Students and staff joined film enthusiasts, festival attendees and filmmakers at Spalding’s Egan Leadership Center (ELC) Lectorium – one of six screening venues – showcasing seven of this year’s top film submissions from around the world.
LIFF provides a platform for independent filmmakers to show their work to wider audiences and fosters Kentucky’s growing film industry by supporting investments of time and resources in all facets of production. In addition, it gives film goers a chance to screen artistic films in non-commercial venues. Films viewed on Spalding’s campus were chosen based on themes of compassion – transformations of life and triumph over tragedy – selected from a multitude of features, shorts, documentaries and other categories, with over 250 submissions from nearly 50 countries.
Among the many highlights of the four-day festival was a second-screening of the opening night film, The Wedding Pact, with performances by Hayley Duff; Louisville native and LIFF founder Conrad Bachmann; and L.A.-based actress Leslie Esterbrook.
Bachmann included Spalding as a screening venue because the Egan Leadership Center (ELC) Lectorium provided an “educational setting that is ideal for film festival participants.”
After viewing the film at the ELC Lectorium, cast member Esterbrook commented that it was “the best screening experience of the festival,” which includes screening locations at the Muhammad Ali Center, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and other downtown venues. “[Spalding] is a short distance from the Galt House in downtown, which gives people a chance to get out and see more of the city.” According to Esterbrook, having an academic institution as a LIFF partner brings a greater sense of legitimacy to the wider film festival goals.
“The element of the [ELC] as an educational setting was perfect, because we’re flying in from all over the world to attend this festival,” Esterbrook explains. “We’re not just here to enjoy the films. We’re here to evaluate them as well. It’s one of the primary responsibilities we have as filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, and film-lovers. To give input, feedback, is one of our primary responsibilities.”
Esterbrook and others said they are excited about the potential role Spalding can continue to play in supporting LIFF and the wider goals of film production in Louisville and throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. “The power of film” as a vehicle for education, transformation and inspiration, “is not something we take lightly,” Esterbrook explains. “Films have the power to change minds, to change hearts, to change lives. What we aim to do is make film a legitimate field of study. It’s not just fantasy, it’s so far reaching. [Film] teaches so many people,” Esterbrook says.
Esterbrook, as well as other filmmakers and festival attendees commented that Spalding has the potential to play a major part in fostering creativity and supporting film arts in the city and wider region. “The [ELC] venue was fabulous – the facilities were great, the picture was fantastic, the sound was wonderful,” Esterbrook says. In addition, “The university staff were very friendly and helpful, and the stage would be perfect for a post-screening panel discussion.”
According to Bachmann, LIFF proudly promotes Louisville as a “destination city for film production,” supports local and state-wide arts, culture and tourism, and provides funding and scholarships for public school film programs and aspiring young filmmakers.