia, France, England and South America.
Although the festival has “always been for the people,” as the festival has evolved, filmmakers have themselves become the stars.
Filmmakers are split into two categories: under 19 and 19-plus. During the festival, filmmakers are given the star treatment with red-carpet interviews and a special “VIP” room, encouraging collaboration.
“There’s all these websites and YouTube to show your work now. But I think it’s cool to be able show your video in public and see the reaction rather than just comments or likes,” Weinberg says. “You get to see what people think of your film and get that instant gratification. If everyone’s laughing, you get to see them laughing at the parts you want them to laugh at.”
Two filmmakers who are returning this year are Dillon Meyer and Seth Scofield.
Meyer, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, is entering his first “real” film outside of college titled “Cold Cuts,” about two veteran mobsters who are going out to lunch one day to the same restaurant that they always bring hits, when one of them discovers that the other one’s intentions are a little bit more than just a friendly lunch.
The narrative for “Cold Cuts” was inspired by Martin Scorsese films, of whom Meyer says, the writer is a big fan. This year will be the Clifton native’s fourth time entering the festival.
Another returner, Scofield, was inspired by his love of cooking and Julia Child when creating his film “Cooking with Jacqueline,” a parody of the television show “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.”
As a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Scofield has always loved the arts, which attracted him to the festival.
“It’s a really art centered environment,” Scofield says. “It’s awesome to have something so close that has so much culture in it.”
During the festival, judges including freelance producers, videographers and film enthusiasts, will announce festival winners. Live music from “Little Red and the Renegades” in conjunction with Workhouse’s “Mt. Vernon Nights,” along with a snow cone and barbecue truck will entertain visitors before the evening showings begin.
Clifton Film Fest
Workhouse Arts Center
9601 Ox Road
Saturday, July 19
4 p.m. Day Showing, 7 p.m. Evening Showing