Making a film, like writing a book or any creative endeavor, feels like giving birth. One hopes that everyone else will love ‘one’s child’ and see the potential in it. As one filmmaker recently said to me, “We are all so in love with our subjects that we expect everyone else to be too.” Rejection (also known as ‘not being selected’) can feel highly personal. Yet in the very competitive environment of independent film today, it’s often a matter of just not enough spaces for all the stories that are out there.
December was a month where our first rejections came in, from places that receive so many entries that they are long shots. Sundance. Slamdance. Palm Springs. Big Sky. Sundance had over 9800 films submitted. Programmers must need therapy after such a daunting pile of films to sort through. With social issues from global warming to war to economic meltdowns to presidential campaigns, the competition isn’t just around the storytelling, but often the issues themselves. We are proud to have tried to break into the premiere festivals and we don’t feel rejected so much as… dwarfed!
The very same day we received the rejection from Sundance, the Cleveland International Film Festival programmers called to say they love the film and wanted it. What a huge thrill to receive this nod from Cleveland, which was in our top five list. We were ecstatic. On the heels of this were additional selection nods from Smogdance, Sedona, and Kent, as well as invitations from adoption organizations for screenings in Sacramento, Boston, and Rochester. Every invite, felt like Christmas, every enthusiastic embrace a validation of the importance of the stories “For the Life of Me” tells.
Dave Kiley, the star of the film, has never been able to attend a screening, but will be there in Cleveland for the feature premiere, and his attendance will enhance the experience for us all. It takes a lot of courage to be the subject of a documentary film, to put your life story ‘out there’ for all to see. Dave, and the other adoptees whose stories grace the film, are helping to illuminate the impact lifelong secrecy has had upon the lives of adopted citizens. It is their willingness to be in the spotlight which helps others to understand the need for reform…
To date, almost half the festivals that FTLOM has been submitted to have received sponsorship. We’ve thus far had a 55% acceptance rate, double what we’d hoped for. So to our very special festival sponsorship team, which has helped nurture our submission process, a hearty bravo: our first sponsors Nicole Burton and Pam Hasegawa, standout Elise Holden (my biggest fan I think!), her husband Holden, her parents and inlaws Sissy & John Bateman and Karen & Eliot Tokat, Denise Carroll & Nikki Tidwell, Peter Daulton & Catherine Craig, Anne Blair, Roberta MacDonald and all of NCCAR, Lawrence Newman, and of course Jon Strauss, you are all helping to make this happen with your support. Thank you!