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Why It’s Important for Me to Submit to Film Festivals

It may seem like an obvious title, but if you have ever submitted to festival or any type of competition it can be quite nerve racking. You are putting your work out there to be judged on whether it’s of value to be shown at their event. In fact, his week I got my latest rejection letter from the Sundance Film Festival for a VR piece I made in Berlin this summer at the School of Making and Make Believe. In the back of my mind, I knew it was a long shot to get in but for some reason I always have this hope that programmers will see value in my artistic intentions.

When I received the rejection email this week, my heart sank. It’s not that I haven’t felt rejection before, but even after years of these emails I still haven’t acquired a taste for the bitterness of frustration.

In that moment I questioned myself, my work, and wonder if I will ever stand a chance at getting recognition through these festivals. It took a few days to shake it off as the end of week another deadline was looming for the Tribeca Film Festival. Thoughts raced through my head, but it allowed me to get some perspective. For me, I always saw festivals as a way to create deadlines for myself in order to push me to finish my work.

However, along the way I started expecting more than that and it’s not that I feel like I should scale back my ambition it’s that I should remember the reason that I did it in the first place. Sundance gave me a goal and without it, I’m not sure if I would have finished The Key and submitting it was the greatest feeling in the world.

Film festivals are important to me because the submission gives me a sense of accomplishment. It says something like “I’m here, I’m an artist, and my work has value”. Whether others see value in the work that I’m making is an entirely different conversation, but my self worth as an artist shouldn’t be tied to their selection process. As an artist I can’t stop coming up with ideas and creating them. Festivals are places that celebrate this and I’m proud of myself that I have the opportunity to submit to them with new work. So rather than worry, I should just go out and find more festival deadline opportunities and make another project.