VACAVILLE — The Vacaville International Film Festival returns to Brenden Theatres next week for its fourth straight year and the showcase/competition highlighting independent films from around the globe continues to grow.
Its beginnings were humble, as Realtor/actor/writer/producer/co-founder Jim Meyer explained.
“The whole idea of the Vacaville International Film Festival was a vehicle for me to show off my own stuff, but it has evolved and exploded,” Meyer said. “We are trying to double the size of the attendance from last year.”
There’s a few changes from last year’s event, including the way that filmmakers submitted their works. While in the past they relied on the U.S. Postal Service and Facebook, this year they partnered with Withoutabox.com, which helps link filmmakers with film festivals. Entries came from around the world.
“We had 70 or 80 submissions, everywhere from 2 minutes to 30 minutes long,” Meyer said. “We have one from Australia, one from Ireland, there’s one from Italy that’s a classic horror film – almost a Hitchcock-type film – and then a bunch from the United States.”
A committee of volunteers review the submissions and rates them using a set criteria, including the quality of the acting and directing. The short version of this process Meyer described as “we get together and meet, argue and finally decide.” In addition to a student discount, they offered a special exemption to Iranian filmmakers.
“We had an embargo discount because there is an embargo in place against Iran. They asked if they could apply without sending an entry fee, so we waived it. They sent us a stack of 10 DVDs and two of those are in the festival,” Meyer said. “There are probably not too many film festivals showing movies from Iran.”
The total number of films screened this year will be 22, nearly double the 12 from 2011. The categories include drama, comedy, animation, musical, documentary, action/thriller and sci-fi/horror. While many of the entrants speak foreign languages and have customs unfamiliar to most Americans, some are very familiar to those living in this neck of the woods.
“We have one from Fairfield that was filmed near Allan Witt Park about lifeguards that is very funny, so we have local stuff and we go all the way to Iran,” Meyer said.
Since nearly doubling the amount of movies available, the festival will this year have two theaters at Brenden available for theatergoers.
“A program with times and theaters will be available so you will have to choose the ones you want to watch and you can go back and forth,” Meyer said. “We are going to be on one side of the theater that night because at midnight “The Hobbit” comes out and they will be on the other side – that was done on purpose.”
A panel of six judges, who are all in the film industry, will judge the films and some filmmaker will be awarded the Vacci. Despite the festival’s origins, Meyer himself does not have a film in the running. One he is still working on, “The Predatory Lender,” about a guy who sells houses, refinances them and kills people, may be ready for next year’s event.
While the event is technically a competition, in the end, win or lose, satisfaction reigns.
‘The best part of it is all the heartache and suffering and arguing we do picking the movies beforehand, and then watching the audience enjoying the films and the people who worked so hard on them getting recognized,” Meyer said. “That makes it all worth it.”
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected]
Vacaville International Film Festival