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Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Jason Guerrasio
July 30, 2013 9:37 AM
264 Comments
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Can You Trust This Film Festival?

The Quad Cinema, one of the venues used by the Manhattan Film Festival.

There are thousands of film festivals in North America. Of those, a majority have significant track records -- that is, their films find distribution, the filmmakers raise their profiles, or, at a minimum, the festival has a solid reputation that enhances the filmmakers' stature by proxy. 

But a slim margin exist because most filmmakers don’t make the cut. Inexperienced with the festival circuit, they scramble to find somewhere, anywhere, to screen. The looser acceptance protocols can give filmmakers a false sense of success that allows them to display multiple laurels on their websites and posters -- which are largely meaningless to anyone but the filmmakers. 

Still -- a screen is a screen, right? 


IT'S A GOOD MOVIE, BUT CAN THEY PLAY IT?

"It was a fucking nightmare." That's how Mira Gibson described the premiere of her film "Warfield" at the Manhattan Film Festival last year. Certain it wouldn't be accepted at the New York Film Festival or Tribeca, the Brooklynite wanted to screen in the city and thought MFF would be a good fit. (Editor's note: Manhattan Film Festival should not be confused with the Manhattan Short Film Festival, a completely separate organization.) 

She submitted her film and entry fee through online service Withoutabox; when the film was accepted, Gibson hustled to put the final touches in post. About 10 weeks before the 2012 MFF, she sent "Warfield" in the form of a thumb drive, along with specs.

When her big night arrived, Gibson was anxious—and not because she was about to unveil a film that she'd been hyping for months to her agent, manager, family, friends, cast and crew. The venue wasn't readymade for a movie premiere: That year, the festival was screening films at The Producer's Club, a Times Square space more suited for theater work.

It proved to be an omen of things to come.

As the lights went down and the picture came up, Gibson was horrified. "It's the wrong one!" she yelled out. Her first audience was watching the version she’d submitted for acceptance—a work-in-progress with no color or audio correction, no credits or the score.

After her pleas with the projectionist failed to stop the film, Gibson learned only then that her thumb drive version, which represented thousands of dollars in final edits, was unplayable by MFF: The thumb drive was Mac-formatted and their equipment was Windows. Gibson was speechless.

While her experience would be a nightmare for any filmmaker, not every accusation of a festival’s illegitimacy is cut and dry. The Manhattan Film Festival, which wrapped its 7th edition in June, is such a case. 

READ MORE: Indiewire Investigation: The Dark Underbelly of the Film Festival Circuit, Part 1

Filmmakers Philip J. Nelson and Jose Ruiz founded the event in 2006 after struggling to find an audience for their film, “Promise of a New Day.” MovieMaker magazine selected MFF in 2012 as one of the "25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee," largely due to its revenue sharing agreement: The festival and filmmakers split ticket sales 50/50, with the site Screen Booker taking 99-cent service fee on every ticket sold. (Filmmakers interviewed for this story say they received amounts ranging from $300-$400.)

On the surface, the festival sounds like a hidden gem among the thousands. However, after seven years, its profile remains very low (although for its first four years, its name was Independent Features Film Festival). And all the filmmakers interviewed for this story -- whether they enjoyed the festival or not—commented on its rampant disorganization, lack of communication and screening ineptitude.


CONFIRM THE LOCATION

L.A.-based filmmaker Timothy L. Anderson screened his debut feature, the Coolio-starring dark comedy "Two Hundred Thousand Dirty," at the 2013 MFF. Only available to fly to town on the day of his screening, Anderson was having lunch with a friend in midtown and prepared to do a final social media blast about the premiere when he got a call from his AD that the location on their Screen Booker page suddenly changed from the East Village’s Quad Cinema to Hunter College on the Upper East Side."I was never emailed or called at all," said Anderson about the change. 

Panic ensued: Unable to get in touch with his festival contact over the phone, Anderson rushed to the Quad for answers and found only volunteers and staff who had none. Anderson then spent two hours waiting in the lobby until Nelson showed up, who only explained that there were booking problems.

"We did postcards saying it was at the Quad and they were right next to him as we were talking,” said Anderson. “So no one at the festival saw these and saw they were wrong? My lead actor was at the opening night party, no one said anything to him about it. I told [Nelson], ‘If you walk to the Quad and find out the film is now uptown, you’re just going to go to a bar.’” With only three hours before his screening, Anderson suggested a shuttle service.

