Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on March 22, 2012
San Francisco is home to many notable film festivals but next month the City by the Bay will play host to a new noteworthy event, The San Francisco Fashion Film Festival. This style-conscious affair takes place April 7 – 8 at the Roxie Theater and it will feature screenings of documentaries, shorts and chic films that contain fabulous costume designs including ZIEGFELD GIRL (1941), BARBARELLA (1968), THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (1995), THE MATRIX (1999) and MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006).
The San Francisco Fashion Film Festival was the bright idea of three innovate women bloggers who recently gave me the inside scoop on this exciting event. What follows is an insightful Q&A about the festival as well as some discussion about the hurdles they faced putting it together and their hopes for the festival’s future.
Movie Morlocks: Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourselves? How did you all meet and when did you get interested in fashion and film?
Annie: We are Adelle McElveen, Kim Mitchell Stokes & Annie Wilson. All three of us are San Francisco style bloggers, and we met about 3 years ago at different events around town. Between the three of us, Adelle & Kim know the most about contemporary fashion, technology, & trends, while I really love fashion history and classic film.
MM: What inspired you to put together the Fashion Film Festival in San Francisco? Is this the first film event you’ve organized?
Adelle: I wanted to start doing more creative work, and after listening to Annie and Kim talk about Style Cinema, the idea for a film festival popped into my head. Annie had hosted some cafe screenings a few years ago under StyleCinemaSF. She and Kim had discussed reviving the series in a new location just at the time when I mentioned doing a full-scale film festival. It was perfect timing! But yes, this is the first time any of us have done this type of a large-scale film event. San Francisco is a fabulous town for film fanatics. It’s a city that loves film festivals and we have many art house cinemas that seem happy to host them. We also have a really strong local fashion community. Putting the two together seemed only natural.
The SF Fashion Film Fest Crew: Annie Wilson, Adelle McElveen and Kim Mitchell Stokes (Photo: Klassy Goldberg)
MM: There are a wide variety of movies being shown at the festival that should appeal to just about anyone including classic feature films like ZIEGFELD GIRL (1941) and BARBARELLA (1968) as well as newer releases such as CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (1995), THE MATRIX (1999) and MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006). Not to mention documentaries like JACK TAYLOR OF BEVERLY HILLS (2007) and GOD SAVE MY SHOES (2011). How did you go about selecting the films that are being shown?
Annie: I think we would all agree that this decision process was one of the more protracted tasks, but also the most fun! To begin, each of us focused on a separate category: indies for Adelle, documentaries for Kim, and feature films for myself. We each put together a list of 10 final films for our category and started screening each others’ selections. Then, we met over two Sundays to screen even more films, discuss our choices, and narrow the selection. We wanted to put together a lineup that was unexpected, fun, and provocative. We wanted to offer the audience some titles that they maybe hadn’t considered before as “style” or “fashion” films. We made sticky notes of each film title, different themes – and any other random thoughts that might occur to us – and then started arranging and re-arranging. I think we began with the films we all agreed that we loved and then tried to figure out how to show them in a way that made sense and also within the constraints we faced, such as how much screen time we have and which films we could actually get the rights to screen. We tried to group our films in a way that created some dialogue and unexpected interest. For instance, we all wanted to screen BARBARELLA, not just because of the costumes, but also because it’s just sexy and fun, but we didn’t know where to put it in the lineup. Then I said, “Hey, what about THE MATRIX?” which wasn’t even one of our short-listed titles, and we all lit up with excitement.
Images from ZIEGFELD GIRL featuring Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner
MM: I was particularly excited to learn that you’ll be showing Roger Vadim’s BARBARELLA, which happens to be one of my favorite fantasy/sci-fi films from the ‘60s, It’s a fun movie with a great cast and it’s also got some incredible costumes created by Jacques Fonteray and the legendary fashion designer Paco Rabanne. Are you all fans of sixties era fashions and design?
Annie: Yes! When I was narrowing my list of films I found that almost all of them were either made in the sixties or made more recently, but depicted the 1960s. It’s funny how you’re just drawn to certain eras & aesthetics. Next year I’m hoping we can do more, such as WHAT A WAY TO GO (1964), which we all wanted to screen this year or a great Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedy from the 1960s.
MM: Besides the main Film Festival taking place on the weekend of April 7th-8th at the Roxie Theater, you’ve also got some interesting pre-festival activities planned. I was especially intrigued by an April 6th event you’ve organized with the de Young Museum in conjunction with their current Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit. Can you tell me more about that event and how it ties together with the San Francisco Fashion Film Festival?
