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But now, kids turn on the TV at night and there’s E! Entertainment, there’s Extra. Everything about the media now is so accessible. Kids today have this outlook where media is not something they think about, like when you or I examined a relationship with film or what film means to us. We sit back and we think about it and it’s over there. We rode our bikes for 20 minutes to be able to see The Poseidon Adventure, and on the way home we’d all talk about the film and our favorite parts, who was the best in it. Now that experience is totally different. You go into the cinema, and it’s an entertainment complex that demands your attention. The film is just one part of an entertainment experience; you leave the cinema, you go back to the lobby, there’s video games. You get in the car, start the DVD player, and see cartoons on the way home. You get out of the car, go in the house and play Playstation. You go into the kitchen and your parents have the TV on, watching Extra, seeing the person who you just saw on screen at the movie theater. It’s a very inclusive experience, it hits us everywhere, whereas it was very isolated for us. Film to us was something that was elusive. What’s very interesting when I speak to my son or children in that 8- to 12-year-old range now is that their experience is very much personality-based. They like this guy in that film, or this show because he was in it. Whereas when I was young we were very story- or fantasy-driven. I could ride my bike all the way home after seeing The Poseidon Adventure and imagine that I was the kid to get through, and swim underneath, and be the one who made it out at the end. Any number of films that we cherished was because they impacted us in that way.
Publicity and Community Liaison Mindy Mendelsohn
Mindy Mendelsohn joined the Sedona Film Festival staff this year. Mindy has worked for over 20 years in the entertainment industry both as an actor and filmmaker as well as talent agent with the Geddes Agency in Chicago and L.A. She was a member of the touring company of improv group Second City of Chicago.
Sedona Monthly: What is the selection process for the festival like?
Mindy: I got here this morning at 7:30 and have been logging in films since [this conversation took place around 3 p.m. – ed.]. We had 30 films come in yesterday. Last week we got 20. We are averaging 40 or 50 a week. We just got two more today. The selection process is fascinating because jurors have vast disagreements about the same film. We have a screening committee of 12 community members who have various experiences in film, and Douglas and I go through the films as well. We have a rating score of 1-10 in a various categories – direction, content, production values. Does the story work? Does the lighting and sound work for the film? Is it captivating? Does this movie challenge you? We look at all that.
To me, the most interesting category is “Departure”: Is this a story that has been told before? If so, is it being told in a different manner? Or did the film come in from a director that’s better known for a different type of film.
To me, the most famous “Departure” in the past 20 years is Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. Do you remember the flak he took for it? It freed him to go make different kinds of films.
How long have you been with the film festival?
I began [working] with the film festival this year, but attended it as a journalist every year, with the exception of one year when I was in L.A. I was so upset that I couldn’t go!