"There were such repeated instances of clusterfuck."

In a panic, Nelson found a limo company to take the people who showed up at the Quad over to Hunter College, where things weren’t much better: the film began only after the projectionist scrambled to find a working Blu-ray player. There was no festival representative there to introduce the film or moderate a Q&A afterwards.

Jon Lindstrom, also L.A.-based (you may remember him as Dr. Kevin Collins on "General Hospital"), had a similar experience when screening his debut feature, summer-getaway-gone-wrong thriller "How We Got Away With It." However, he only learned about his location change when he ran into Nelson at the Quad, where he was told his film would now play at Hunter.

"I was checking my Screen Booker page every day," said Lindstrom. "They must have changed it that day." Like Anderson, the festival shuttled audience members up to Hunter. Lindstrom’s film also started late and had technical issues.

"There were such repeated instances of clusterfuck," Lindstrom said. "There should have been backup plans, contingencies. They should have learned over so many years. I'm still rather stunned."

Location changes for screenings are a frequent occurrence at festivals (though usually filmmakers are notified directly before it has happened). Most filmmakers that Indiewire interviewed who attended MFF either last year or this year just made the most out of a lousy situation.

Solvan Naim took a slightly different tack: After spending an estimated $3,500 on promotions for the MFF screening of his debut darmedy/hip-hop musical, “Full Circle,” at the Quad, the Brooklyn native learned from ticket buyers that the location was now Hunter College. Naim wasn't satisfied with Nelson's shuttle suggestion; when conversations stalled with Nelson and unable to get assistance from Quad owner Elliott Kanbar, Naim contacted his lawyer, Habib Bentaleb. According to Bentaleb, the festival refused to reply to his numerous emails. And then Naim received an email from Nelson stating that they were pulling his film -- a move that may violate Withoutabox’s Festival Participation Agreement. (Nelson said he was unaware of the clause. In a statement provided to Indiewire, Withoutabox said, "If we determine that a festival has violated our Terms of Service, we will take action, which may include terminating a festival's access to Withoutabox services." The company declined to comment specifically about MFF.)

Naim responded by gathering friends, actors and film crew to protest at the Quad. Naim met other filmmakers with similar MFF woes; the police even showed up and tried to get Naim and Nelson to reconcile.

Two days later, Naim rented a New York University theater and showed his film.

Next: The festival's founder responds.

264 Comments

  • Greg Ashmore | February 18, 2014 1:24 PMReply

    This smells a lot like Geoffrey Gilmore's work and tactics. He launched a similar campaign some years back when he was over at Sundance, against the founders of "Slamdance" (aka Sundance rejects). Now that he's at Tribeca, it's likely he's targeted potentially threatening festivals for obliteration. Not surprised. Several filmmakers who know him and his track record recognize these similarities.

  • Simon | January 30, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    Wow, Guerrasio is one overzealous and intransigent prosecutor. He must be Italian. :) Of course, with this comes a prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory. He should go to work for the Italian Justice System. What a joke you both are.

  • Simon | January 30, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    Wow, Guerrasio is one overzealous and intransigent prosecutor. He must be Italian. :) Of course, with this comes a prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory. He should go to work for the Italian Justice System. What a joke you both are.

  • Simon | January 30, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    Wow, Guerrasio is one overzealous and intransigent prosecutor. He must be Italian. :) Of course, with this comes a prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory. He should go to work for the Italian Justice System. What a joke you both are.

  • Lauren Smith | December 19, 2013 3:58 PMReply

    Since when does a festival or a filmmaker need the approval of the elite to succeed?

    "the festival has a solid reputation that enhances the filmmakers' stature by proxy" barf. The author is clearly an enemy of indie film.

  • Gergi Domingo | December 12, 2013 1:02 PMReply

    Somebody should report them to the FBI. It's wrong to do what they be doing.

  • Rhyme God | December 13, 2013 12:42 PM

    True dat. They bout as useless as all the crap movies they be showin aint no one want that artsy fartsy junk.

  • Gergi Domingo | December 12, 2013 1:02 PMReply

    Somebody should report them to the FBI. It's wrong to do what they be doing.

