When you first meet Mike Dilley, President and Director of the Eugene International Film Festival (EIFF), you realize quickly how passionate he is about film. Acting like a child who just returned from a little league game, Mike can’t wait to share with me the lineup of films being presented this year.
With 25 years of experience in film as a producer, director, camera and/or soundman, as well as a speaker and writer covering the business, Mike seems like a qualified candidate for organizing a film festival. Dilley says,
“Honestly, the story that I tell people is the first time I fell in love with movies is when my mom left me at the theater to watch Peter Pan. As a kid I loved that movie and I think that’s what really hooked me. I watched it several times in the theater. I was probably there every day.”
The 7th annual Eugene International Film Festival runs October 19-21. Celebrating films short and feature-length, as well as a number of genres including animated, documentary and drama, the festival will showcase films from all over the world. The festival kicks off Thursday, October 18, with an evening meet and greet for the filmmakers to network with professionals in the movie business including producers, distributors and agents. Then the official three days of the festival consist of the screenings.
But the EIFF is a place where everyone can feel like they’re auditioning. In addition to the films; aspiring screenwriters, filmmakers or just film buffs have an opportunity to attend a screenwriting workshop which will take place concurrently with the festival.
Consisting of 9 hours over 3 days, the screenwriters/filmmakers retreat gives participants a hands-on experience where they will come up with story ideas, develop characters, learn about basic three-act structure and pitch their ideas to a professional screenwriter, agent, producer or illustrator.
The professionals include: Tom Sawyer, a screenwriter and novelist who was head writer on the classic CBS series, Murder, She Wrote; Ken Sherman, President of his own literary agency; Terryl Whitlatch who studied illustration at the California College of Arts and went on to work for Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar; and Mike Katchman, a successful marketing agent who worked for Orion Films when they were producing such hits as Dances with Wolves and Silence of the Lambs.
Dilley believes it’s important for aspiring filmmakers to learn every aspect of the business and he encourages anyone with a passion for film to sign up for the workshop. He says,
“I think it’s important to understand the whole process. I love the mechanics of the business and I really love the business of the business. If there’s one secret, it’s starting with a great script. You’ve got to do a good job with aspects such as casting and directing, but I’ve seen movies that are technically and beautifully shot, but there’s no story to them. That’s what we try to hammer home.”
There will be 62 films presented this year with the majority of them screening at the Regal Theater at Valley River Center. However, for the first time, the festival will also be available at the Cinemark Theater in Springfield. Check out the festival’s schedule for more details on showtimes.
This being an international film festival, films presented this year come from as far away as Australia, Toronto, the Bahamas and Taiwan — to as close as Portland and Eugene. According to Dilley, a common subject usually emerges at the festival. This year it’s music. Here’s a sneak peak at a few American films celebrating the art of music.
For the Love of the Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival: Documentary – USA
For the Love of the Music explores the history of Club 47 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with emphasis on the years 1959-1968. Narrated by Peter Coyote, the film traces the career of Joan Baez and the evolution of the folk revival from the interpretation of traditional ballads to the singer-songwriter era.
Singing Bill O’Reilly: Documentary – USA
In 2004, political commentator Bill O’Reilly was sued by co-worker Andrea Mackris. Shortly after the multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement was announced, Seattle composer Igor Keller decided to create and self-produce a classical Baroque-style oratorio out of the text of the legal complaint, which includes transcripts of O’Reilly’s audio-taped phone calls to Mackris.
Singing Bill O’Reilly documents the dogged determination required by the creative process while simultaneously exploring questions of power, the place of social commentary in classical music, and the nature of artistic obsession.
The Stagecoach Bar: An American Crossroads: Documentary – USA
Located beneath the alpine splendor of the Teton Mountains, the “Coach” has long been welcoming an eclectic and evolving cocktail of characters – from cowboys to millionaires, tourists to extreme athletes, drifters to musicians, disco dancers to two-steppers – both young and old. This film paints an intimate portrait of a roadhouse and crossroads that has been creating its own brand of community for more than 70 years in ways that both define and defy our visions of the Wild West.
The festival aims to be an all encompassing experience for movie fans to learn every aspect of filmmaking. Dilley can remember the specific event in his life that lead him into the movie business.
“I met a guy who was a producer on a film called The Way West and he asked me if I wanted to work on the film and I said sure. It sounded like something to do for kicks. So I went out there the next day and never looked back.”
He speaks glowingly about Animal House of Blues, one of two films premiering for the first time at this year’s festival. But according to Dilley, they’ve had a good run of quality films from the very beginning. Dilley states,
“We’ve always had good movies. I don’t know if it’s dumb luck but even the first two years we were getting movies from Disney and some other pretty good studios. As the festival gets more recognition in the filmmaking community, we’ve seen a transition from mostly shorts in the first year to more feature-length films now.”
Dilley is happy with this year’s entries and believes there’s something for everyone. So movie fans eager to breakaway from the usual Hollywood fare should check out this year’s EIFF. At the very least you’ll take in a little culture and be amongst others who share the same passion for movies.
For more information about EIFF, visit the festival website.