6-7-12 UPDATE:Media Bureau Network announces Screening Schedule by Venue, click here for details
Guns and Weed. That's how I kicked off the 4th annual Philadelphia Independent Film Festival in June 2011. Let me back up and get you a little more acquainted with how this came to be. I should also clarify that I did not have a booth at the festival selling Desert Eagles and Trainwreck (google it if you don't get that).
My friend Mark Passio and I have been hosting monthly documentary screenings, immediately followed by discussions, in Philly for the past few years. Because of this we befriended the mastermind behind the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, Ben Barnett. In my never-ending quest to bring activists and independent thinkers together, I ended up through some sort of magic being asked asked if I wanted to submit a film into the festival and host it.
The Philadelphia Independent Film Festival (herein called PIFF), is typically a half week of constant films being screened one right after the other. Independent film makers from all over converge in Philly to share their work. Through our magic, I was given the slot of kicking off the festival.
I wanted to flirt with shock-value, so what better film to pick than Michael Dean's "Guns & Weed: The Road to Freedom." To many critics' disappointment, the film does not advocate ingesting cannabis and going on a shooting spree. Instead it takes a cold hard look at the war on drugs, the war on raw milk (yes it exists), and the dark history behind government gun control and what all the above has led to.
After the film, Michael Dean joined us for our discussion live via Skype, which was awesome. It definitely had a wizard of oz feel to it, but it was pretty amazing to have that happen. The feedback from the audience was great, and seemed to open up the dialogue for rethinking how certain laws impact individual liberty.
This time around, Ben has invited me to be a part of this year's PIFF as well. My friend Fernando Antonio Salguero's group Survive & Thrive was recently featured in a documentary about survivalist groups across the country. So when Ben asked if I had a certain film in mind, I got the greenlight from Fernando, and locked Training for the Apocalypse into the 5th annual PIFF.
In addition, I'm hosting a block of about 5 other films at the festival relating to the current state of the economic and political system. I pre-screened two so far at home and I'd be lying if I didn't say they were slightly depressing, but they were more enlightening than anything. Maybe I'm half joking when I say depressing, but they both take hard looks at things most people tend to ignore, which are unfortunately a huge chunk of "what's wrong" with our current state of affairs.
I'm not only excited, but honored to be a part of it all. I'm not a film maker by any stretch, I've made a handful of youtube videos, and have hosted documentary screenings and led discussions, but that's about it. However, I have a huge level of respect for the independent arts, love movies, and honestly, I just love being a host, so this is right up my alley.
So bookmark www.PhiladelphiaIndependentFilmFestival.com, like them on facebook, mark your calendars for 6/20 - 6/24, and come support independent artists!