Worcester Telegram
March 6, 2002
By Craig S. Semon



FITCHBURG -- The three-day Free Film Festival Fitchburg, or F4, will have its inaugural kick-off tomorrow and run through late Saturday at various places on the Fitchburg State College campus.

This celebration of celluloid and the filmmaking process features screenings, panel discussions, technology demonstrations and film competition, in addition to plenty of opportunities to interact with filmmakers, film scholars, film lovers and industry professionals and, who knows, possibly some Hollywood insiders.

F4's organizer, J.C. Bouvier, said the festival will feature an estimated 34 independent and underground films that run the gamut from comedic short subjects to feature-length documentaries.

Mr. Bouvier graduated from Fitchburg State College's film program in 1998. He is a consultant at the Marlboro-based Media 100 software company and is managing director at the Fitchburg-based advertising firm Revolutionary Images. Both companies, along with Fitchburg State College, CinemaSpeak.Com and Focal Press, are sponsoring the film festival.

"F4 is geared to anyone who wants to take a look at films that they're not going to see every day," Mr. Bouvier said. "This is for people who are curious, whether it be short films or experimental films or documentary films, things you're not going to see at Loew's or Cinema World or cable."

The 90 films sent for consideration are from all over the country, plus Puerto Rico and Australia.

"We're doing the F4 because we wanted to give the working storyteller a chance to tell their tale. We wanted to give some tools back to them and we wanted to put Fitchburg, especially the communication program at Fitchburg State College, in the spotlight," Mr. Bouvier said. "There's a lot of people who graduated from that program who are doing really great things and work in the industry and have earned a lot of respect based on their work ethic."

For F4's premiere night of festivities, Hollywood director John Landis will introduce a screening of his 1986 film "Three Amigos!" He will partake in a question-and-answer session and will sign copies of "The Best Film Writing 2001," which he edited. Mr. Landis' directing credits include "Animal House," "The Blues Brothers," "An American Werewolf in London," "Into the Night," "Coming to America" and "Trading Places." The premiere event featuring Mr. Landis will be at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the McKay Campus School, 160 Pearl St. The cost is $5.

While at Fitchburg State, Mr. Bouvier completed an internship at the Sundance Film Festival. That is where he met Mr. Landis.

"I met John at Sundance and we hit it off," Mr. Bouvier said. "I picked him up at the airport while I was doing some other thing. We started chatting it up and always kept in contact."

With several different venues for screening, all within walking distance of one another, Mr. Bouvier said, Fitchburg is the ideal location for a film festival.

An avid film-lover for two-thirds of his life, Mr. Bouvier said he has been regularly quoting film dialogue and adopting it as part of his pop culture vernacular since he was 10.

"When you're a kid, you learn from experience, but also film has been sort of the great teacher," Mr. Bouvier said. "You watch it and you start to collect experiences from film. I'm one of those guys that, with the proper other guy in the room, knows the dialogues from all the different films. I can have a whole conversation with somebody without ever using any original dialogue."

The festival features a competition with awards -- dubbed the Fitchy awards -- in seven categories: short narrative, short documentary, short comedic, feature narrative, feature documentary, feature comedic and audience approval.

"There are film festivals nearby," Mr. Bouvier said. "But we have a large populace here that does enjoy films. We've got a communication program that is basically unheralded, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to do that."

Titles of films being screened include, "To Be John Woo," "Break Dance Vice Squad," "Funny, Not Funny," "Angst Soap," "Journey, Swiftly Passing," "Sexual Predator," "Plasticity," "George Biddle, CPA," "Jamaica 2000," "Dead in America," "Conscientious Objections," "Bored of the Rings," "Sept. 12," "Blood Orange," "Waffles!", "Sidewalk" and "We've Got Johnny."

The forums, Mr. Bouvier said, are to showcase different approaches to good "guerrilla film-making."

Forum topics include "Film As the Great Socializer (Where Is the Tribal Orator?)," "Film vs. Arcade," "Storytelling," "Distribution Methods," "Broadcast Design," "Shooting for Post-Production," "Using the Web to Get the Word Out," "Renting vs. Buying" and "Screen-writing."

Mr. Bouvier said none of the films being screened will be too difficult to figure out.

"Overall, we tried to show things that are pretty linear but definitely gives new perspectives of some old tales," he said. "Some of the films are very funny and there is some very twisted horror stuff too. We're not hiding a lot of messages here. It's not like you have to go have a cappuccino and a couple of cigars afterwards. There some stuff like that, but I think we've a more pretty straightforward message going on here."

Tickets for all screenings are available at Fitchburg State College's Weston box office. Hours are 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. through Friday. The phone number is (978) 665-3347. Tickets for each screening will be $5. All-event passes are $20. For a complete listing of F4 programs, visit www.f4festival.com on the Internet.


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