the festival and its mission
VISIONFEST: The Other Festival promotes domestic filmmaking. All of the works showcased at VISIONFEST are created by U.S. filmmakers and by production entities that are based solely in the United States. The projects may be shot on international locations and have globally relevant storylines, but their origin must be rooted in the U.S.
VISIONFEST exists to provide an exhibition forum for the American auteur; one that is specialized and focused; one that does not dilute the presence of U.S. films within a sea of international product.
What's new this year?
VISIONFEST remains one of the only "domestic" film festivals in the U.S. and takes great pride in the rich gamut of talent that originates from its vast pool of participating filmmakers. As with each year, VF15 will feature its share of Q&A filmmaker forums, and after-parties... But most importantly, it will bring the best of domestic independent cinema to the forefront of the New York City "indie" scene, by showcasing original, unique works, and "bringing you tomorrow's visionaries today."
There’s an interesting phenomenon that has practically always existed in the way U.S. film critics have rated foreign films. For some odd reason, foreign films have always had a tendency to be more highly regarded as cinematic art than American films, which are too often dismissed as presumptuous works vying for commercial success. But, while commercial success is a necessary outcome for a filmmaker’s plight to stay prolific, it’s also true that most of the commercially successful U.S. filmmakers that come to mind (i.e. Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Martin Scorsese) have all put their signature on films that are gloabally regarded as "works of art."
the festival and its roots
Formerly known as the Guerrilla Film & Video Festival, VISIONFEST was started in 2001 by Guerrilla Filmmaker Magazine co-founders, Bruno Derlin and Mark Doyle. The humbly organized event kept true to its niche-plated moniker with its very conservative budget and grass roots approach. The film festival was predominantly programmed with independent works covered earlier that year on the pages of Guerrilla Filmmaker.
On the evening of August 9, 2001, the lights dimmed inside New York City's Tribeca Film Center and actor-director Burt Young took to the stage to kick off the film festival he personally described as "one from the heart."
The somber 'state of mind' and financial instability that were a prominent thorn of the aftermath of 9/11 also directly affected and caused a premature demise for Guerrilla Filmmaker Magazine. But the guerrilla boys, thanks to the generous support of that year's presenting sponsor, Panasonic, held on tight to their film festival and Tribeca-based screening facility, even adding a second venue, the Tribeca Grand Hotel screening room, to help them unveil their 2002 program, which included the New York premiere of Fits & Starts, a comedic short subject film that would go on to win a Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
By 2003, the Guerrilla Film & Video Festival, in a very ambitious effort to reinvent itself by offering a more mainstream and not necessarily 'very guerrilla' programming structure, adopted its new name, VISIONFEST: The Other Festival, and boarded the legendary Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum for a five-day run in the aircraft carrier's state-of-the-art theater. That year's line-up included a Brian DePalma retrospective that featured New York City's first official 20th anniversary screening of Scarface, several months before Universal reissued the gangster epic in a national theatrical run and prior to the Special Edition DVD release that ensued.
VISIONFEST 03, as it was quickly commonly referred to, also has the distinction of being the maiden platform that launched the highly successful initiative, the FiveXFive 'New York State of Mind' DV Project.
Five up and coming filmmakers were selected by a special festival committee to individually create five, five-minute, digital shorts that were to be produced and completed within a period of five days. The filmmakers were asked to literally draw their film's location setting out of a hat: each would be assigned to shoot in one of the five boroughs of New York. And finally, the completed projects would be screened in a "world premiere" forum, preceding the film festival's awards ceremony, on the fifth and final day of the event. The positive response and coverage achieved by the FiveXFive would ensure that the 'project' would be repeated the following year, again with some very specific guidelines that would promise a challenging task for each of the five filmmakers involved.
VISIONFEST 04 introduced another new addition to the film festival's competitive forums: a feature screenwriting competition. With entries surpassing the 500+ mark, VF04 organizers created an exciting line-up consisting of 52 films that would unspool over a five-day run at New York University's Cantor Film Center. And again, on the fifth and final day of the event, that year's FiveXFive project would have its world premiere.
VF05 brought 'the other festival' back to its downtown home roots: the Tribeca Cinemas, where it would continue to run and where the festival will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary with VISIONFEST 15.