Scam Film Fest: Annual Program Without Frontiers

At first glance, the website seems believable. Poorly constructed, perhaps, but it seems to represent a benevolent program that gives awards to worthy filmmakers.

I’m speaking of the site for the Annual Program Without Frontiers. I’ve come to the conclusion that this “program” is nothing but a front. Under the guise of numerous fake film festivals, the APWF asks for entry fees (at twenty dollars a pop) but no screenings, judging, or awarding ever takes place. (I’ve revised my take on the awards. See the updates below.)

Let’s go back to the beginning. Some months ago, my friend Dave was browsing through FilmFestivals.com, a resource he has used often over the years. He came upon an entry for the Chicago Short Film Festival, associated with APWF. He followed the links, filled out the online form, and paid his money via credit card. He then mailed off his short film and hoped for the best.

Later on, Dave wanted to find out the results of the competition. Unfortunately, there weren’t any recent results on the website — in fact, we first had trouble finding the site at all. (I’ll get to the domain name confusion in a minute.) Eventually, he tried writing the APWF by email.

He received an unusual form letter in response. It purported that his short film…

…has been preselected
for the Chicago Short Film Festival.
The definitive Official Selection and Awards
will be published after December 20, 2006.

We do not need that you send a new copy.
The Jury will display the films for evaluation,
in the approved digital format.
There will be no public screenings, the results will be announced by
Internet and distributed by International Press Media.

For promotion purposes, we would be thankful if you send us to
chicago@festivalinfo.us, with the title of the film as subject,
a digital still of the film (jpg or gif) and a brief phrase
(no more than a pair of lines) about the film.
Please do not send heavy pictures, little files are better for Internet
promotion.

Best regards,

Chicago Short Film Festival
chicago@festivalinfo.us

Okay, not the best written letter, but not too bad. And there are plenty of “virtual” fests out there, so it’s somewhat believable. So what’s the problem?

Their email didn’t work. Why would they ask for JPGs & info with a bum email address?

So Dave asked me to do some digging. The more I found out, the worse it looked. I found a whole series of abandoned domain names and email addresses associated with program figurehead Carlos Martinez. There’s no whois record for festivalinfo.us, but you can see another related search result here:

http://whois.domaintools.com/festivalinfo.info

One of the things I’ve learned managing websites is that spammers are notorious for gobbling up domain names with the US, INFO, and BIZ suffixes. Add to that the issue of Carlos hopping domains and emails often, and you’ve got some big red flags.

So where’s the main APWF website now? Check out this ridiculous website address:

http://www.mamut.com/homepages/United%5FStates/2/9/filmfestnews/

If you reduce the address to mamut.com, you’ll see that Mamut is a business site out of Norway. A bit unusual for a film group supposedly run out of Beverly Hills, don’t you think? The red flags are flying.

Now Dave’s no fool. He’s entered dozens of festivals a year for the last several years. I can see why he might not have noticed a problem when he entered the fest. With a name like Chicago Short Film Festival, it sounded like a good thing, right? I took another look at the APWF site and found a surprising amount of vague information.

There’s no mention of who will be judging, what the prizes are, or any actual dates for festivals and awards. The only “official” name on the site is Carlos Martinez. The website has pictures of people receiving awards, but I suspect these bullets of news and film info are swiped from other festival websites.

Calls placed to the APWF phone number resulted in fax noises and disconnects.

Annual Programs Without Frontiers solicits for the following festivals. They all have similar, generic names. As far as I can tell, none of these festivals exist:

Chicago Short Film Festival
San Francisco Short Film Festival
New York Short Film Festival
Short Film Festival of Los Angeles
Documentary & Fiction Festival of Hollywood
Golden Gate Fiction & Documentary Festival
Philadelphia Documentary & Fiction Festival

There is a mention of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the only established festival. Do they know APWF is using their name?

Armed with so many suspicions, I posted on a few message boards looking for answers. One helpful person (thanks, Richard) found an article from Variety blowing the whistle on this scheme from 2003, four years ago.

