It Made Me Cry, but is it Art?

It Made Me Cry, but is it Art?
By Charlie Haviland

Cannes. Toronto. Sundance. Royal Starr.

All film festivals. All grandchildren of political upheaval and cultural unrest.

How so, you may ask. Glad you did.

The Venice Film Festival, oldest in the world (1932), was borne out of dictator Benito Mussolini’s desire to promote Italy’s state-run cinema while trying to cut out Hollywood imports by imposing heavy “dubbing levies” on English talkies. Before that, Western European filmmakers had no place to showcase documentaries and the more abstract avant garde works. Hollywood wasn’t going to distribute a Max Skladanowsky short or Jean Epstein’s La Glace a Trois Face (1928). So, they started film salons–forerunners of the modern film festival.

Most American movie-goers support the entertainment industry. We are largely not interested in art.

” ‘The Godfather’ was an artistic masterpiece,” as well as a box-office smash, says Luke Castle, a founding member of the Royal Starr Film Festival, which will launch it’s inaugural season this October in Royal Oak, Michigan.

“How often does Hollywood make great masterpieces?” I ask Mr. Castle? I get a rightful shrug.

The RSFF will feature Michigan filmmaker Amy Weber’s “A Girl Like Her,” a 2015 indie focused on American teenage bullying. Ms. Weber characterizes bullying and its concentric social consequences with aplomb, but is “A Girl Like Her” a good, even great film as well? IMDB & Rotten Tomatoes both weigh in with 6.5 star ratings. I believe the film merits more artistic respect, but why don’t you come see for yourself?

Save the date: October 13-16, 2016. Meet Ms. Weber. I promise she’ll treat you with respect.

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