OVFF is dedicated to screening full-length, short and animated films that embody the spirit, energy and diversity of Venice, CA – an epicenter for LA artists and filmmakers who continue to pave the way toward expanding the language of underground, alternative cinema. The OTHER VENICE FILM FESTIVAL bridges the community of Venice and that of greater LA together in a wild, exciting, fun-filled weekend of movies, music and mayhem.
To find out more about this festival we interviewed two of the festival organizers, Gary Sllenberg and AJ Peralta.
Gary Ellenberg – Festival Co-Founder, Programming Director Aside from working on the festival, he currently shoots and edits webcasts for Fox All-Access, including artists Chris Brown, Nelly Furtado, Good Charlotte, Sean Paul and Train. He has directed music videos for Soccermom and Sugar Bitch. Gary also directs a vast array of corporate videos. Clients include Warner Bros. Music and Nestle Crunch Hot Shots basketball camp with Shaquille O’Neal. Gary received his B.A. in drama at the University of California at Berkeley and earned his MA in Directing at the American Film Institute. His thesis film NO QUARTER competed in over 20 national and international film festivals. Gary also directed the feature GRINDERS as well as TED, an explosive comedy about the Unabomber. TED garnered six festival awards including Audience Choice at the San Francisco Indie Film Festival. Go to Gary’s website at www.itchyyellowhouse.com.
AJ Peralta – Festival Co-Founder – A Los Angeles native, AJ Peralta is an entrepreneur and creative executive for entertainment and technology companies. As a consultant, AJ has been working with clients including Coca-Cola, FuseTV, Nokia, Motorola, Mattel, and Ogilvy on a range of strategic initiatives from game development to youth branding programs. Prior, AJ was President of Digital Brandcasting, Inc., a management company with clients including pop icons such as Will Smith, Savage Garden, Deftones, Trisha Yearwood, and Live. AJ also co-founded Green Galactic, Inc., a bi-coastal youth marketing company, and while living in Japan, he co-founded Lamuz, Inc., a leading commercial media production and software publishing company.
Cinema Without Borders: Please tell us about the history of the Other Venice Film Festival.
AJ Peralta: The OVFF started four years ago by friends who live in the Venice area and have a love for film. Venice is an area, historically, where film found its roots in Los Angeles – before there ever was a Hollywood. And even today, Venice is full of creative artists and working industry professionals who love the business but opt for the more relaxed style of the beach. The film festival is a chance to tap into this energy and celebrate it. That it’s grown so quickly as a festival in light of all the other local festivals (with more glam, hype or celebrities) is a testament to the local community.
CWB: Venice as beach city has its own character and soul, does the Other Venice Film Festival follows the characteristic of the city?
AJ: In many ways, yes. Great filmmaking is about telling a simple story in a new way or expressing a new idea in some fantastic manner. This is a lot like Venice, itself.
CWB: Does Experimental Cinema has a place in the festival? The Other Venice Film Festival seem to be a supporter of “the other cinema”? Is this true and if so, what is your interpretation of the other cinema?
AJ: Well “The Other” in our name originally comes from the fact that there is already a Venice Film Festival – in Italy, the original festival. So our name is just a play on that. We thought about calling it the Venice Beach Film Festival (and we have this name tied up already!) but “The Other” also pays homage to the independent spirit that makes film great. So yes, each year we feature experimental and avante garde films, among many others.
CWB: Tell us about the kind of the crowd attending the festival.
AJ: We get a pretty diverse crowd actually. Because of the range in programming, each screening often draws a very different crowd from another. Of course, there are a lot of locals – but really this includes all of Los Angeles. Mostly, it’s 20 and 30 somethings, young professionals with an indie streak for art and creativity.
CWB: What are the events of the 2007 the Other Venice Film Festival?
Gary Ellenberg: The 2007 OVFF is proud to present the work of more than 90 filmmakers (up from 75 last year, 40 in 2005 and 17 in the inaugural 2004
season), including 60 world premieres – more than ever before. Please see the complete schedule of film screening events, art show, live music and parties at www.othervenicefilmfest.com.
Some non-film screening events of note this year include:
“From Under My Bed,” an exhibition or artworks by long-time Venice local, actress and artist Karen Landry-Mulkey makes its debut on OVFF’s opening night, March 15, and will be up through April 15 at the Electric Lodge.
OVFF is pleased to present its first-ever live staged reading of the screenplay “Riding The Pine” – a coming-of-age comedy about a guy who fails in sports, but succeeds in life and love with humor on his side — at 4 pm on Sunday, March 18. Participating actors include Steven Weber in the leading role along with Camryn Mainheim, Chris Mulkey, Lee Arenberg, Ben Parrillo, Will Wallace, Mike Wiles, Chris Leary, Karen Landry-Mulkey, Ameila Mulkey, Elizabeth Mulkey and Jessie Gilbert.
CWB: Do you expect any guest filmmakers attending the festival?
Gary: We expect the majority of filmmakers showcasing their work to attend this year’s OVFF. A Q&A; with the filmmakers follows each screening event. We also have a very talented group of actors participating in our first live staged reading of the screenplay RIDING THE PINE at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 18 – and many of them have made their own indy films. For instance, Steven Weber of TV’s “Studio 60” and “Wings” will be reading the lead role on Sunday in addition to having his short film “Embrasse” participate in our opening night Short Film Section One on Thursday, March 15. There may also be a surprise filmmaker guest at the closing Abbot Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 18 – to be announced.
CWB: Do you show any movies from the international cinema at the Other Venice Film Festival?
Gary: Yes, definitely, and it’s getting stronger each year. In fact, this is the best and most diverse collection of films we’ve ever presented. Half of our participating filmmakers live west of the 405, and the others hail from as far and wide as Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Korea, Poland, across the U.S. and even the Valley.
CWB: Are there any awards given away to the best movies participating in the festival?
Gary: Closing out the OVFF is its annual Abbot Awards Ceremony (named in honor of Venice, CA’s founding father, Abbot Kinney) at the Electric Lodge from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, which is FREE and open to the public. For the first time ever, an Abbot Award will be presented for the most excellent documentary short and feature, alongside the established Abbot Awards — most excellent overall short and feature; and Audience Choice awards for short, feature and music video. Local Venice alt rock band The Modeens (www.TheModeens.com) will perform a live set of music during cocktail hour from 6-7 p.m. before the awards ceremony starts at 7 p.m.
CWB: What are your future plans and dreams for the Other Venice Film Festival?
AJ: We are amazed that we are able to pull it off each year as a volunteer run annual community event. The festival is growing very quickly, nearly doubling in size each of the last four years. I think our short term dream is to be able to keep doing this and having the community come out and support us each year. We have been getting a fair amount of favorable recognition as being a really different festival from all the rest of what’s out there. We think this has been drawing better and better talent each year. This is our goal – to keep drawing the best talent – like making cognac from wine (then drinking it!).
CWB: Thank you for your time.