From http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117889181.html?categoryid=1061&cs=1

Inside Move: Faux fest circuit
Interpol tips tyros to Internet fraud
By DAVID ROONEY
Posted: Sun., Jul. 13, 2003, 6:00am PT

As if impoverished filmmakers struggling to get noticed didn’t have enough to contend with.

Interpol has issued a computer crime warning concerning a Web site billing itself as the Film Festivals Intl. Federation or Annual Program Without Frontiers.

The site — www.filmart.org — purports to represent a number of film fests both in the U.S. and abroad, including the New York Short Film Festival, Golden Gate Fiction & Documentary Festival, Honolulu Intl. Festival, Festival de Cine de Granada and Festival de Court Metrage de Lyon.

The fests all share generic names that are close to existing events, but under closer inspection, no concrete evidence can be found that these fests have ever taken place. (None of them appears on Variety’s annual film fest guide either.)

A check on fest Web site ww.filmfestivals.com lists each fest with no direct contact aside from the Santa Monica phone/fax number given on the filmart homepage. Several calls to this number elicited only a fax reply.

Filmmakers trying to access data on these alleged fests are invited to email the site, which reportedly generates a response instructing the would-be fest entrant to submit a copy of the film, together with a submission fee.

A Web investigation of filmart.org’s origins produces fuzzy results, tracing the page back to a Norwegian hosting service.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. (US)

Validation! Mr. Rooney of Variety and I found much of the same evidence, plus Interpol is wise to these shysters.

But that was 2003. How are they still scheming filmmakers?

Our next step was to write to filmfestivals.com. Surely they’d be interested to know that they’re (unknowingly?) helping to promote a scam such as this.

Here’s where it gets shady.

Up until now, I had been giving filmfestivals.com the benefit of the doubt, that they were listing the bogus fests without knowledge of any wrong-doing. I wanted to post on the FF message board, but it was no longer in service.

Guess what happened when Dave tried writing to the FF site? Some emails bounced, and some just went unanswered. He wrote politely, as a concerned filmmaker. Finally, one of his emails with the subject line “Scam festivals and their supportive sites” got the attention of webmaster Bruno Chatelin. Bruno sent a cryptic response, apparently wounded by Dave’s insinuation. He didn’t offer any information about APWF, however.

Email removed at Bruno Chatelin’s request

I should point out that Bruno is French. His apparent flip-flopping between defensiveness and gratitude (sarcasm?) could be the result of bad English.

At the same time, I had written a letter to Bruno myself. Here’s a truncated version, so you can see the polite, businesslike tone I used:

Dear Bruno:

I have a film festival scam I’d like to report, but it seems the scam area on the filmfestivals.com site is missing.

It has come to my attention that the Annual Program Without Frontiers group and the associated festivals is not legitimate. From what I can tell, the “organization” takes entry fees and pretends to give out awards. The festivals they list on the (horribly designed) website are imaginary.

Emails to “Carlos Martinez” go unanswered and the listed phone number is inactive.

My next step is to alert Paypal and Verisign to prevent future payments to this fraudulent organization.

This should be a concern to you, because your site does promote them…

And now, the crowning glory. One of the most hilarious examples of ENGRISH I have ever seen. Bruno forwarded my email to Carlos, who got back to me posthaste:

Dear Mike Boas

I have received from Bruno Chatelin (filmfestivals.com) your e-mail with negative asseverations about the Annual Program Without Frontiers and its associated festivals.

We are small yet, with a correct procedure in a new way and many cinema lovers work pleasantly next to us. Our festivals are developed by Internet, with real films, evaluation and awards.

Some people do not easily understand a non-traditional way. We strongly believe in this effort without technical, economic, cultural and political frontiers.

Those people who are not in agreement with our rules and regulations, exposed clearly before the entrance form, simply do not choose to register themselves. If somebody change his mind, and prefer to leave a festival before publication of the results, we always refund the entry fee.

Our communications are very slow yet, we are working on this problem.

I usually respond e-mails within a week, sometimes when I am in a film production can be a greater delay. Our phone receives fax all the time and only receives calls when we can answer them.

I hope your opinion on us improves in the future. If you have suggestions to improve our services, please let me know.

