Film festivals are ripe for satire, consumed as they are by hype and ever-increasing media attention -- just take a look at how the movie industry loses its collective mind each year as Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, AFI, SXSW, etc., etc. unfolds. Chomping at the bit to anoint the next great filmmaker or unearth the next Best Picture winner and box office champion, film festivals often seem like hermetic little worlds where those involved in the business of making movies disappear into themselves, wholly overtaken by the idea of buzz, bucks and making it big. It's into this climate that the Independent Film Channel (IFC) has released the knowing satire The Festival.
Billed as a mock documentary conducted by IFC proxy (and hard-bitten questioner) Cookie Armstrong (played by Miranda Handford), The Festival tracks the progress of budding filmmaker Rufus Marquez (Nicolas Wright) as he shepherds his directorial debut "The Unreasonable Truth of Butterflies" through the Mountain United Film Festival (M.U.F.F., for short - har-har). Rufus, completely unprepared for the tidal wave of activity that comprises M.U.F.F., and dealing with his preening star Lance Rawly (James A. Woods), spends the next few episodes desperately clinging to the verbiage of an auteur while hoping against hope that M.U.F.F. is his ticket to the big time. Director/co-writer Phil Price, along with co-writer Myles Hainsworth, have an eye for deflating the pomposity which accompanies these bacchanals of cinema, deftly skewering the pretentiousness that afflicts seemingly anyone involved with a film festival, however large or small. The Festival is compact (most episodes clock in at around 25 minutes) but does its job effectively within that space.
The six barely half-hour episodes are needlessly spread across two discs, with each batch of three playable separately or all together. The set is housed in a standard Amaray two-disc keepcase.
All six episodes of The Festival are presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfers, as originally broadcast on the Independent Film Channel. There are instances of softness, high contrast and slight grain, but given that the series is shot in the verite style, these slight flaws are somewhat forgivable.
Again, as originally broadcast on IFC, The Festival arrives on DVD sporting a perfectly fine Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack that conveys the dialogue cleanly and clearly, with no distortion or drop-out.
There's not a trace of supplemental material to be found.
The Festival has an eye for deflating the pomposity which accompanies these bacchanals of cinema, deftly skewering the pretentiousness that afflicts seemingly anyone involved with a film festival, however large or small. If you missed the series on IFC, this bare-bones set is a great way to catch up. Recommended.