ResFest enlarges digital experience

Growing touring fest adds stops to meet demand

Think the only way to watch digital short films is alone at the computer? Thanks to ResFest, (www.resfest.com) lovers of innovative digital filmmaking can see cool little films in state-of-the-art movie theater settings.

“Internet distribution doesn’t replace the need for the big-screen, big-crowd, communal cinema experience,” says ResFest co-founder Jonathan Wells, editorial director for ResMedia Group, the company that produces ResFest and Res: The Magazine of Digital Filmmaking. “That’s what ResFest is all about — there’s a real sense of community. You don’t get that if you’re going to watch films on your TV set or computer.”

Started in San Francisco in 1997, ResFest has mushroomed into a multi-city, multifaceted program that has played a role in raising the profiles of now-hot directors such as Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham, whose works were featured in earlier tours.

The touring fest includes a showcase of short films, features, music videos and multimedia projects, hands-on demonstrations of digital filmmaking tools and panel discussions tailored for each city.

Last year’s sold out six-city tour attracted 20,000 attendees. Entries have almost doubled every year. For this tour, organizers sifted through 1,200 submissions.

In answer, the festival has added more cities and more individualized panels.

Along with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Tokyo, ResFest 2000 travels to Seattle, Osaka, Seoul, London and Montreal.

This year, panels include an industry pitch session for San Francisco dates and “Net Cinema 2000,” in Los Angeles, a panel and screening program focusing specifically on Internet films and animation.