Best regards,

Carlos Martinez
director@festivalinfo.info

I am now more convinced than ever that APWF is a scam. You don’t run a program for over four years and send out babel-fish letters like that, even if English isn’t your native language.

Dave’s response from Bruno is disheartening:

Email removed at Bruno Chatelin’s request

He essentially said he passed on Dave’s email and wiped his hands of the issue.

What does it mean that the person who runs a resource like filmfestivals.com DOESN’T CARE that he’s possibly promoting a scam? Could it be that the FF site is complicit?

It may sound paranoid, but there are some sketchy aspects to the filmfestivals.com site. Bad links and bad emails. The “report a scam” bulletin board has disappeared. In addition to APWF listings, there are also prominent listings for the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, an event that has raised the ire of many a filmmaker. (See my run-down of the New York rip-off fest here ) According to Google searches, Bruno’s main claim to fame is as a viral marketer.

But I’m not prepared to point fingers at FF yet. I’m hoping to get some responses from fellow filmmakers on the subject. Has anyone had bad dealings with filmfestivals.com? Let me know!

So, what’s next? I plan to contact Paypal and Verisign to report the APWF fraud. I should also write the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, to see if they know about being featured on the APWF site. This has been an unusual journey, a mystery that unfolds day by day. I only hope that posting this online will help dissuade others from contributing funds to the Annual Program Without Frontiers.

UPDATE, February 22

After communicating with filmmaker “Momo” (see comments below), I now believe APWF does give out awards. Could this be the bare minimum to keep the authorites from smashing down the door? Signed “diplomas” are emailed to winners. Sometimes. Momo has yet to receive 2 of the 4 he was told to expect. See one of his diplomas here. (Names blacked out per his request.) Momo’s film info and picture were listed on pages at the mamut.com website.

This raises the question, what is the definition of a film festival? Can it be broad enough to include an anonymous organization with a misleading website that does not screen films for an audience? Can the term be attributed to a person who goes through festival names and domain addresses like toilet paper?

Maybe an award is nothing more than a piece of paper, but it should signify recognition by your peers. When you take away the screenings, the networking opportunities, distribution, and prizes… a virtual festival’s emailed diploma signifies little to me.

UPDATE, March 12 2007
I sent email inquiries to several members of Argentina’s Mar del Plata film festival, but did not receive any answers. Granted, there’s a language barrier, but I was hoping for some sort of response. They do have an English version of their website, after all.

Meanwhile, Dave was given a full refund of his entry fee, WHICH HE NEVER ASKED FOR. I guess Carlos assumed Dave was dissatisfied. And to think, all this started because Dave wrote to ask if and when the judging results for the Chicago Short Film Festival would be posted. If those questions were answered in the first place, we probably wouldn’t have done all this research into the APWF’s practices. By the way, the refund came from a new account, the 1st Int. Cinema Ferancho Cuc Amoca.

Update, April 9 2007

I’ve received another belligerent email from Bruno Chatelin, who asked that his name and emails be removed from this blog. (How belligerent? The word “excrement” was used.) Much as I hate to admit it, according to the rules of copyright, emails shouldn’t be reposted without permission. I could argue fair use, but I’ll err on the side of caution and take them out. I only included them in the first place so readers could interpret his words for themselves.

There’s no reason to remove Bruno’s name from this story, however. Especially since he’s never made any attempt to answer my questions. Does he approve of APWF’s practices? Does APWF pay for ad space and/or listings on filmfestivals.com? What am I supposed to think when he doesn’t comment?

COMMENTS

18 comments to Scam Film Fest: Annual Program Without Frontiers

  • GMW

    Nice job Mike.

    What kills me is that this guy would put so much energy into a bogus film festival. I mean the entry fee was $20, right? How many people do you think he’s scammed? Even at 100, we are talking a couple grand. Seems to me it would make more sense to actually run a legitimate festival.

    Has he even offered to refund the entry fee yet?

  • VEry surprised to to read the above!

    What makes you think you can reproduce my correspondance (to you or to Dave) without asking my permission.
    Have you seen this anywhere on the web on a decent website?

