I thought it might be interesting to note here some of the awards that were given out at the festival, and how some of the movies I saw faired:

Besides rating movies and awarding them prizes based on the audience ballot results, the festival also has a juried competition. This year's jury selected Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance as the Best Feature Film. I think this was a fair selection; Sympathy is an amazing film. The jury also gave an award to one of the other films I saw: Desert Story was declared the Best Animated Short of the festival. It's possible that there were better animated shorts (The Modern Cyclops, for instance, was quite good), but Desert Story was a good choice.

I didn't see any of the films that received audience awards (well, I did happen to see The Freak, which won Best Short, but I caught that one at a different festival, so I'm not sure it counts). The highest rated film I saw according to audience ballots was 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Since that is the only film that I saw in the festival that I now own (I bought it on DVD soon after I'd seen it), I'm pretty happy with its high rating.

Speaking of high ratings, it's interesting to look at the number distribution of the voting results. Most of the films at the festival received a relatively high audience rating. The movies don't get down below a 3 (Good) rating until you get near the very bottom of the list. Does this mean the movies at the festival were just generally of a very high quality? I think they were, but I don't think that can fully explain these results. I discussed this with Sarah and we agreed there are probably a number of contributing factors. First of all, a number of the films at the festival were made by local filmmakers. Also, probably a number of the screenings were attended by the filmmakers themselves, as well as their friends and family. Friends, family, and neighbors are bound to give positive marks to your film. Also, knowing that the filmmaker is actually in the audience might affect your vote. And then there's the fact that most people tend to go to films that they think they'll like, and thus there's probably a higher chance that they'll like them. That last point is arguable, but I think we came up with some good explanations.

Looking at these audience results, I was glad to find Second Name and Trinity at the end of the list (in fact, Trinity sits at the very bottom, the worst film in the festival, with a combined score of only 1.96--the only film to receive less than a 2 [Fair] rating). As I suggested in the epilogue of the last episode of my diary, it's very gratifying and reassuring to discover that a lot of people agree with you, especially when you're afraid you might be wrong. Whenever I have a strong opinion about a movie, I wonder if it's just me, so it was nice to find some cold, hard statistics to back me up.

It has now been over two months since the festival ended, and the "diary entires" that I thought I could write after each day's viewing turned into detailed reviews, each of which took me days or weeks to finish. (In fact, it's been so long since the festival ended that many of the films that were in the festival have now received national release--including, unfortunately, The Eye.) But I'm finally done! I hope you've enjoyed my diary of the festival. I enjoyed writing it, as I enjoyed the festival itself. It was a great time, and I look forward to another year, another festival, and another diary!

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Jim Genzano

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