Since 2008 the Derby City Film Festival has strived to become a dot on the cinematic map. Founded by Kris Rommel and his wife, Ashley, it started out, according to the Rommels as a simple need.
“I had made films and even won film festivals in the past, but as far as Louisville, if I wanted my films shown, there was nowhere to show it. So we decided we’d try and make our own film festival,” Kris Rommel said.
However, the Rommels, who also own The Bob Rogers Group, a production company, found that getting the film submissions was the easy part, but getting community support was challenging, and today remains an uphill battle for the festival.
“Louisville has an outpouring of talent and nowhere to showcase it. Our hope is to educate and therefore build an audience,” Rommel said.
Sixty-eight short films, documentaries, and full-length features will be screened at the festival, which runs Friday through Sunday, Feb. 18-20, at the Clifton Center. Twenty of the films are, from Kentucky filmmakers, 10 are from Indiana and Ohio, and 25 hail from different countries, including Russia, Poland and Canada. The remainder are from New York and Los Angeles, including “Figaro: Living in the Moment of a Character” by D.V. Schaefer, which focuses on the collaboration between the University of Louisville School of Music and the Szymanowski Academy of Music in Poland for the opera “Figaro.”
“It’s great we’ve had such high local involvement from Kentucky filmmakers, but our hope is to bring the best films from all over,” Rommel said. Once submitted, the film goes through a selection committee that reviews and rates each film to be considered for entry.
The Derby City Film Festival’s flicks are considered more mainstream and less experimental, meaning the audience will not be watching paint dry – or poets sleep – a la Andy Warhol. Its glitz and glamour on a budget, and it just might be frugal storytelling at its best.
“We are really trying to educate Louisville on the art that is independent films, and therefore providing a chance for filmmakers to flourish,” Rommel said.
Others have tried to bring festivals to Louisville; however, Rommel said the shelf life of a film festival is about three to four years.
The first year for the festival was all about getting information out to the public, but it has proved difficult to immerse the Derby City Film Festival into an already established industry that boasts anywhere from 1,600 to 2,000 festivals worldwide.
“I think we overestimated people’s want for an indie film festival,” Rommel said. “It was also probably not the best move to start a new business right at the beginning of the economic recession. We are lucky to be in our third, year.”
Full information on all films in the festival is available online at www.derbycityfilmfest.com or by calling (502) 618-3192. The festival also includes panels, workshops and filmmaker Q&As. Tickets and passes are on sale and start at $6. The festival will open with a group of short films at 6 p.m. on Feb. 18 and is free to attend.
Jewish Film Festival opens Feb. 12
This year the Derby City Film Festival will, collaborate in support of the 13th Annual Jewish Film Festival, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, at the Clifton Center with the screening of “Voice Teacher” a documentary film from New York.
The Louisville Jewish Film Festival will feature 10 international films. Opening night will be held at Congregation Adath Jeshurun beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. Tickets are on sale for $15 and include a dessert reception.
The festival will continue through Monday Feb. 21 with screenings at Village 8 Theater, The Temple, Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom and University of Louisville’s Chao Auditorium.
For more information, call (502) 459-0660 or visit www.jewishlouisville.org.
Category: Cover Stories
About the Author (Author Profile)
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.