The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival was a divine dream that I don’t think we’ve quite woken up from yet. The Festival staff, led exceptionally well by Susan Gorrell (which reflects why they are one of the "Top 25 Film Festivals in the World" by MovieMaker Magazine) was incredibly helpful at every turn.
At most film festivals, after the first couple of days of screenings it’s the word-of-mouth about films that matters most. Fortunately for us word spread about Mandorla and we had a packed house for our prime-time Saturday screening that included Liz Gilman, Executive Producer from Produce Iowa (the state’s film office), a number of JDIFF’s board of directors such as Michael Coty (festival co-founder) Peter Tinsman, Brian Cooper who is also the Executive Editor of Dubuque’s newspaper, the Telegraph Herald, (see an article mentioning Mandorla) and a lot of other great, warm-hearted people we connected with over the festival, Patrick Sterenchuk, Andy Wilberding and family, and others like my old, life-long friend, Lyle Friesenhahn and his family.
The result was a very engaged audience that followed every nuance and detail on the screen that Mandorla offered. At the end they all applauded and stayed to ask very thoughtful questions. Afterward, one person said he felt that we made the film for him. At the next screening another person said "This was the story of my life. Of course it's his (Ernesto's) life but I never had the words to express it as beautifully as it is on the screen." To have a film connect with an audience like this, this is the experience every filmmaker dreams of. So it is truly a dream come true.
We felt light as air at the festival's grand party that night, and met more great people. This included the mayor and his delightful wife, Deborah, and their friends. What a beautiful, warm hearted big little town Dubuque is, with three universities!
The next morning a Producer’s Rep. from Los Angeles (invited to the festival to host a panel) invited me to breakfast to talk about representing Mandorla to distributors. We had a good chat on the creative and business sides of things. Will keep you posted. Meanwhile, interest in Mandorla continues to grow.
Before we arrived at the festival, we had the feeling that Dubuque and Iowa might play a role in our next film. We sensed the Universe put us here for that, so our plan to spend one extra day for location scouting quickly expanded to two fantastic full days. More festival board members came to help us: Theresa Heim, Tim Conlon, Eric Lucy, and Jim Barefoot, also with the Dubuque Film Office, along with festival volunteer and troubadour Andy Wilburding and Tim Meyer, our perfectly cool and laidback wheelman.
The good folks at DreamCatcher Productions (Joe, Suzie, Tim, and Jackson) gave us a solid perspective on shooting locally Be sure to check out the trailer they made for the Julien Dubuque.
It was then off to Chicago for a couple of days, which was a bit chilly but a lot of fun. As luck would have it, we had a special, private tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first private home commission, “Winslow House,” which is stunning. Most filmmakers are, for some reason, huge fans of architecture and I am no exception. Thank you to Winslow descendent Marion O’Duffy and especially Peter Walker, who grew up in this extraordinary house, which he has placed on the market. My hope is that its heritage will be preserved.
Before flying out of Chicago, the Theosophical Society in America, in Wheaton, IL, was kind enough to let us stop by and speak at length about our research interests regarding our next film. It was that kind of connection and talk that let’s you know you are in the right place at the right time talking to the right people.
So after a break in Lyon, France, the adventure continues, for Mandorla, and the next film!!
P.S. Here in Lyon, it was relaxing to hang-up the filmmaker badge for a while, take some pics of what is old (15th Century, St. Jean, Vieux Lyon) and a short walk away to the new (21st Century, Confluence), and explore how the two might go together... in Photoshop.
I know. Photoshop. It's one way to relax. Maybe a means to meditate on the next film. But can you spot the Julien Dubuque Filmmaker badge in the collage bellow? The Mandorla is pretty easy. ;)
Hope this finds you all well, wherever you are in the world.