    You are giving a biased trashy version of facts truncatting correspondance, bragging about your politeness or Dave’s polite tone…

    So elegant from you to criticise my usage of english? just try writing to me in french and make me laugh . ooops please don’t; no time for that.

    When I was a film distributor (managing director for Fox and Columbia TriStar theatrical in France) my Los Angeles execs never complained or laughed at my french maybe your standards are different.

    My english was bad and not “spell checked” because I have been agressed and felt insulted by Dave’s tone in his first line to me: WHY DID’NT YOU PUBLISH HIS EMAIL TO ME (editor) IT STARTED LIKE THAT

    “My last email to you bounced back and I am wondering if your whole
    site is in question.

    I believe you may be supporting scam film festivals site…” Not even hello, or whatever…Still in search of a response from filmfestivals.com to see if you
    should be included in the Blog Worlds’ search for film festival
    scammers and their supportive festival sites.”
    THIS IS WHAT YOU DESCRIBE AS POLITE I quote you (may I?)
    “He wrote politely, as a concerned filmmaker.”
    So our site is fake and we support scam! thank you

    If Dave wants my attention then tell him to start by beeing polite enough.

    He complained, and you did too, that emails did not reach the festival: I took some time to check that, and got the festival director to answer directly with you.

  • Momo

    Well if this film festival is a scam then that’s really sad cause I’ve paid for 4 of them. I’ve sent my movie to those guys and won 3 awards and an official selection.

    Official selection: New York short film f.
    LA short Film.F.(winner)
    Strasbourg F.F.(winner) I’ve got a diploma written in french. if this fest doesn’t exist then who wrote it? SOme “french guy”?.
    Philadelphia Docu and fiction fest.(winner)

    The awards(the official selction and the strasbourg f.f.) were just diplomas that I printed off my computer, nothing fancy.

    I’m still waiting on my other “diplomas or certificates” It’s been almost a year since i’ve won the festivals and only got two diplomas out of 4.

    I’ve written several emails to them and never got a single answer.

    My movie is now on IMDB.com, I tried to update the awards I’ve won from the APWF but the administrators from IMDB told me that the festivals can’t be loaded into my page because they’re not legit although very similar to other festivals.

    IMDB is going to fix this and maybe delete all the fake festivals that have something to do with APWF. Sorry folks!

    I personally wont be submmiting more videos to this website.I will spread the news to my fellow filmmakers. Thanks to IMDB and to the honest people behind this “scam” study.

  • Momo, I’d like to hear more about your experience. (I’ll send you an email, too.)

    1) Did the APWF inform you by email or phone that you had won something?

    2) When they emailed you certificates to print out, what did they say?

    3) Did information about you and your film(s) appear on their website?

    4) I’ve noticed that IMDB does have some listings for APWF events. Too bad those listings are “good” while your references to them are “bad”!

  • Bruno,

    I’m glad you’re taking an interest in my research.

    My purpose in reproducing our correspondence is to expose the possible fraud of Annual Program Without Frontiers. If you have anything to say in their defense or in defense of your website, I’d gladly repost that here.

    It’s interesting that your letter of complaint focuses on my supposed insult to your nationality and my degree of politeness, while ignoring the other issues I have with your attitude and website.

    For the record, I was not laughing at your French. I was making the point that my problem interpreting the tone of your emails may have been because of a language barrier.

    Maybe I should ask you straight out:

    1) When you referred to a “phony subject,” were you dismissing Dave’s concerns as phony?

    2) When you said “It feels like we needed that,” did you mean “thanks for pointing out a possible scam” or were you being sarcastic?

    3) When you told Dave “Nothing I can do more,” why did you not express concern at supporting a possible scam?

    Did I jump the gun posting this blog? I don’t think so. The facts as I understand them are as follows.

    A) Interpol investigated Annual Program Without Frontiers for fraud.

    B) Filmfestivals.com supports APWF by carrying their listings and promoting them on its bulletin page.

    I am eager to hear from other filmmakers and festival reps on this subject. I’d like to get to the truth and share it with the community.