  • Clayton S. | November 22, 2013 12:14 PMReply

    No surprise here. When my producer went to meet with the festival director at the offices last spring, it was at the empire state building but it wasn't their offices. It was one of those companies people pay so they have an office for a day or when they need it, but not all the time. I think they also get their mail through that same company. If MFF has any real offices, it's likely the same guy's apartment.

  • Justin MacVane | October 30, 2013 11:17 AMReply

    "There are thousands of film festivals in North America. Of those, a majority have significant track records -- that is, their films find distribution, the filmmakers raise their profiles, or, at a minimum, the festival has a solid reputation that enhances the filmmakers' stature by proxy.

    But a slim margin exist because most filmmakers don’t make the cut. Inexperienced with the festival circuit, they scramble to find somewhere, anywhere, to screen. The looser acceptance protocols can give filmmakers a false sense of success that allows them to display multiple laurels on their websites and posters -- which are largely meaningless to anyone but the filmmakers. "

    What kind of opening jerk statement is that?

  • SLAY YOU | October 31, 2013 12:25 PM

    Speaks the truth, don't like git outta here we takin over.`

  • Filmmaker | October 30, 2013 3:06 PM

    That my friend would be the opening jerk statement of a writer with an agenda. Nothing more.

  • Carl | October 22, 2013 1:19 PMReply

    Obviously the organizers are failures. Failed filmmakers, failed film festival coordinators. It has always baffled me that people think loving movies is enough to qualify for working in the film industry. At every level, you have to be TALENTED. Obviously the people behind MFF lack talent, the talent of filmmaking and the talent of programming and organizing film screenings. I have to wonder, what would it take to have them realize this and move on.

  • Clayton S | November 22, 2013 12:18 PM

    I'm not sure about some of your statement but I do think they don't have their priorities in order. It's a tiny festival without funding and it seems like he's trying to operate on a bigger scale without pursuing the resources to make it feasible. I also got the impression that he treats his festival like a for profit corporation and not the not for profit event that a film festival is supposed to be. When my producer met with him last spring he gloated about how his number of submissions were up, which would be fine if the festival had no submission fees. Imagine the money this guy must pocket.

  • Frightening | October 24, 2013 8:53 PM

    We superior they be faggots.

  • Ivan Jeminson | October 17, 2013 12:33 AMReply

    I know someone who had their movie at MFF this year and it seemed fine. Everyone was happy, not sure about the filmmakers in the article but I think their collective attitudes says more about them than the film festival. If I ever finish my movie I will send it to the festival as I suspect Tribeca isn't that into avant garde film. MFF, however, has clearly demonstrated an open mindedness in the way they program. Touche' to the festival director and his crew. Don't lose them and keep your head up. These naysayers won't last in the industry if their whining publicly about scheduling hiccups. :)

  • Dirk Johnson | October 9, 2013 3:51 PMReply

    If you think this is unusual when it comes to film festivals, you are sadly mistaken. Most film festivals exist primarily for the same reason vanity publishers exist: to get your money. The only difference is that vanity publishers will produce a more or less acceptable, reliable product; film festivals often can't find a working DVD player or any tech crew member who knows how to press a button.

  • Kevin | October 27, 2013 11:09 PM

    How do you figure? Almost all festivals, sands the major popular ones, almost always break even each year or take a financial hit that its directors have to make up for out of pocket. Obviously you've never worked in the festival circuit as a a festival coordinator or you wouldn't be so quick to accuse film festivals as being money making institutions - almost all of them make absolutely NO money. Additionally, the term "vanity publisher" was coined by the main stream publishing industry to deter people from publishing work themselves - I assume you believe it's okay to leave the decision of who gets a career as a filmmaker to the top ten festivals in the world? Are you really okay with those elitists making all the decisions concerning what's worthy entertainment and not?

  • Kevin | October 27, 2013 11:09 PM

    How do you figure? Almost all festivals, sands the major popular ones, almost always break even each year or take a financial hit that its directors have to make up for out of pocket. Obviously you've never worked in the festival circuit as a a festival coordinator or you wouldn't be so quick to accuse film festivals as being money making institutions - almost all of them make absolutely NO money. Additionally, the term "vanity publisher" was coined by the main stream publishing industry to deter people from publishing work themselves - I assume you believe it's okay to leave the decision of who gets a career as a filmmaker to the top ten festivals in the world? Are you really okay with those elitists making all the decisions concerning what's worthy entertainment and not? Honestly, your comment is just flat out stupid.

