The New Media Film Festival Celebrates Cinema's Expanding Realms

On June 11 and 12 the New Media Film Festival rockets back into West Pico's Landmark Cinema for its fourth annual celebration of innovative movie-making.

For those uncomfortable of the term 'new media,' fear not. This is a festival that makes the cutting edge accessible by seamlessly weaving the tried and true with the next wave. Perhaps best exemplified by 21-year-old opening night musician Charles Eliasch singing 19t- century opera by Bellini immediately followed by a presentation of edgy 3D films.

Through The Storm (Ireland) trailer in the Animation category:

So what is 'new media' exactly?

Festival founder Susan Johnston defines it as "infinite possibilities." While that may seem broad, new media is broad. It's a vast realm with ever-changing tools and techniques encompassing any emerging methods of producing, delivering, and viewing of content from now into the unforeseeable future.

The festival's categories might present the clearest picture of what new media can consist of. While there are no features on the schedule, webseries ("the new TV shows" says Johnston), animation, music videos, shorts, APPs and documentaries abound.

In addition, technology is represented by categories including Shot on Red, mobile (cell phone created), machinima (video for the gamer lifestyle featuring 3D real time graphics and judged in competition by none other than the creator of Star Wars' R2D2), STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math - cool, educational programming on the digital space), Sniplers (30-second snippets of trailers), and Trailers - which, in the new media cinemascape, are statements in and of themselves - as important as the feature they are encapsulating.

Lily Baldwin's Sleepover L.A. in the Snipler category of New Media Film Festival:

Steven Lebowitz (of National Movie Trailers Examiner), the judge for the New Media trailer competition notes:

"If the filmmakers in the trailer category were up against the trailer to Iron Man 3, it would not matter to me. I would judge each on their own as they come in."

British director Amanda Eliasch's The Gun, The Cake & The Butterfly is among the trailers at New Media Film Festival. Though Eliasch will be showing her feature length film at New York City International Film Festival and Ischia Film Festival in Italy this summer, in the meantime, her movie's trailer is in the spotlight. She comments on working in new media.

"I was a photographer originally, and the new formats in digital filmmaking technology gave me huge opportunities to experiment with the medium. It makes everything possible. In my case the beautiful Canon camera, which everybody thinks you are taking photographs when you are in fact shooting a film. Incredible. It seems perfect that my very first film festival exposure is at New Media. Filmmakers can create movies now on limited budgets, and this makes the whole cinematic world come alive."

The Gun, The Cake & The Butterfly (2013) trailer:

Johnston adds:

"In this age of mass quantity information moving rapidly towards you, it's no surprise that trailers are taking over the festival space like music videos did to MTV back in the day. Trailers are exciting, like being in a candy store with jars of colorful choices and no end in sight. What I really like about the trailers we have at this year is they cover many genres: autobiographical, dance, LGBT, political and from Africa, North America and Europe."

While the festival embraces the new, Johnston maintains that the tools of traditional storytelling are its cornerstone.

"That is why I created the festival - I wanted to give these pioneering storytellers a place for their work. And on a personal note, it goes much deeper than that. Just a few days ago I received the call that no one wants to get, 'your Dad is terminally ill' so I reflected and realized that I'm paying tribute to my father because he gave me eclectic experiences in my life that forced me to see infinite possibilities, which is the heart of new media. And my mother's death when I was 16 taught me so much. I honor her honest look on life by seeking out filmmakers with stories worth telling. So being able to blend quality storytelling with new choices in technology makes my heart sing on so many levels."

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