Annie: The film FALBALAS (aka PARIS FRILLS; 1942) was a film that Gaultier saw as a young man which, according to his biography, inspired him to become a fashion designer. Since the de Young is opening Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk only 2 weeks before the SF Fashion Film Festival, we thought a partnership would be perfect! We pitched the title to the de Young for their Free Friday Nights series, and they were happy to agree. We’re then continuing the Gaultier theme on Sunday when we will screen CITY OF LOST CHILDREN for which Gaultier did the costume design.
Adelle: Apart from the de Young screening, we’re also excited about the March 25 workshop “Disposable Film 101″, with the Disposable Film Festival. A “disposable film” is something shot on everyday equipment such as a cell phone, pocket camera, flip cam, or any other inexpensive video capture device. Fashion photography and street style photography are so popular, we’re hoping to help photographers start making films as well.
Images from BARBARELLA featuring Jane Fonda
MM: I’m only familiar with a few of Jacques Becker’s films and I hadn’t seen or heard of FALBALAS until you mentioned it to me. I love the fact that you’re digging up little seen gems like FALBALAS and including them as part of the festival. Did you have a hard time getting a copy of the film?
Annie: Oddly enough, I found a seller online who sent me a copy. I was amazed I could find it! This is a really strange film. It was made just after WWII ended, so the streets of Paris are deserted and everyone is going around on bicycles. The hairstyles, clothes and shoes are hyper-exaggerated, so it is easy to see how Gaultier got his inspiration. I also think this is an important film because it shows an authentic view of what happens in a couture house behind the scenes. You see the main character designing, draping, and fitting the clothes, as well as the machinations going on in the workroom. It’s definitely not like ROBERTA (1935)!
MM: There’s an awful lot of planning, preparation and promotion that goes into events like this and film festivals often have to rely on generous donors to get by. Has putting the festival together been difficult? What were some of the worst hurdles you’ve faced?
Adelle: Producing this festival has been an incredible challenge. None of us have experience producing film festivals, or any events of this scale, so everything has been a learning process. We’re deeply grateful to our Kickstarter donors and local sponsors for our funding, and to individuals in the community (our advisory board) who have provided us with invaluable advice and assistance. One of the early hurdles was making our Kickstarter video. That was the first big thing we did and the process was overwhelming. Thankfully we found videographers that were both extremely patient and very skilled! Another huge undertaking has been the entire process of getting sponsors and advertisers. It’s relatively easy to convince people to spend money on a ticket to a festival, but getting a business owner to part with their money is far more difficult – and rightly so! We carefully considered our initial sponsorship packet and pitches, and yet we still ended up iterating on that a few times. Someone in the industry recently told us that we were one of the more organized film festivals that she’s seen. Given that we’re brand new to this, hearing that was incredibly encouraging!
Kim: It’s probably been one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done. We started from scratch in every sense of the word—getting the word out, attaining donors and sponsors, securing film rights, getting advertisers—and we’ve been extremely lucky to have a wonderful advisory board to guide us with advice and assistance. Some of the film rights were particularly challenging; one only wanted us to communicate via standard mail, others were out of our price range. Above all, I’m really proud of all of us because we’ve taken this on and really committed to it 110%.
MM: Costume and fashion design can often be integral to the look and feel of a movie. Unfortunately it’s an area that’s often overlooked or taken for granted. There seems to be a lot more focus placed on acting, directing and special effects these days. Do you think events like the San Francisco Fashion Film Festival will change that?
Kim: It is unfortunate that in the digital age, special effects, 3D, and the like are what people talk about most when seeing a film. Yes, one of the films we’re showing, THE MATRIX, was lauded for its special effects, cinematography, and art direction when it was released. But the film also inspired fashion designers like Nicolas Ghesquiere, Hedi Slimane, and Rick Owens (among others) to create a new way of dressing—fashion as real-world armor. We’re hoping to show how fashion and costumes have influenced not just fashion but society, and really have people admire, investigate and celebrate fashion in film and by proxy, the costume designers.
Images from THE MATRIX featuring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne
MM: Finally, are there any plans to organize more Fashion Film Festivals in the future?
Annie: Yes, absolutely! We are putting together plans for screenings for the Fall of this year, and then we plan to be back next year in the late winter/early spring with a full festival and a new lineup of films!
If you’d like to find out more information about the festival or purchase tickets for the event please visit the official website of The San Francisco Fashion Film Festival.
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