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Official Rejection (2009)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Documentary Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Release Date: April 4th, 2009 (Phoenix Film Festival) MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Paul Osborne Actors: Scott Storm, Kevin Smith, Andy Dick, Jenna Fischer, Traci Lords, Troy Duffy, Bryan Singer, Lloyd Kaufman, Jennifer Tilly

A

nyone interested in Independent Cinema must see this film. “Official Rejection” sheds some much needed light on the trials and tribulations of getting an indie film into festivals. Through a documentary that is at once hilarious, disconsolate, heartbreaking, infuriating, uplifting, and eye-opening, it’s evident that rejection is a commonplace piece of the filmmaking process – and can never stop the truly determined.

“Official Rejection” begins with the ambitions of filmmakers Scott Storm, Paul Osborne, and Brian Osborne getting their independent film “Ten ‘Til Noon” approved for premiering at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. But upon its rejection, the trio begins searching for an alternate route to success. Falling back on the “anti-Sundance” festival Slamdance, and finding denial there as well, the persistent group embarks on a tumultuous quest to discover the painful truths about the state of independent film, the festivals that claim to cater towards these movies, those that actually do, and the upsets and triumphs of both their own experiences and the multitude of filmmakers that suffer the same daunting adversity.

“Official Rejection” meticulously covers the fundamentals of traveling the film festival circuit with an effective blend of humor and tragedy. From festival basics to exorbitant entry fees that surpass the budgets of the movies themselves, to the evils of the biggest events and praise for the most hospitable, the film specializes in demonstrating the hardships and victories behind bringing to the big screen the very flicks enthusiasts have lined up to see. What a perfect movie to see at a film festival. But its success at festivals with a very specialized audience questions whether a similar reaction would be possible in the wide release theatrical environment.

It encompasses the abstruse areas of submitting films to various movie “tradeshows,” such as the importance of a premiere, critics and publicity, bribing festival programmers, substandard events, managing expectations, the general overabundance of independent films (Sundance receives over 2000 entries for their feature competition, of which only 16 slots are available), and the objectionable control studios and sponsors have over the films that play at the largest so-called “Indie” fests. With over 100 hours of footage, perhaps its only fault is that an excess of material is apparent. Delving into the toll on family life, the quality of swag, or the significance of Q & A sessions may be relevant, but adds to the running time and aren’t nearly as impressive as the numerous celebrity interviews or the startling horrors of the pitifully conducted Chicago Indiefest.

“Official Rejection” is unquestionably entertaining, particularly for anyone familiar with, interested in, or ready to enter the inner-workings of film festivals. It revels in its ability to mock several of the challenges that are clearly faced by the very venues showcasing this feature. This does not omit the Phoenix Film Festival, despite the overly positive attitude it expresses towards one of the talents’ more enjoyable screening environments.

– The Massie Twins

 



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