From Westport to Bridgeport ... and the World: Festival showcases youth films
Now in its ninth year, the Westport Youth Film Festival has expanded to include student films from all over the state and even some entries from overseas.
When the Community Theatre in Fairfield closed last year, the festival was left without a home base, but after checking out several sites, the group zeroed in on the recently restored Bijou Theatre in downtown Bridgeport.
The daylong event will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 2.
Dozens of short films will be screened in blocks throughout the morning and afternoon.
Prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges at the end of the day (and audience awards will be presented as well).
More InformationWESTPORT YOUTH FILM FEST Saturday, June 2: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Bijou Theatre, 275 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport $25 for adult passes, $10 for student day passes Info: 203-332-3228 / www.wyff.net or www.thebijoutheatre.com
"The festival is not just about Westport and Weston," coordinator Evan Neidich said last week.
"Filmmakers come from all over Fairfield County and part of the festival's mission is to bring people together. When we saw the Bijou, the whole board fell in love with it," she added of holding the festival in Bridgeport.
"I'm from Bridgeport. I grew up in the North End, so what they are doing there is very inspiring to me," the Norwalk resident said of the revival of the Bijou and the opening of many new restaurants and shops in the surrounding area.
The festival decided to test the waters in Bridgeport last winter by hosting a benefit battle of the bands at the Two Boots restaurant a few doors down.
"There was some concern. Are we not going to get people to come to Bridgeport? Well, we filled Two Boots," Neidich recalled.
Although Neidich is the full-time adult coordinator of the festival, she stressed the fact that the event is run by students who do everything from designing the posters and promotional materials to writing the press releases to planning the professional panel discussions.
"I am really impressed by what they can do," she said of the students. "To me, my job is just about guiding them."
The festival will consist of 75 films chosen from more than 200 submissions.
"We've started to receive submissions from all over the world," Neidich said. "One of my secret favorites is from Copenhagen. The way that word of the festival has spread is really amazing."
The coordinator said that small digital cameras have made filmmaking much more widely accessible than it was a decade ago and the Internet has made it possible for word of a festival to spread far beyond its home territory.
"We do use Twitter and people can follow the festival on our Facebook page. After the festival is over, we'll post the winning films on YouTube," she said.
The Bijou will also host a special program in the fall where all of the prize-winners will be shown.
Saturday, June 2: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Bijou Theatre, 275 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport
$25 for adult passes, $10 for student day passes