  • Padre

    Hi

    Here is another proud award winner. I can very much share the suspicions raised here in this blog. The way the “Annual Program Without Frontiers” is being operated is very obscure. There is no information what so ever to be found anywhere on how the festival works. As an award winner I would be very interested in knowing who actually gave me this award, who was the jury, how many films were selected etc.
    If this is not a scam I would urgently advise Mr Carlos Martinez to make this event more transparent.
    As far as the first comment by GMW is concerned: I am sure that far more than 100 people paid their 20$, I would estimate at least a 100 a year per event (especially shorts, there are millions of them). That would be 100x8x20=16.000 $ (there is also the FESTIVAL DE CINE INTERNACIONAL DE BARCELONA now). If it is a scam it would certainly help paying the festival director’s rent.

    I also love your warning about the NYIIFV. They tried to urge me once on the phone to hand out my credit card details within 24 hours so they can book 300$ admission fee from it. Luckily your site saved me from being ripped off. Thanks :-)

    *There is a lot of people out there trying to rip off desperate filmmakers. Take care.*

  • “If this is not a scam I would urgently advise Mr Carlos Martinez to make this event more transparent.”

    My thoughts exactly. If they’re on the up and up, they should explain fully how the festivals work.

    Thanks for the comments. I’m glad I could help.

  • Padre

    “There is a mention of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the only established festival. Do they know APWF is using their name?”

    If you have a look at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival site you can actually find a section for the Annual Program Without Frontiers. http://www.mardelplatafilmfest.com/22/programacion_secciones_la_mirada_interior_anual_sin_fronteras_intro_e.php?id=6
    And they do screen a selection of six films. So this surly means that the Mar del Plata fest knows about APWF. And it does give some credit to Mr Martinez.

    So I repeat that if Mr Martinez wants to rid himself from suspicions like those raised here he should really be more generous with information about himself and the inner workings of the APWF. How about maintaining a blog that keeps people up to date on the progress of the single festivals. Also a more informative web site that can actually be navigated without using Google would help.

    This would really be in everybody’s interest. Filmmakers would be happy to live without the suspicion to have some bogus awards on their CV and being able to use those credits on ImDB. And it would help the APWF to gain reputation and momentum.

  • Laurent Notaro

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you very much for your investigation and publication, long time I was looking for infos about the APWF and the NY indy fake fest. In fact I won the Director Award at the Golden Gate bla bla fest 2004 and I always had a strange feeling while adding this to my CV: Nobody I know ever heard about it and the mamut address looks so obscure… I received a diploma after 1 year and some e-mails asking about the result. I have to say that the diploma and the website look like made with the feet (French expression)…
    Concerning the NY fake fest, I have had a telephone conversation with “Cindy” who told me that they would give a refund if my film was not selected, then I wrote an e-mail to ask about the publication of the program, the answer was: YOUR FILM IS SELECTED :-), I looked at the website and search for my film: Nothing… I called “Cindy” again, but no answer… I wrote an e-mail and ask for the program again, but it was rejected as they tag me as spam…
    After 3 years the wound is closed (I lost 300$) and I laugh a lot with my friends about the diploma. Sorry for my English, I speak French… If you need help to write a polite letter in French do not hesitate to contact me.

  • Hello,

    Interesting to find this whole article… I’ve been wondering for a while what I had signed into by submitting my short film to several festivals represented by APWF…
    I actually WON a Screenplay award, but I found this out one day on Google by complete coincidence… They had not notified me of such award on my name, and I never received anything at all. I tried sending e-mails to ask a little more about it… No replies ever…

    I suspect the awards to be randomly given, i wish not, but if they are legit, they really have to work on they’re communication and graphic website design…

