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Greenwich Film Founders Get 'Reel' On Festival One Year Later

Left to right: Colleen deVeer, Wendy Reyes, Carina Crain, founders of The Greenwich International Film Festival.
Left to right: Colleen deVeer, Wendy Reyes, Carina Crain, founders of The Greenwich International Film Festival. Photo Credit: Submitted

GREENWICH, Conn. -- It's been a year since Greenwich residents Carina Crain, Wendy Reyes and Colleen deVeer produced their first annual Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) (see previous Daily Voice story HERE ).

Now, as they approach their second year -- GIFF starts Thursday, June 9 -- Daily Voice sat down with them for an update on what's new, what's changed and what they're most looking forward to.

Daily Voice: So, how does it feel doing GIFF the second time around?

Colleen deVeer: What I learned most was just how last minute a scramble the programming becomes because so many different puzzle pieces fall into place in the eleventh hour. We have, however, made great relationships with studios, distributors and filmmakers and they seem to be confident in our vision and strategy for the Festival as well as in our taste in film.

Wendy Reyes: With just one year under our belt, we've come a very long way in establishing GIFF as a boutique film festival that is like no other in North America. The quality of our panels, parties, and films this year is absolutely top notch.

Carina Crain: It’s truly incredible what this amazing group of women has accomplished. I'm so excited to attend all the events the programming team has put together.

DV: Anything specific you're each looking forward to?

CdV: I'm particularly excited for the John Turturro conversation. I'm also excited for all of the films; it's hard to narrow the list because we chose each film for a different reason. As a whole, they make a spectacular and cohesive story.

As far as panels go, again, they will ALL be spectacular. My good friend Richard Brener, president of production at New Line Cinema, has put together several comedy heavy hitters which include American Pie’s Chris Bender, Zoolander’s Stuart Cornfeld, and Central Intelligence’s, Peter Principato and Actor, Will Arnett [Arrested Development] to discuss the business of comedy.

WR: I think the Changemaker Gala will be very powerful this year. I'm absolutely in awe of Trudie Styler and the way she has relentlessly used her voice to create positive social change in the world, and having a young starlet like Abigail Breslin be passionate about this kind of change makes me very hopeful.

I'm also looking forward to our panels including The Big Business of Comedy, Women at The Top, and From Book to Screen. The Children’s Acting Workshop this year will be even more interactive with The Jungle Book’s Neel Sethi and Peyton List from Disney Channel’s Bunk’d participating.

CC: I'm honestly looking forward to everything but in particular the panel Driving Social Change Through Investments in Film. Filmmakers need financial help to get their stories told, and putting them in a room with potential financiers is brilliant!

Daily Voice: It seems you've branched out more this year. Is that part of your plan?

CdV : Our hope is to continue to grow the festival more and more each year. Deborah Royce, co-founder of The Avon Theatre in Stamford generously offered to be our venue partner. The Theatre has a robust following and we hope to get their followers interested in what we're doing.

We've also introduced a new Jewish Film Series and are partnering with the JCC Greenwich and AJC Westchester/Fairfield to present a wonderful line-up of Jewish-themed content.

Down the line, we’d like to further ingratiate the broader film industry and hope that GIFF becomes a destination, a market, where films are bought and sold.

WR: We've made a concerted effort to partner with local arts organizations and to work with them to create a strong visual arts community. The more voices and points of view we have in a room the more dynamic and interesting GIFF will be.

DV: Anything else worth mentioning?

CdV: Ondi Timoner will be screening her film "Nature of the Beast," a documentary about Bonnie Foreshaw who, at the time of the film, was serving the longest prison sentence of anyone in Connecticut--- 45 years without parole. We will have Ondi in attendance to speak about the film after the screening.

WR: I love that we've shifted the model to become a platform for human rights issues this year. This initiative will be supported via a portion of our programming, panels and through financial donations to our charity partners.

I'm incredibly proud that we're not only building a thriving visual arts community in Greenwich, but we are using that platform to bring awareness and financial assistance to marginalized people around the world.

Go to www.greenwichfilm.org/ for a full slate of events.

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