Just like every year for the past four years, the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival had a successful show in sunny San Diego this past Thanksgiving weekend. This year the festival welcomed films from around the globe including first-time countries such as Austria, Belgium, Belize, Congo, Lebanon, Trinidad, Turkey and Venezuela. The festival received submissions in all categories and in various genres. Leading categories were Shorts at 46%, Documentary 21%, Animation 14%, Features 7%, followed by Music videos, Experimental, TV Shows and Webcasts.
While showcasing films that were made in the past two years, the festival also selected works done by filmmakers before 2009. Having a pre-2008 category allowed the festival to select and showcase films that were made before the inception of the festival and were worthy of recognition. About 18% of the submissions were from this category. Most of the films shown at this year’s festival had not been seen in the region before – 23% were World Premiers, 21% International, 7% North America, 19% United States and the rest were San Diego premiers. This year’s selection lives up to our mission of recognizing and introducing unique and quality films from around the globe.
The festival opened its doors to the audience and filmmakers on Friday, November 26th and adjourned on Sunday, November 28th, 2010. Over three days of meet-and-greet and two days of screenings, more than 40 films were shown from all categories and in all lengths. Many filmmakers attended the festival; they came from the neighbor cities of Orange County and Los Angeles to the farthest states of Illinois and Florida. Each filmmaker was given an ample amount of time after their film’s screening to speak about it and answer any questions from the audience. This format, which has been used for the past few years, has allowed the audience and filmmakers to connect immediately after a screening and begin a discussion that continues even after the screenings.
The festival audiences were both local residents and other participants who had come from all over the United States and Canada. What drew them together over the weekend to this festival was their eagerness to see films that somehow enlighten their hearts and intrigue their minds. Among the audience was the director of the national Baha’i Media Services who had flown from Chicago to network with filmmakers, encourage the production of positive media and read a letter dedicated to this year’s honoree.
The Dawn Breakers International Film Festival honored the life and works of William “Bill” Sears, a popular yesteryear radio and television personality who had achieved excellence both in the field of media and as a Baha’i in service to mankind. A letter written in his honor by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of United States was read during the dedication ceremony, followed by a video presentation highlighting a few glimpses of his life.
While the festival is an independent non-profit organization operated by a diverse group of filmmakers, we continue our goal of recognizing films that somehow explore an aspect of the Baha’i faith, a world-embracing vision for the betterment of the physical and spiritual life of humanity. Whereas 33% of the submissions came from Baha’i filmmakers, the majority was by filmmakers of all backgrounds from every corner of the globe exploring a theme of interest to the festival.
On Sunday, November 28th, the festival came to an end after a weekend of successful screenings, networking opportunities and a step towards social change through the powerful tool of moving images.
As we write this year’s report, many of our selections are being showcased in other festivals around the world; some are collecting awards and recognitions in various venues and a few of them are on their way to this year’s Academy Awards.
As to next year’s festival, where will it be or not be? That is the question.