    The only thing that really works is the Credit Card money sucking page…

    I wish one day to know the truth about these guys and about my “award”…

  • SM

    Hi there, I found APWF website though filmfestival.com which I assumed was a trusted site, and submitted to San Francisco and Barcelona.
    I’ve just recieved today an email from APWF telling me my film has been preselected for the San Francisco Short Film Festival:in exactly the same wording as you printed on your blog. Naturally I was very excited an revisited the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films to see if I was listed in public screening programme, and to my puszzlement learned that it has just been held and my film wasn’t programmed.
    I then revisited the APWF site to try and understand the functioning of award and screening process, but found it’s info extremely vague- and being a first-time self-funded filmmaker, intially put down my confusion down to my ignorance of the film festival system.I even tried to convince myself that perhaps awards are given the year preceeding the public screening in the Festival. THen I found your site…

    It seems pretty clear it’s a scam and I’m very angry that it should be so easy to prey on the myriad of impoverished new filmmakers who are willing to go the extra mile to get noticed.
    I confess that I not only submitted to the Festival International de Cine de Barcelona (APWF) but also the the NYIV Film Fest – which I learned too late, has itself got a pretty ropey reputation amongst filmmakers. So, having been selected, I declined their request to send a screener and be listed in their programme – So in the end, I lost that money too. I’d rather decline such dubious accolades and have my film screened only in reputable festivals: I’m not that desperate!
    In the meantime, what are the results of Interpol investigation? I’m fine to add my own testimonial to their evidence. Bogus organisations, and websites complicit with promoting them should be banned and fined.
    I shall now write to Martinez and ask for explanations and a refund.

  • Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, quite a few people have contacted me with similar stories, although yours is the first in many months.

    I didn’t personally contact Interpol, and the only reference I’ve found to that investigation was the article in Variety from 2003. I did email the writer, but never heard back. Now may be a good time to contact Variety and other media again — you may want to do the same. Aside from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, we could write to the Independent, Film Threat, Filmmaker Magazine, and others.

    If you’re looking for more reputable festivals, I recommend consulting withoutabox.com and their message boards. I never got anything but animosity from the head of filmfestivals.com, so I advise against using that site.

    Best of luck with your endeavors!

    -M

  • Firebird

    HI There,

    I just wanted to tell you, that I have the same problem! I just received an “award” and now I am totally annoyed of these APWF -Stuff.

    I also had phoned with “Cindy” some months ago. but somehow I had a bad feeling about the NY Festival and 300$ is quite much so I did not send in my short film.

    Let me tell you about my experience:
    I have send my film to 3 Festivals this year. San Francisco/ Cine Barcelona/ L.A. Short Film Festival
    Because I haven’t heard anything About it I just thought that (like so regular festivals do) my film wasn’t selected and the festival just does not send out “not accepted”-Emails. But now -very late I got an award and they say there is no public screening.

    I searched around a bit because I wanted to see what kind of reputation the festival has and luckily found your page.

    Now I know that I will never send a film to a Festival that is just fake!!
    Thank you guys for your work!

    I hope many, many filmmakers will read your investigation-story!

    All the best,
    Firebird
    (from Germany)

  • olatz

    Hello Mike,
    I dont know if you go on with this inquiry, but APWF continues in the same way. I write you from spain (so, i can write to Mar de Plata Fest) and this year i have been awarded from Festival of Granada (best documentary), Festival of strasbourg (special mention) and right now i’ve got the diploma from festival du bruxelles for being selected.
    Thanks to your report, which is exactly as APWF goes, I feel free from mentioned them in my film as they rule (Prizes, the Festival and the Program must be mentioned in all public display and promotion material of the films awarded). I was really worried about this point because everything seemed strange to me. The most one: the diplomas, which are all similar and too simple, are signed from people who dont exist (bruxelles one is signed by alain robinet which is a quite famous french poet and im sure is not him).
    What about the other filmmaker who have been awarded? Should we write them to ask?
    What about to the city councils of the citys they use?

