at the festival

I left for Martha’s Vineyard trying to release myself of any expectation, other than being fully present in the experience and engaging with as many people as possible about my film, ALASKALAND. While I feel successful about the latter, i think I was only truly present during the second half of the festival.

Here I was staying in a house that was just yards away from the beach. Fresh seafood vendors, and homemade ice cream and donut shops lined the cobblestone pathways. One morning, I actually dipped my feet in the vast, clear blue ocean, the only sounds being the peaceful sway of trees and birds laughing with one another. Yes, my body was in paradise, but my mind was still teetering in unmanaged expectations of the festival.

The first day I was in Martha’s Vineyard, my mind was stuck in thoughts and hopes of having this festival be an experience that will, in some way, advance my film professionally. But advancement looked very narrow to me at that time. It wasn’t until the day of my screening, when I met two fabulous women, that I was jolted back into a presentness that had only briefly escaped me.

My conversation with these two women started with me trying to help them with their camera, and it blossomed into a weekend of laughter, conversations and, hopefully, a budding friendship. Yes, they were there to watch my film and we had great conversations about it, but I like to think that we connected on a more personable level as well. My interaction with these phenomenal women showed me the joy that comes from being present, as well as the true gift that film festivals can provide, no matter how big or small: human connection. Once I lessened the grasp of professional expectation, I was truly able to be myself and allow people to connect with me as a human being. There were people who wanted to see my film, solely because they connected with my personality, far beyond that of a filmmaker. This experience reminded me of why I love to teach: because I get to be grounded in a level of reality that can be forgotten amid the hustle of an artist.

Now, I am by no means being naive to the professional possibilities and opportunities that festivals can provide. But I do think that if we focus solely on that element we risk losing connection to a realness that can be quite revitalizing, and probably just as important (and maybe even more so) than the professional opportunity we might solely be seeking.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to share my film with people, for the conversations and late-night chats I had with some of the most inspiring women I’ve met in a while, for the great films I watched, and for the ability to be present in this next leg of the ALASKALAND journey.

Check out even more pics from the event on the ALASKALAND facebook page. The film’s website (www.alaskalandmovie.com) will be updated with future screening dates in the near future.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “at the festival

  1. Kia

    Hey Chinonye! Thoughtful blog post. Staying grounded is essential for all artists.

    • Thank you so much for reading my post, Kia! Yes, staying grounded is so critical, and very difficult to do at times, but can lead to a whole other level of peace and freedom! Take good care. :)

  2. I think your film is very good. You did a great job. “The first day I was in Martha’s Vineyard, my mind was stuck in thoughts and hopes of having this festival be an experience that will, in some way, advance my film professionally. But advancement looked very narrow to me at that time.” I think this is the biggest mistake that filmmakers make when they go to any film festival and the discussion on managing expectations and emotions needs to be had prior to the event. It sounds as though you have and are managing both a lot better moving forward and hopefully you understand that it is a journey and journeys can be very short or very long. Easy or arduous. Their will be extreme highs and of course rejection. It really depends on how far you’d like to go and what your willing to risk, etc. You make an excellent point in saying “But I do think that if we focus solely on that element we risk losing connection to a realness that can be quite revitalizing, and probably just as important (and maybe even more so) than the professional opportunity we might solely be seeking.” Human connection, revitalization, filmmaker camaraderie is what the RSF Martha’s Vineyard AAFF is all about. You hit the nail right on the head! High Five!!! If professional opportunity presents itself than you should make the most of it but NO film festival markets itself that way? There’s a long line of filmmakers that have been accepted into Sundance and walk away having had no professional advancement, no revitalization, made no human connection or experienced no camaraderie that you experienced at Martha’s Vineyard. Whoever those ladies where and whomever you met you were supposed to meet them, that was your blessing. You are obviously a very intelligent young lady with a very bright future. Your writing is very elegant and observational, you seem like a very cerebral person. We had a banner crop of feature films this year and I hope you had an opportunity to view the other films in competition. They were all very good. My apologies on that additional screening mix up…we all need to manage our emotions a little better and understand that its OK to say NO. There was absolutely no time on the schedule to do another screening. Again, your film is very good and I wish we had more time to speak in Martha’s Vineyard…maybe next time. Continued success and infinite blessings! FR

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