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Montana Independent Film Festival (MTIFF)

November 17, 2009 6 comments

This was the third year for this “film festival” and we should have known better and save ourselves the $60 submission fee.
Upon receiving the acceptance letter, we were also informed, that if we are planning to make the journey
to Montana for this film-festival, we should absolutely contact the festival organizers.
I have tried this for over 3 weeks without an email or phone call response. Again, we should have known ….
Because we were planning our trip to other film festivals and needed to arrange the plane tickets accordingly, we purchased the flights to Montana before we got any response from the MTIFF organizers. Unfortunately, the day after I was finally able to get in touch with Mr Gil Claveria who runs the MTIFF as well as another festival (also in 3rd year), called Mockfest.
He was very surprised when I told him that we were planning to attend the festival and he tried by all means to change our mind. However, our tickets were non-refundable and we just couldn’t understand why the film festival founder wouldn’t like us to attend, so we decided to check it out. What a terrible waste of money and time!
The festival was to run September 26th and 27th and we have arrived the day of into a small town of Misoula, Montana.
Earlier during the day, we went on checking the town out and finding out the response of the locals to a festival running in their town.
We have found what we expected; nobody in town ever heard of the festival, there were no posters or other promotional material posted anywhere and our hotel had no idea what we were talking about, when we asked if it would be possible to leave our film postcard in the lobby for the film festival.
Upon trying to check in to the festival, we were told by the cash register attendant, that he was not affiliated with the festival and we better wait. And so we did. Finally, a man in a ponytail showed up, only to escort 3 young kids around the theater.
He didn’t look like he was part of the festival, and definitely didn’t acknowledge us while we were the only ones waiting in the lobby.
So we left and went to grab a lunch. The first screening was supposedly already taking place, but since we didn’t see anyone, didn’t meet anyone, we didn’t bother.
We went back after about 1 hour and finally were able to introduce ourselves to the man in ponytail. He laughed and said he didn’t know who we were. Then he said he was joking. Then he said of course he didn’t have any passes or information for us, but we are welcome to go into the theater and see the movie playing.
The auditorium was deserted. Of course. We stayed and watched the movies, that were not bad and left.
As we did, we met with a friend of ours, also a filmmaker. He was very apologetic about MTIFF saying he had no idea why is nobody there.
The festival organizer and his wife did their best to avoid us the whole weekend. We realized, at this point, that it was all a scam, as some locals in town told us, that the building the festival is taking place in, have been closed for years and not in operation. They had no idea you could go and see a movie there, let alone film festival.
We were finally able to meet the founders the night of the “Awards.”
Surprisingly, the auditorium was half full. We had no idea where these dressed up people came from. Then we found out.
The 3 kids from a day earlier are local “filmmakers”, students at local university and this was their first time they showed at film festival. All their friends showed up to see them receive an “award.” Our film and our friend’s film were “nominated.” I guess, just to make up for our trouble, and since there were no other filmmakers there, why not. I have to say, it meant nothing. The festival also means nothing on IMDb, where their awards and nominations are not recognized.
We met Mr Claveria. He claimed to be terribly sick and asked us to keep our distance. He did play with his little daughter the entire time. We left. Bitter feeling left in our mouths. What a scam! What a waste! And what a joke.
With a little effort, this festival could have audience and appear half way decent. The nearby university, the town of friendly locals are all hungry for any entertainment. The beautiful theater and building that nobody knows it exists just goes to waste.

Final evaluation:
Price: expensive
Perks: none

Media: zero
Professionalism: very poor
Interaction with filmmaker: minimal

Rating on a scale from 1-10: 2 (only because the films we have seen there were all excellent)
Website:
http://www.mtiff.com/

Final thought: I hear Mr Claveria is making a movie, starring his beautiful wife.
I am glad he doesn’t have troubles like the rest of us filmmakers, that is, finding a budget for his
productions…


Please, let me know if reviews of this type are helpful to you.
What other information shall I add?
Shall I be more detailed? Shall I give shoutouts to films that are screened?
Please, leave a comment with your feedback or experience 🙂
Thank you filmmakers. Cheers!

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