Last year, the first-ever Falls Church Film Festival at the State Theatre was a showcase for some locally-produced material. Next month, in only its second year, it will progress to a competition drawing some serious amateur talent from across the globe.
This year’s festival gala will be on Tuesday, Nov. 13, and the deadline for entries, into six competitive film categories, is Oct. 27, although that might slip a few days. But the eight judges will need to have done their work on all entries prior to Nov. 2, which is when non-winning submissions will be shown during the monthly “First Friday” festivities.
On Nov. 13, the giant screen at the State Theatre will again be provided for the second-annual public event, this time to showcase the winners in each of the six categories, including fiction, documentary, student, horror, animation and music video.
“Our entries so far run the gamut from very professional and polished to idea-driven, low-tech backyard productions,” said Simon Van Steyn, a Falls Church native and video production professional who has taken over as the lead organizer for the event.
“We want this to be a fun and entertaining experience, as opposed to rigorous or stressful, even though it is a competition,” Van Steyn, who took over for Dave Eckert, said. “It is designed to be accessible to the average person.” Eckert, the ubiquitous community organizing presence in Falls Church for almost two decades, moved out of the area last year, handing the film festival organizing duties over to the young and able Van Steyn. A graduate of George Mason University, Van Steyn grew up in Falls Church and graduated from its George Mason High School in 1997. He is a former employee of the News-Press.
Van Steyn said the film festival “will help put Falls Church on the map as an arts-friendly community.” By accepting entries from outside the area, he said, local artists and citizens gain the benefit from a lot of “other visions” that “make us richer.” Entries so far have come from as far away as Brazil and England, but there are also several from Falls Church.
The student category is of particular interest to Van Steyn. “It is very heartening for us to see students and their parents latch onto this opportunity. It gives students a potential launch pad and brings them into touch with the larger community.”
Student entries are accepted from high school students and college undergraduates.
Van Steyn cited the collaboration that the Falls Church-based Creative Cauldron arts education non-profit offered the film festival. Among the Creative Cauldron’s programs this year has been a “film camp,” and all the students enrolled in it worked together on a collective entry.
Falls Church Arts, another new City of Falls Church non-profit entity promoting the arts, has also played a major role in promoting the film festival, he said, providing leadership resources and laying the groundwork for promoting the festival and other artistic endeavors in the City.
Fiction entries, which include comedy, drama and science fiction, can run up to 30 minutes, as can documentaries and entries in the horror and thriller category. Student entries can be up to 20 minutes in length, animation up to 10 minutes and music videos up to six minutes.
The gala on Nov. 13 will begin at 7 p.m., with all the winning entries being played on the big screen. Given the time limits on each category, the evening will not run much over three hours, maximum. A cash bar and the standard State Theatre dining menu will be available to all attendees.
On Nov. 2, on “First Friday,” the non-winning entries will be shown at two venues, the Falls Church Art and Frame shop at 111 W. Broad and the F. A. McGonegal showroom at 940 Park Avenue.
Sponsors of the event are the Falls Church Arts, F. A. McGonegal, the Falls Church News-Press, Ventures in Video, Aspect Media, Merelyn Kaye, Realtor, Art and Frame of Falls Church, Arlington Motorcar Service and American Coatings and Caulking, Inc.
More information on the Falls Church Film Festival is available on line at www.fallschurchfilmfest.com .