  • Kevin | October 27, 2013 11:09 PM

    How do you figure? Almost all festivals, sands the major popular ones, almost always break even each year or take a financial hit that its directors have to make up for out of pocket. Obviously you've never worked in the festival circuit as a a festival coordinator or you wouldn't be so quick to accuse film festivals as being money making institutions - almost all of them make absolutely NO money. Additionally, the term "vanity publisher" was coined by the main stream publishing industry to deter people from publishing work themselves - I assume you believe it's okay to leave the decision of who gets a career as a filmmaker to the top ten festivals in the world? Are you really okay with those elitists making all the decisions concerning what's worthy entertainment and not? Honestly, your comment is just flat out stupid.

  • Kevin | October 27, 2013 11:09 PM

    How do you figure? Almost all festivals, sands the major popular ones, almost always break even each year or take a financial hit that its directors have to make up for out of pocket. Obviously you've never worked in the festival circuit as a a festival coordinator or you wouldn't be so quick to accuse film festivals as being money making institutions - almost all of them make absolutely NO money. Additionally, the term "vanity publisher" was coined by the main stream publishing industry to deter people from publishing work themselves - I assume you believe it's okay to leave the decision of who gets a career as a filmmaker to the top ten festivals in the world? Are you really okay with those elitists making all the decisions concerning what's worthy entertainment and not? Honestly, your comment is just flat out stupid.

  • Kevin | October 27, 2013 11:09 PM

    How do you figure? Almost all festivals, sands the major popular ones, almost always break even each year or take a financial hit that its directors have to make up for out of pocket. Obviously you've never worked in the festival circuit as a a festival coordinator or you wouldn't be so quick to accuse film festivals as being money making institutions - almost all of them make absolutely NO money. Additionally, the term "vanity publisher" was coined by the main stream publishing industry to deter people from publishing work themselves - I assume you believe it's okay to leave the decision of who gets a career as a filmmaker to the top ten festivals in the world? Are you really okay with those elitists making all the decisions concerning what's worthy entertainment and not? Honestly, your comment is just flat out stupid.

  • Carla | October 2, 2013 2:31 AMReply

    It would seem that this article's comments section is a sounding board for the angry filmmakers whom the festival couldn't please. Unfortunate since a reasonable discussion on the overhaul of the entire festival system needs to be had. Clearly it will not happen here.

  • MFF Sucks! | September 23, 2013 3:22 PMReply

    How fitting is it that their call for entries are open but not on Withoutabox? Looks like Philip's only way of hooking filmmakers has kicked them out the way they kicked out Full Circle. Also, FC just screened at the AMC theaters and one a trophy best audience. Got that Philip?

  • Louis B. Mayer | September 25, 2013 6:05 PM

    Dont be hatin Philly ma Nilly may be no star but ignince iz blizzard candy shake. I'm f-u-c-k a mamma and maybe a pappa cause bi iz hotz.

  • WOW | September 16, 2013 8:57 AMReply

    I STUNNED that these incompetent people made it to seven years or perhaps they didn't. It says they changed their name and I'm thinking that their inability to do it right is probably why.

  • The Kiddo Ma Diddo | September 17, 2013 10:00 AM

    They fu-c-kin losers all of 'em. Philip esp. Fancies himself a business man but he nuthin.

  • SMALL SERVICES | September 9, 2013 4:08 AMReply

    PROTEIN DATA BAR DEALS, click here go here! Limited offer!

  • Sam Snowe | September 5, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    I was outraged while reading this article, until I googled "mff scam" to find out more and nothing came up to solidify these complaints (except for Full Circle's ripoff report). I did, however, come across a couple of blogs from supporters of the festival, which were much better written and included references and one included screen shots as a form of proof, which this article lacks. It would seem Mira Gibson's participation in this article is simply for the free press, especially since she is documented as having tweeted "second screening at the Manhattan Film Festival was a huge success and a total dream come true". Um... okay, so why is she complaining here? Tim Anderson has publicly admitted that many of the positive things he had to say were omitted from this article. It would seem the only two filmmakers that refuse to say anything good about the festival have responded so spitefully that you absolutely HAVE to take what they say with a grain of salt.

    It's clear they are disorganized, but it is also clear that they mean well and have helped out a lot of filmmakers. They do not deserve this mistreatment. If indiewire editors have any conscience they'll remove this trash.

