A successful Film Festival involves countless hours of planning, preparation, and networking; and I found the wide variety of films, special guests, panels, and events fantastic at the Mendocino Film Festival. Program Director Claudia Puig works on the program years in advance; I recently caught up with her to chat about the May 30-June 2, 2019 festival.
One of Puig’s goals is to get people really thinking, even questioning assumptions about art and life in general, and finding ways to articulate their reactions, and to engage in substantive conversations with fellow filmgoers and filmmakers. Providing smaller venues with intimate audiences serves a purpose, as it’s a less intimidating setting. Puig observed filmgoers during the festival comfortably asking smart, incisive questions of the filmmakers during the Q&As following those smaller screenings. Yes, there are also large venue screenings, with buzz titles; what you will find at the Mendocino Film Festival is variety.
“We had quite a few crowd-pleasing films, but we also had a few that were challenging, not necessarily for everyone,” says Puig. “And I made it a point to moderate those Q&As and observe how the audience responded. I was so heartened to see that festivalgoers embraced the challenges and engaged the filmmakers in frank and intriguing discussions.”
When asked what surprised her the most during the festival?