Let it snow: The Winter Film Awards Indie Film Festival
The Winter Film Awards is a volunteer-run celebration of the diversity of local and international filmmaking. Founded in 2011 and held in the culturally diverse and artistically stimulating city of New York, the festival has grown in size and scope each year and is now established as one of the top ten best reviewed festivals on FilmFreeway.
WFA hosts four events each year: in addition to its annual Indie Film Festival held each February, the slate consists of an annual 48-Hour Film Challenge, a Comedy Competition, and a Music Video Challenge. “This allows us to support both local and international artists looking to gain the experience, recognition, and contacts needed to break into the tough entertainment industry,” mentioned WFA Executive Director Steffanie Finn.
Through its various events, the WFA’s missions is to recognize excellence in cinema and promote learning and artistic expression for people at all stages of their careers. The fest prides itself on presenting a diverse collection of movie & TV show selections, allowing audiences to enjoy films they normally wouldn’t think to seek out.
Since its inception, WFA has grown a lot over the years noted Finn. “We started in 2011 with the idea that we wanted a completely fair festival – one where each filmmaker has a level playing field and all submissions are judged only on the merits on the screen, without regard to budget, celebrities, or connections. Our goal was to support emerging filmmakers start their careers and to help them get as much recognition, connections, and press as we could.”
Taking inspiration from how homogenous a lot of the festivals were, the team behind WFA set out to find the most diverse possible group of films to showcase everything going on in the indie film world. This was helped by its location being New York City, providing access to people from all over the world. While Finn claimed they had “no clue how to run a festival back in 2011” (not knowing how to write a press release, make a flyer, or even find sponsors), the team started small with a three-day event.
However, audiences reacted well to its diverse slate and festival atmosphere and since then it has grown into a ten-day fest with 80 to 90 films showcased each year, as well as elaborate parties, screenings in a real theater, and a series of top-notch discussions / workshops focused on useful skills and information for emerging filmmakers. “It’s been an absolutely shocking amount of work, but we are really proud of our event,” added Finn.
While the festival is all about diversity, the most important thing is the films are of a very high standard. “A subpar film by a demographically interesting filmmaker is not going to be screened,” noted Finn, “it’s most important to us that the films are amazing.” To ensure a diverse set of awesome selections, WFA throws the net really wide, which is helped a lot by its multi-cultural team. “We are able to advertise for submissions in Turkish, Japanese, Spanish, German, Farsi, and Arabic. We also work with other film festivals around the world to find interesting movies and round out the program.”
While the team behind WFA is proud of all its film submissions and selections over the years, some of its most notable include Meera Menon‘s debut feature Farah Goes Bang, Elias Plagianos’s web series Shoot Me Nicely starring Linda Hamilton, Tom Sierchio’s debut feature The Girl Who Invented Kissing starring Suki Waterhouse & Luke Wilson, Bidyut Kotoky’s Rainbow Fields starring Victor Banerjee, and the Oscar-nominated animated short We Cannot Live Without Cosmos.
After an outstanding 2018 event, Finn announced the team is already planning an even bigger and better WFA 2019. “We’ve started our strategy for 2019 and plan to keep growing and building on the festival, to learn from our mistakes and continuously improve.”