  • Phuck Sam Snowe | September 6, 2013 5:14 PM

    Fuck you faggot.

  • Phuck Phil Nelson | September 3, 2013 7:54 AMReply

    Ain't no mutha fuckin' body love you yo... you stoopid.

  • Phil Nelson | September 3, 2013 6:03 PM

    Phuck You! ImaStickMyDickInYourMouthYo!!!!! Bust that nutta to the back of yo throat and watch u choke.

  • AIN'T CLOCKIN' | August 31, 2013 6:42 PMReply

    Freedown alldeaftones anda theycome yellcold atmospheresphere isthe mostfor anyonefounders ofthan thanof riledginger?

  • Greg | August 30, 2013 7:19 AMReply

    I would have kicked them out too. Full Circle is one of the single worst movies in the long sad history of single worst movies and Solvan Naim is an arrogant prick engaging in serious jackassery. You know the deal - forget these foolish filmmakers and move on. Can't listen to someone willing to throw a fest under the tires for some bullshit press written by one cock suckin' fuck like this.

  • Lance | August 29, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    It's clear that this article is of design and malicious intent. The author should think again if he considers himself a journalist. Where is the other side? Can you provide the interview tapes, uncut and in full? Are you professional enough to even record your interviews?

  • Tyrone D Murphy | August 27, 2013 8:05 AMReply

    Interesting article, also very interesting comments, so many with so much to say.

    We have been covering Scam and dubious film festivals and have been naming names in our free magazine Universal Film Magazine, what we find appalling is that there are still many scam festivals out there ripping off the nicer side of society, young impressionable filmmakers. We have covered many different types of film festivals the world over, from festivals blacklisting filmmakers, festival organizers giving all the awards to themselves despite filmmakers paying a submission fee and even festivals that just take the money and run. We have tried very hard to create some sort of voluntary organization that will stamp out this activity. we called it UFFO, the Universal Film and Festival Organization, a non-for-profit with over 200 film festivals, its simply a start. A way forward for festival organizers and filmmakers that could well be a solution to a question that been asked for many years. How can we stop corruption with some film festivals that give the rest a bad name?

    Tyrone D Murphy
    Founder of UFFO

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:18 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:18 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:17 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:17 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:17 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:17 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Tyrone D Murphy | November 2, 2013 12:17 PM

    Hi Lance, you are completely wrong here when you said, "The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded" Well firstly, the UFFO code of practice is voluntary, secondly, we don't charge, anything to anyone, ever.
    Any festival that becomes a member of UFFO has no clout at all; they adopt a code of practice to demonstrate transparency. To do the right thing, and If they do not , they are out.
    Despite your hunches and guesswork, you are very wrong, we would not go for it, compromise the integrityof UFFO for some rich festival and change the rules to suite them, no way!. Why not have a look at the exposes in every issue of Universal Film Magazine and you will see, we play hard ball and we name names, then ask the same question. Some indie fests are great, other are simply outright scammers and some are just doing it to give themselves all the awards.
    So the only answer is insofar as we are concerned is to ask festival to adopt a voluntary Film Festival code of practice (FESTCOP) - free and voluntary, no money at all, not a dime. Now we have 2012 film festival members and the UFFO magazine Universal Film Magazine is going out free in over 100 countries. (legal agreements to back these figures up)and exposing festivals and naming names in all issues.
    Glad to be able to clear that up.
    Tyrone

  • Lance | August 29, 2013 12:25 PM

    The problem with an organization like yours is that it starts to put pressure on how festivals operate and unless a festival can afford entry into your organization, it's obviously excluded. What happens if a major festival like Tribeca insists that, in exchange for them becoming a member, members have to pay an enormous annual fee in an effort to weed out the smaller indie fests like MFF. I wouldn't put it past the fuckers. My hunch is that you'd do it, wouldn't you? Having Tribeca vouch for your organizations would be an incredible business move - I know I'd do it. Here's the problem though, the indie fests are the ones that truly make a difference in giving a filmmaker the ability to screen, especially in New York.

  • Mike | August 23, 2013 8:40 AMReply

    Independent films suck and independent film directors are stupid thats why I only watch movies in theaters and on tv because theyr the only good movies.

  • WTF | August 23, 2013 5:03 PM

    You're an idiot.

