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When the first Dallas VideoFest launched in 1986, it began at a time when film festivals and media conventions weren’t weekly or even a massive industry like today.
A one-day “Video as Creative Medium” event that inspired the four-day VideoFest was just one of two annual media gatherings alongside the Dallas International Film Festival. Now, the Dallas Film Commission lists VideoFest alongside 21 other events such as the EarthXFilm Festival, Black Cinematheque, and the Asian Film Festival of Dallas.
“There was a time when everything we were showing, you couldn’t see anywhere in town,” said VideoFest founder Bart Weiss, who recently announced that this year’s event will be one of the last. The four-day VideoFest which begins Sept. 20 is one of many gatherings in the film community, but the surge of support after the announcement shows how it stands out in Dallas film and media groups.
“I am deeply moved by the number of emails and texts I have received from people,” Weiss said. “Sometimes it’s even hard to watch because it makes me sad and happy from people I haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s very emotional.”
VideoFest aims to celebrate offbeat and interesting visual art works in a variety of mediums. It has also launched several media gatherings, programs and accolades that have become their own annual events, such as the Big D Mobile Phone Fest for Filmmakers, DocuFest and the Ernie Kovacs Award, a career-long honor for innovators. in the media who went to famous names like Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson, founding member of Monty Python John Cleese, strangers with candy and At home with Amy Sedaris. Weiss says all of these events will continue after VideoFest ends.
The annual gathering hosted by the Dallas Video Association aimed to showcase the best of visual art mediums across the evolving media landscape that began in the era of videotapes through to the present era of mobile media streaming at the request.
Independent media have also exploded thanks to the internet, the deep wells of content from streaming services, and handheld filming technology that can be easily stored and transported.
“A lot of what we set out to do was see things that cross the margins, go beyond the first six pages of Netflix to find something more interesting,” Weiss explains. “Right now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and certainly on Criterion Channel, are things that would have been interesting to show or things that we have shown.”
Even though film festivals have grown and become more concentrated, Weiss notes that they were not competitive. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
“Even though we are competing for backers and films, we definitely work together,” Weiss said. “There is no other city in this country that could host a Best Of Fest twice. All of us as programmers and festival directors participate for the right reasons, because we love the job. people who run the festivals here care about the job. “
Dallas VideoFest founder Bart Weiss opens VideoFest 29 in 2016 ahead of silent romantic film screening Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans accompanied by a live score from the Dallas Chamber Symphony Orchestra.
Dallas Video Association
Weiss says it also made more sense to close VideoFest now as it further strengthens its presence and influence. Programming for the final screening festival is still underway for September, but Weiss promises there will be “some really fun stuff” and “not one but several local premieres, with local filmmakers premiering their films.”
“Do we want to fizzle out and become irrelevant? We didn’t want to do this,” Weiss said. “Let’s make a festival where everyone knows it’s the last.”
Weiss says he has “no idea how I’ll feel on October 4 when it’s over,” but he’s grateful for the things he’s done for Dallas, the filmmakers and the public and for his own life. .
“Almost everything that has gone right in my life has come out of this job,” says Weiss. “So much good has happened because of this. I firmly believe that the things you do in life in service to others pay off much better than the things you do for yourself.”
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