“We wanted to give people something they could get no where else,” said Edmond Coisson, founder of the Naperville Independent Film Festival (NIFF). “Whether you’re a director, an editor, or a makeup artist, you will get something out of the event.”
In its third year, NIFF has grown in size and popularity. With ten different categories, this year’s screening includes more than 100 films. A single winner is selected for each category.
While the celebrated focus of the festival is the winner, everyone who competes agress there’s value in the experience.
Coisson says the festival is all about learning and growth for the film maker. “I take all the responses from the jurors and I create a small booklet,” says Coisson. “It’s just like a resource book for every filmmaker that does not make it.”
Interest has grown in the festival, with 19 states and ten countries now represented. Traveling all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah, actor Tod Huntington explored downtown Naperville while trying to stir up attention about his film, Up and Down.
“People here are very nice,” Huntington said. “It’s great, it’s a great atmosphere, great restaurants, great food, great music out here too.”
Johnette Duff, the producer of Up and Down, believes the festival helps her market her film and make connections with others in the industry.
“We’ve met other film makers and other actors and it’s been great,” she said. “I’ve just been hanging out around downtown Naperville.”
To provide further exposure for film makers, NIFF has partnered with the European Independent Film Festival of Paris to showcase films internationally. Glessna Coisson, co-founder of NIFF, says “Their winners are being shown tonight here, and they’re going to be showing ours in Paris in February.”
Fans like Naperville resident Gwyn Dekker are excited about this year’s festival.
“Well I saw it happen last year and I didn’t get to get here and I am determined to get here this year,” Dekker said. “I have an abscessed tooth but I’m still here! I wasn’t going to miss it this year.”
Unlike Dekker, Elgin resident James Zingales had never heard of the Naperville Film Festival before this year. His interest was struck by a film focussing on the civil war, an era he has a lot of interest in.
“I found out that they do this every year and it’s a wonderful thing going on,” Zingales said. “I’m going to be more conscious of it in the future and make sure I take this in and see what else they’re offering.”
NIFF organizers are continuing to look for ways to expand, and next year will include a new genre: music videos.
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