The five-day Anaheim Film Festival & Media Arts Expo opens Oct. 24 at the Ultraluxe Anaheim Cinemas at GardenWalk. It says so on the nonprofit Anaheim Film Arts Society's website. But if we've learned anything about showbiz, it's don't always believe your lying eyes.
No one knows this more than filmmakers who submitted entries to the "inaugural" event. After getting films in before the deadline for the Oct. 24-28 run, they were told by organizers the festival was postponed until November. Later came word it won't roll until the summer of 2013.
The Weekly did not report on this as it was happening because we could not get confirmation from festival officials. Emails were not returned, and a phone call to the Anaheim Film Arts Society was met with a recording explaining the number was no longer in service.
The home page of AnaheimFilmArts.org still claims the festival opens later this month, and the story is mostly the same on the nonprofit's Tumblr page, which includes posts repeating the October dates, festival executive director Jo Moulton being interviewed on KNX News Radio in April about the event and photos from a 2012 Anaheim Film Festival launch party on June 7.
But on the right rail of the Tumblr page is a box holding the film society's Twitter feed, which is topped by this ominous-sounding latest tweet: "Despite the postponement of the Anaheim Film Festival, the Anaheim Film Arts Society will continue." Below that is a tweet with link to a Sept. 17 Facebook message that finally explains it all:
Dear Filmmakers, Staff, Friends of the Festival and Society Members:
Re: Postponement of the Anaheim Film Festival & Media Arts Expo
The Anaheim Film Arts Society, organizer of the Anaheim Film Festival & Media Arts Expo, recently welcomed the entry of Media Works as its major media and marketing sponsor.
However, after much deliberation with Media Works, the Anaheim Film Arts Society has decided that it is in the best interest of the Anaheim Film Festival & Media Arts Expo to postpone the event scheduled for this October until next summer.
We realize this comes with great disappointment and inconvenience for many of you, and for that we humbly apologize.
The Anaheim Film Festival & Media Arts Expo was established with the primary goal of creating a world class festival, not only as an integral part of the cultural and economic fabric of the city of Anaheim, but also as a prime stop in the global circuit for high quality films. This decision allows us to stage the Festival in the high quality level that the filmmakers, festival participants, sponsors, staff, friends of the festival, society members and the host city truly deserve.
Media Works believes that what they bring to the table for the Anaheim Film Festival and Media Arts Expo will not only be of more value, but more impactful as well, if the festival is moved from the scheduled dates of October 24-28 to the summer of 2013.
All films that have been submitted for the scheduled October festival will be carried over for consideration for the summer of 2013 festival. For those who elect to pull out of consideration, full entry fee reimbursements will be made.
For reimbursements, please email: FESTIVAL@ANAHEIMFILMARTS.ORG.
For current updates on the festival status, please log in to our website, WWW.ANAHEIMFILMARTS.ORG.
Jo Moulton Executive Director, Anaheim Film Festival & Media Arts Expo
So, to sum up, the event was postponed so organizers can ensure it will be a high quality event. Submissions received for October can be carried over for next summer or filmmakers can opt out and get a refund. And the executive director advises you to check AnaheimFilmArts.org for updates--the same site that still claims the fest opens at the end of this month and has a phone number that has been disconnected. Got it.
By the way, you might recognize that name as Moulton was also the executive director of the Anaheim International Film Festival, which opened to much fanfare in October 2010 at UltraLuxe with promises of more years to come.
"Our team has worked very hard to deliver a world-class film program that will establish the AIFF as a valuable platform for emerging filmmakers and long-term addition to the festival circuit," Sinan Kanatsiz, the festival's chairman, told a preview party crowd at GardenWalk before the October 2010 run.
Heading that team was Moulton, and UltraLuxe brass was among the co-sponsors/-founders. A gala awards night in a lavish ballroom of Disney's Grand Californian hotel to close the inaugural AIFF had to be one of Anaheim's premiere social events of 2010.
However, by the following year, UltraLuxe officials disclosed that instead of having its screens taken over for a designated period of consecutive days in October--which had previously been heralded as the best time of year to hold a festival--worthy indie films would be shuffled in with the moviehouse's mainstream fare throughout the year to create a sort of floating festival. Your humble observer, who tries to catch a movie at UltraLuxe at least weekly, pretty much lost track of the so-called festival after that. Better to catch Thor in a shaky D-Box seat.
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It's pretty amazing because a previous check of the Anaheim Film Society site showed 2012 screenings, seminars and other events broken down to specific dates, times and venues. So you know much planning had gone into a re-boot this month.
But you should also know that such a re-branding is not unprecedented when it comes to film festivals in Orange County. Nor does it necessarily spell doom. The Newport Beach International Film Festival rolled for four years before crashing and burning in 1999, regrouping with some of the same folks in key roles and relaunching in 2002 as the Newport Beach Film Festival. The NBFF is now OC's longest-running and most-successful film festival, and its many parties--especially the opening and closing--are highly anticipated on the social circuit.
So, see you next summer, AFF. (Fingers crossed.)