The second edition of Buffalo Dreams fantastic FIlm Festival - following three years of Buffao Screams Horror Film Festivals - ran from Friday, Nov. 7th - Thursday, Nov. 13th at the Eastern Hills Cinema in the Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville. Thechange in venue was a last minute switch at the request of Dipson Theatres, but didn't seem to have a negative effect on atendance. In fac, this was our most successful festival yet, even with my partner Chris Scioli and I each checking into the ER in the days leading upto the event, and Chris missing the last day for necessary surgery. After five years of grueling work, this seemed to be our turnaround year.
Our premiere of the locally produced film THE ROMANS was a key part of that success, and not just because it sold out and required us to schedule a second festival at the end of the week. Many loals consider Buffalo Dreams a rebranded Buffalo Screams; it's not. It's an entirely new venture, with a different partnership. Buffalo Screams is dead, long live Buffalo Dreams. Because of this misperception, a lot of people assume we're "just a horror festival." We're not. THE ROMANS is a crime drama, and we also screened a spaghetti western, 6 BULETS TO HELL, a drama, SCOPE OF PRACTICE, a romantic comedy, FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS DATE FRIENDS, a comed drama, B.O.Y.D., a revenge thriller, JULIA, the science fiction flavored CHANNELING. The highpoint was a screening of the Mexican SF thriller EL INCIDENTE from filmmaker Isaac Ezban. ARMY OF FRANKENSTEINS was a fantasy/adventure. We still showed some great horror films, and wll cotinue to do so: THE DROWNSMAN, ATHENA and THE SHOWER are prime examples.
Our expanded program led to an unprecedented amount of coverage in our local daily newspaper, As always, we supported local films and local filmmakers, and this year we saw a bit of a sea change in that front as well: some of the local filmmakers actually turned out to watch eaxch others' films, and those of our visiting filmmakers. Culturally speaking, this was important to us. Our visiting filmmakers always provide the spine of the festival, bringing real spirit and deotion to the proceedings, and it was great to see some of the local filmmakers beyond or die hard suppoters taking advantage of the chance to iteract with filmmakers who are clearly on the move. Attendance for the local films was solid, especially for Ken Cosentino's zombie feature WITHIN. We value the importance of filmmaker Q&As and are grateful to every filmmaker who attended the fest, be it from out of town or right down to the road. And jusdging by the response we received from filmmakers who have been traveling around the country (and the world), we're doing something right. Our submissions for this year nearly doubled from last year, and the number of original screenplays we received quadrupled.
Every year, we face a new challenge atour awards presentation. This time, it was discovering way too late that the front of the theater was so dark our presenters needed phones/flashlight to read the names of nominees and winners! We presented special awards to City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown (Local Service), J. Garrett Vorreuter (Local Hero), Isaac Ezban (George Pal Visionary Award), Aceifer Genovese (Indie Genre Spirit Award), and Lynne Hansen and Hope Muehlbauer (Filmmakers to Watch). Mayor Brown also attended the premiere of THE ROMANS, and asked questions at he Q&A.
Special thanks to Buffalo-Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark, Bufalo-Niagara Film Office Director of Operations Rich Wall, John Discillo of WBBZ/Off Beat Cinema, Paige Davis from Alternative Cinema, Kim Piazza, Dave and Buster's, Mike Clement and Bryan Spokane at Dispon Theatres, the staff of the Eastern Hills Cinema, and all our volunteers for pulling together to make this all work on a tight budget. We now have a solid foundation to make next year's festival even better! Submissions for 2015 will open soon, and we encourage filmmakers to take advantage of our Early Bird Deadline.
Some choice comments I heard:
"Jon Cesar may have given the best performance I've ever seen from a Buffalo actor" (for THE ROMANS)
"(ELIZABETH BATHORY) was the first local horror film I've seen that could go on to be something somewhere else."
"THE DROWNSMAN was one of the best horror films you've ever shown."
"THAT was a MOVIE!" (EL INCIDENTE)
"I'm really impressed by the programming."
"CHANNELING made my Ten Best list."