Fear of Rejection
Film festival season is upon us. Sundance begins this week, followed by dozens of festivals over the next 4 months. I feel festivals should be a key part of the distribution strategy for GrowthBusters. The film easily attracts enlightened audiences who already understand the scale of the human enterprise has outgrown the planet. We’ve reached a deadly level of combined population size and economic throughput. The challenge is to raise awareness among those who haven’t yet gotten the message. Festivals are a great opportunity to reach audiences who otherwise might not hear about the film or be inspired to attend a community screening.
So I spent the last of our film budget on festival entry fees as 2011 came to a close. This month the notices of rejection or acceptance have begun to come in.
The good news is GrowthBusters has been selected to screen at the Cosmic Cine Filmfestival 2012 – Awakening of the Blue Planet. Each year this festival screens films related to consciousness and change. Clearly GrowthBusters is a perfect match for this festival. From mid-April to mid-May the festival will tour five cities in Germany, culminating with an awards ceremony in Frankfurt. I thank the festival’s programmers for recognizing the importance of GrowthBusters.
The bad news is GrowthBusters did not make the cut at the Sedona, Phoenix, Byron Bay, Thin Line, and Boulder International film festivals. Particularly disappointing was a rejection from the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, right here in my back yard.
These festivals don’t give us the reasons for their decisions, so I’m left to guess. It could be that GrowthBusters just isn’t that good a film. I know it is far from perfect, but I also know it is important, audacious and unique in style and approach. So I suspect the film is being passed over because of the population taboo. One of the subjects of the film, this taboo is a reluctance to address the topic of overpopulation. There are various reasons, including a fear of offending religious beliefs, reproductive freedom, pro-life interests, economic inequity and a widespread belief that we can’t do anything about population growth.
We’ve not yet heard final decisions from 14 other festivals. I remain hopeful, but it will be heartbreaking, and very telling, if the lion’s share of these choose to ignore the film. I’ll be forced to face the cold, hard reality – either the film sucks, or the taboo is even stronger than I thought. I’m crossing my fingers. The message of GrowthBusters is too critical for it to be ignored.
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