In its third year running, the Plymouth Independent Film Festival fills a need for fans and filmmakers, both professional and hobbyist.
Peter Pillitteri likes to be in “the zone.”
As a doctor in an emergency room, he feels like he’s onstage and the intensity is addictive. Outside of work, he produces films for the same rush. A member of his film team, editor Bill Patton, turns to film for the opposite reason: a computer network consultant, Patton thirsts for a creative outlet.
Regardless of their motives, both men, from Plymouth, work on the same seven-member film team. This year’s product, “No Match,” a short film examining a smoker’s struggle with addiction, generated some buzz among the festival crew. Everyone likes to support the hometown team.
In its third year running, the Plymouth Independent Film Festival fills a need for fans and filmmakers, both professional and hobbyist. For Pillitteri and Patton, it’s the highlight of the team’s year, the biggest opportunity to show off what they love to do.
For Todd Robinson, an Emmy Award-winning director, it’s a chance to showcase something a little more serious. For residents and visitors passing through Plymouth’s historic Waterfront, the festival provides an alternative to climbing aboard the Mayflower again.
The spirit behind the festival’s provisions is that it brings people of a common interest together. Screenings, workshops and ceremonies entertain, educate and most importantly, network, setting up future collaborations. An interview with Pillitteri is interrupted by handshakes and “I can’t wait to see your film” and “I’ll send you the script as soon as it’s finished” exchanges.
This year, the startling “A Letter to the Prime Minister” stood out among the documentaries. A heavy look at families suffering unimaginable fates in Iraq, the narrated letter from a British activist to now former Prime Minister Tony Blair, was shot in Falluja when even the Al Jazeera news organization had pulled out.
For features, Robinson’s “Lonely Hearts” starring John Travolta and James Gandolfini was well received. Travolta’s character in “A Civil Action,” attorney Jan Schlichtmann won this year’s Maverick Award for his famous representation of families sickened by a contaminated water source.
At the awards ceremony, Massachusetts filmmaker Alice Bouvrie won two awards for “Prison Pups.” In attendance during the screening was a deaf woman whose canine assistant was trained by the documentary’s subjects, four Concord inmates.
Still developing, the festival is run by volunteers. Brand designer Jim Curran says the demanding year-round commitment is worthwhile because it proves Plymouth can support the artistic event. As passionate as Curran is about film, he wants to show what his town is capable of. Curran is currently working on a documentary of his own and attends the workshops each year, earning valuable hands-on experience taught by industry insiders.
This year, Curran says his highlight was the Future Filmmaker’s Felix Awards. He was impressed with the quality of the student films and was pleased to see kids involved in film.
Plymouth’s No Place for Hate committee, which sponsors a film each year, presented “The Desert Rose,” a fictional short that addresses the dynamic between wealthy white Californians and poor Hispanic immigrants. Saturday’s screenings had an environmental theme, with a late showing of “The Day After Tomorrow” on the waterfront.
In the middle of the summer, with Plymouth’s tourism season at its peak, the Plymouth Independent Film Festival provided something different. When a friend called Patton and asked if there was anything going on to entertain guests visiting from out of town, this weekend he was proud to recommend a unique cultural experience.