The Wayward Festival paves the way for independent filmmakers
Every year, people flood into movie theaters to see stories play out on the silver screen. In every movie, the players – and the stories – are mostly the same. Despite being labeled as a community of “liberal elites,” Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to on-screen diversity.
Occasionally, a different sort of movie emerges from the film fray: one that explores a nontraditional narrative. Critics ooh and aah at the courage shown by those filmmakers and then hand their awards to a more “mainstream” film, before the cycle starts all over again. For film fans who fall outside of the typical Hollywood storyline, it’s a frustrating cycle. Frances Levy was one of these fans. As an immigrant to the U.S., she was tired of never seeing blockbuster movies that reflected her family and life experiences.
Handing the Stage to Diverse Views
As a veteran of the film festival industry, Levy knew that the problem wasn’t that these movies weren’t being made – there’s a huge population of independent filmmakers constantly working hard on bringing diverse perspectives to the screen. The problem is that these artists weren’t being given a platform.
That is why she founded The Wayward Festival. With its exciting Hollywood debut in May of 2017, it seeks to bring independent filmmaking to the forefront, making it accessible to artists and viewers alike.
Accessibility was extremely important when Levy dreamed up Wayward back in 2015. She has a love/hate relationship with Hollywood: a love of old Hollywood and the class and exclusivity it denotes, as well as a hatred for the storytelling system that leaves so many people on the fringes.
“As an immigrant mongrel from a family of varied origins, I felt Hollywood didn’t really showcase people I could relate to,” she describes. While rewatching Singing in the Rain one evening, the idea came to her: why not create a film festival that welcomes nontraditional stories and themes, while still celebrating an old Hollywood vibe of romance and glamor – an event that is inclusive and exclusive all at once? With that, The Wayward Festival was born.
Hollywood Glitz with a Nontraditional Twist
To someone just being introduced to the concept, the idea of an inclusive/exclusive event seems like an impossibility. Wayward really is both, though. Filmmakers can submit shorts or feature films that range from world cinema and subtitled non-English films, to documentaries and TV pilots. Inclusivity is encouraged, with a prize going to the filmmaker who creates the most compelling piece that tackles issues such as gender, race, disability, LGBT, or women’s issues. The barrier for entry is extremely low: only $10.
For attendees, the films aren’t the only part of this festival that will be nontraditional. Wayward will evoke the days of old Hollywood by holding screenings at private estates and inspirational L.A. venues.
“That’s what they did in the 20s and 30s with private screenings,” Levy explains. “I wanted to evoke that vibe of exclusivity.”
The four secret venues for the festival range from an amazing penthouse on Hollywood and Vine with spectacular views over the city to a romantic mountain hideaway in Beachwood Canyon. Each screening will be strictly capped at 100 people, and there will be special elements – also a surprise – for each and every venue.
Wayward’s L.A. debut is just one part in what promises to be an international indie film event. After the L.A. launch, Wayward will hold festivals in one major U.S. city each month. In September it heads to Mexico City, and later in the fall to the U.K. Late 2017 will see Wayward Festivals in New York City and Berlin.
As this celebration of silver screen diversity moves across the globe, its founder hopes that filmmakers and moviegoers alike will embrace and support its spirit.
“The indie film community is really receptive to new ideas, so we hope they will welcome us with open arms,” Levy says. “We’re really excited to work with old and new partners.”