The Indy Film Fest's all-volunteer crew puts in a lot of hours to make sure Indianapolis has a world-class independent film festival with nothing off-limits. Having spent two years on the Indy Film Fest screening committee, I have gained a lot of insight into the festival and how to best experience it. Here are my tips on making the most of what is sure to be an excellent year for cinema in Indianapolis, as Indy Film Fest turns 10.
1. Start Your Film Fest Fling at Opening Night on July 18
Love Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, and Olivia Wilde? Make your way to Opening Night for Drinking Buddies, a rom-com set in a brewery. Rumor is director Joe Swanberg will be in attendance. Bonus: The after party is at Sun King Brewery! Maybe you will find your own beer-mance?
2. Dig Into A Different Way Of Life With The Matter-Of-Fact Documentaries
Last year, documentaries spanning vastly different topics, from the urban renewal in Detroit to Wonder Women, were the talk of the festival. Indy Film Fest knows how to curate an excellent slate of unique true-life stories. This years topics include the decline of printed books, living in small spaces, and a transgender activist and at the Indy Film Fest preview, Festival Director Craig Mince raved about Sundance Festival's Grand Jury Prize Documentary Blood Brothers. Mark your calendars now; it's one night only.
3. Make Your Staycation More Exotic With World Cinema
Foreign films have a bad rap of being dramatic, artsy affairs. Sure, there's some of that here but there is also this silly coming of age tale from Poland prominently featuring Ice, Ice Baby. Or maybe you prefer a romance in Hong Kong? Afraid of subtitles? No fear, Indy Film Fest has supplied English accent options from Canada and United Kingdom.
4. Ditch the Stale Movie Popcorn
We know part of the fun of summer blockbuster season is the giant tub of "butter" popcorn. But wouldn't you rather have Just Pop In's beer-cheese popcorn with a Sun King Beer? I thought so.
5. Check Out Local Talent Through Hoosier Lens
Yes, that right - Indiana is home to it own burgeoning crop of filmmakers. This year three Indiana-made films tackle true stories from indie rock bands to Santa Claus himself. In addition, this year features 10 Hoosier Lens shorts. I am most excited about 'Boop Beep,' a handcrafted a love story about a lonely little robot who tries to win the heart of the girlbot next door. Sounds like five minutes of awesomeness to me.
6. Pop in a Movie Around Town
To celebrate year 10, Indy Film Fest deiced to incorporate it's popular Roving Cinema series into the festival with site-specific screenings around town. The Libertine, Harrison Center for the Arts, the Historical Society along the canal and Tibbs Drive-In are among the destinations for these special screenings.
7. Let's Keep This Short
Seeing a shorts program is a must. Heart, humor and suspense in under 10 minutes? Believe it.
8. Attend screenings with Q&A's
One of the major differentiators of a festival experience is getting a behind-the-scenes perspective on the movie you just saw. Throughout the fest look out for Q&A's following screenings with writers, directors and actors. They aren't always promoted in advance, so follow @indyfilmfest or Facebook.
9. Plan Nothing
My favorite way to attend the Fest is to show up early on a Saturday at the IMA and camp out for a full day of unplanned film goodness (Seriously how lucky are we to have the Toby Theatre?). Pick a couple must-sees, leave a few spots open, and choose the rest at random or better yet at the advice from fellow film lovers and festival staff - trust me these are nice people ready to dish. When you get hungry, take a break at the delicious Nourish Café and soak in the beautiful view of the IMA gardens. At the end of a full day of screenings, settle into one of the oversized red beanbags in front of the screen for your final flick of the night. Then end your day at wherever the after party is.
10. Close out the festival with Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Yes, bragging about seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writing and directing debut before all your Facebook friends is encouraged. Co-starring Scarlett Johansen and the always sublime Julianne Moore, be warned this isn't a Hollywood blockbuster despite the star quota. The title character played by Levitt, Don Jon, deals with the difficulties of building a relationship after having unrealistic expectations from his porn addiction. Needless to say, there will be plenty to talk about at the after party.