    Thank you very much and have a nice christmas days,
    Best,
    Olatz

  • tru hel

    Hi Mike
    I am a film maker from Australia. After looking into APWF I was relieved to find your website that clarified my suspicions, that the festivals they advertise and “represent” are all bogus and they send awards to film makers to keep them quiet and satisfied.
    My suspicions were raised when I discovered that the festivals themselves did not have postal addresses and that all films were to be sent to some address in santa monica. You must admit their set up is quite sophisticated and seems to make sense but when you try and find the festivals that’s when it all falls apart.
    On discovering your site however I was sad to see that this situation has been going on for a number of years now and this site continues to opperate.
    What can we do as a community of film maker “with out borders” to stop them!
    Regards
    Tru hel

  • cine99

    Hi, I just want to say that, per your correspondance with filmfestivals.com, I’ve done the same in uncovering scamming at the Hoboken Film Festival recently and, while a lot of people were happy to find out, just like on here, I also got a lot of flak for it. Even supposedly legitimate film festivals will fight tooth and nail for you not to reveal the ones that are a scam which I can’t, for the life of me, figure out. For instance, google “film festivals are a scam” and you will find an old board on filmthreat.com where one of the programmers from Slamdance goes on, at length, defending certain practices which, for some reason, send off bad signals in my brain.

    The thing that I uncovered at the Hoboken fest was that the programmer and chair of the fest puts his own films front and center… meaning the opening night gala, the closing night gala, a regular slot, etc. We’re not talking that it’s playing in a sidebar to soothe his ego… you’d think his are the ONLY films in the fest, the way that it is run. To me, this is wrong, just as it is to a number of other people. A news website ran a side-by-side of the trailer for my film and the trailer for his film, and the only reason I allowed that is that his was so laughably bad that I thought it was a no-brainer that the festival is a scam. Now, if he were just joe schmoe who entered his film, there’s no argument from my end. I just have to look at what gets into that festival, see that it’s crap, and realize that it must be down to nepotism. But it’s THE PROGRAMMER’S FILMS. To me, that’s just not right when you’re taking filmmaker’s hard earned money and it’s a red flag that it’s a waste of time to enter your film there.

    But no… I got a lot of people telling me, “Oh you’re a whiner, you’re pathetic, it’s all subjective, etc.” Just like the ‘whiners’ on that Film Threat board, I find that the argument with these people can go in endless circles where they ultimately wear you out and make it APPEAR as though they’ve torn down your arguments but what’s really happened is you’re just tired and realize it’s getting you and indie filmmaking nowhere. Like I said, I’ve found that most sources for this stuff don’t seem to have any interest in helping out indie filmmakers by making a comprehensive list of scam festivals or festivals where certain things raise red flags. To be honest, I believe the entire festival atmosphere has gone bad with the advent of HD and micro budget cinema, because there is a high likelihood that the sheer volume of films now being made is the reason most festival exist, yet it’s also the reason most of them aren’t the up-and-up.

    There really is no way for filmmakers to know what happens when you send your DVD to XYZ film festival and how much of a festival is programmed through connections and nepotism versus merit of the work. I myself have even defended the nepotism in this post, because both myself and friends have gotten our films to play fests simply because we worked with one of the organizers or moved in the same circles, but really, is that right? Not that our films were horrendous, but might there have been far more deserving work among the pile of rejects? It goes both ways… and it’s one of the reasons I’m plan on almost avoiding them entirely in the future.

    Besides this, any investigative article or piece that is critical of the selection process at major festivals is often met with vociferous protests. There are the reasonable minded people who see what’s going on and are willing to call a spade a spade, and then there are those who have a million and one excuses as to why this is the way it MUST be. Sorry, but I’m suspicious of anything that’s ABOVE criticism, and that’s the way that festivals have been portrayed by the festival elite (if there is such a thing.)

  • Sas-film

    Ah! I feel like an idiot- I just gave these guys $20 last night. I was a little suspicious but I submitted anyway, and now I am kicking myself for being so stupid. Any advice on how to get money back from these scammers? They need to be stopped!

  • josh

    I don’t know how old this thread is, but I just got an e-mail saying I was official selected for my short film. Then nothing happen, so I started doing some research and found this thread.

    I read Bruno’s comment about being a film distributor at Fox in France, which is hilarious. Unless he’s using some code name, I know for a fact that he has never worked in the professional industry. Look up his name on imdbpro.com and no one comes up under that name. If he worked for any major company in the industry, he would have had his name in the database.

    I love how this guy tries to bullshit to look important. What bull.

    Anyways, I got scammed too. Won’t happen again.