Stepping Out

Mtn. View’s first film fest set for later this month

Mountain View Film Festival
Courtesy of the City of Mountain View
The inaugural Mountain View Film Festival is set to begin April 24.

The city of Mountain View’s inaugural film festival is scheduled later this month.

The 2021 Mountain View Film Festival is set for April 24 and 25; it will be online only.

“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a while, and with the pandemic and everyone switching to work-from-home, we’ve noticed a larger audience because you can just watch from home,” said Shonda Ranson, the city’s marketing and public relations manager. “So, we decided that this would be a great atmosphere to launch our film festival because we can get these new, diverse voices to be heard in front of a larger audience that normally wouldn’t participate.”

Awards will be given to a variety of short and feature-length film submissions in any genre. Categories include Best Film, Best Director, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor, Best Sound, Best Music, Best Editor, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Documentary, Best Animation, Best Foreign Language Short, honorary mentions, jury award and audience favorite(s).

The entry deadline was April 8; the winners will be notified by Friday.

Although the festival will be virtual this year, the city plans to make it a hybrid event – in person and online – in coming years, Ranson said.

This year’s theme is “Race, equity and inclusion,” according to organizers.

“In response to some of the very terrible things that happened over the last year, the city council of Mountain View directed staff to be thinking about projects we could do that had themes of diversity and inclusivity,” said Scott Whisler, executive director of the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. “We’ve always tried to have as wide a spectrum as possible in our programs at the center, but we don’t really have much control because we usually don’t produce our own shows. So, when the city specifically told us to aim at race and equity, it was just really great timing, and we jumped at the chance.”

Ranson said she believes film is so influential because it is so accessible.

“There are so many people this year who, because of the pandemic, decided to start making films, and we’re completely on board with this. … If this is something you want to show others, submit it. We’ve had everyone from high school students to professional dancers submit pieces. It’s just so cool, the voices that we’ve been able to hear,” she said.

Award-winning filmmaker, actor and writer Shekhar Bassi, a member of the festival steering committee, will judge the festival remotely from his home in London.

“I think the power of film is above and beyond,” Bassi said. “I wouldn’t be doing it if that wasn’t the case. I think even a bad film says a lot, because having good intentions behind it is what’s important. At the end of the day, what matters is if it speaks to a lot of people and resonates with them.”

Tickets – which include access to the films, audience chat, panel discussions, opening and closing ceremonies, and artists discussions – are $20 for a day pass and $35 for both days.

For tickets and more information, visit filmfreeway.com/MVlFilmFestival

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