The Chilliwack Independent Film Festival is only two years old, but already it’s garnered international accolades.
Out of more than 7,000 film festivals from around the globe, CIFF placed in the top 100 on FilmFreeway.com — that’s the top 1.4 per cent worldwide.
“For only our second year, I didn’t think it would be realistic, so it was great to see we got into the top 100 from just our second edition,” says CIFF founder Taras Groves. “We’re the youngest on the list so far which makes it even more surprising.”
FilmFreeway is essentially the industry standard platform that filmmakers and festivals use (think of it as the Facebook for connecting the two). Filmmakers use FilmFreeway to submit their movies to various festivals; festival organizers then choose which films from those submission to screen at their festival.
The review process for the top 100 is done solely by filmmakers who have been accepted into a festival. It’s a five-star rating system where filmmakers rate aspects such as overall quality of the festival, atmosphere, communication, and networking possibilities for other filmmakers.
“It’s a very fair reviewing process as it’s done just by filmmakers who have been accepted into the festival,” he says. “So you can’t get all of your buddies or friends to leave reviews like a lot of different platforms where it becomes almost a popularity contest, as well as you can’t have disgruntled filmmakers who didn’t get into the festival leave negative reviews.”
Currently, CIFF is number 88 out of 100. The list is updated daily, so as other festivals around the world take place (and as reviews come in for those festivals), CIFF can move up or down the list. Additionally, filmmakers who were part of CIFF and who have not yet reviewed the festival can also have an impact on CIFF’s placement in the top 100.
“We’re currently only the third festival in Canada to be on the list. The only one in B.C.,” he adds.
The inaugural CIFF took place in the fall of 2017. That year the festival had 110 movie submissions, and Groves narrowed it down to 29. This year, more than 170 films were submitted, 33 of which made the cut.
If you go to filmfreeway.com/ChilliwackIndependentFilmFestival, you’ll see the FilmFreeway Top 100 Best Reviewed badge, something Groves says he’s proud of.
“CIFF is definitely one of the film festivals in British Columbia that everyone should see. Excellent programming, great communication and very accommodating,” writes filmmaker Kent Donguines in his review on the local festival.
“The breadth and quality of films screened at this festival was incredible. The organizers selected a wonderful programme of inspiring, beautiful stories. There is a lot of talent in British Columbia; and simply put, CIFF did it right,” writes another filmmaker, Brandon Thompson. “The amount of effort, passion and professionalism put into this event by its team of volunteers made it quite exceptional.”
Groves says he’s hoping the rating will entice even more filmmakers to submit their work to CIFF, plus he’s hoping it will let the public know they’re here to stay and grow.
“We saw our audience double this year and hopefully it generates even more support and gets more people coming to the festival next year and supporting independent film.”
“It wouldn’t be possible without all the support from our volunteers and sponsors and the general public so far,” says Groves. “A win for Chilliwack overall.”