  • Sam I Am | August 22, 2013 3:48 PMReply

    Green eggs and mother fucking ham baby.

  • MEDIA man | August 22, 2013 5:34 AMReply

    whack out man out media out ran out here! Time zones are global around and key, abound mostly.

  • Sam I Am | August 22, 2013 3:49 PM

    Media Man Retard that fire in the balls the shaft is bigger than the pole up in the huggy woh uggy buggy

  • Jeremy El | August 21, 2013 11:00 AMReply

    I have always taken articles like this with a grain of salt, regardless of the author or publication. Accusations against film festivals have been on-going for years, even against institutions like Sundance. I see it this way: if these complaints warrant my (or anyone else's attention, then they would at the very least, warrant a case in small claims court. Since there is no mention of these filmmakers taking the festival to court, I see it as a non-issue. If that kid really did put down 3 large in expenses to promote his screening (and I really hope he didn't) then I would think he'd have sense enough to take the festival to court to dispute it or at least get a written contract with the festival to confirm the locations and date, with promises that all expenses will be reimbursed should a change occur. Did any of this happen?

    I also don't think the publisher really thought through just how damaging this article actually is, not just to the festival but also to the filmmakers they've profiled. The filmmakers will not be trusted again and any festival that has the brains enough to research their selected filmmakers before officially accepting them, is going to find this and reconsider the selection, just based on the fact that they cooperated with the author and was more than willing to talk trash about the event and its coordinators.

    The other problem is all of the interns that volunteered with this festival did it for no reason. Because of this, they can no longer feature it on their resume of work 'nor utilize the festival for any necessary future recommendations, at least, if they plan on working in the New York Film Industry. It was all for nothing. I would think the publisher would have at least have thought this part through before making these complaints available for the entire world to see.

    I am a festival coordinator in Boston, have been doing it for fifteen years now. At my event, we make all of our selected filmmakers sign an agreement before being accepted, essentially restricting them from participating in articles like this and talking bad about their experiences, should they have any. This is mainly due to one constant misconception: young filmmakers have the wrong idea about what to expect at a film festival and a very wrong idea on how important they are to the film industry as a whole. These misconceptions, more often than not, breed disappointment after disappointment. Independent film festivals are here to help, but you have to know how to use them and what to expect.

    My heart goes out to Mr. Nelson and his entire crew. Mr. Nelson, it's clear you are surrounded by good, caring people and many of the filmmakers who have come to stand up for your festival obviously care deeply that they're putting their names on an article of this nature. That says more about your character than the actual article does. I do hope you bounce back from this and that the other members of the film community see past such hyperbole. In the meantime, ignore the noise. These people aren't worth your time. The fact that you've made it through seven years says a lot about your dedication and devotion to the indie film community.

  • Dirk Johnson | October 9, 2013 3:56 PM

    Wouldn't it be nice to find a film festival that guarantees working equipment and at least one tech crew member who knows how to press a button? Most film festivals in my experience put much more effort into presenting themselves than they do into presenting the films.

  • Eric | August 21, 2013 3:43 PM

    Thanks Jeremy!

  • Irene | August 20, 2013 1:27 AMReply

    The dedication and passion of the filmmakers involved here is inspiring, if not incredibly disconcerting. It's clear there are, I will guess, three or four of the same people posting over and over again. I assume one filmmaker who hates the festival, one filmmaker who loves the festival and the festival itself, all posting under false identities to get the same arguments across over and over again, mainly in an effort to give the illusion that there are lots of people who actually give a fuck. The challenge of course is to see whoever holds out the longest, the winner gets their opinions at the top of the page indefinitely. Regardless of who wins this pissing contest, it's not going to change what happened at the festival this year and the festival isn't going to apologize or take responsibility and I don't believe they should have to. Especially not with the kinds of personalities who have been posting here. I think it's time both parties moved on and walked away from this mess. You're just giving the publisher what they want and neither of you will benefit from it. To the filmmakers: in case you haven't noticed, a lot of people are laughing at you. To the festival: some people seems to think you've been silent about this but its clear that some of these posts seems to either come from you or come from people who are posting on your behalf. It's time all of you stop. No one actually cares. It's not a story, it's not a problem. It's stupid.

  • @Maniac | August 21, 2013 9:34 AM

    lol @Maniac MS-13. That's funny shit!

  • Maniac | August 20, 2013 6:08 PM

    I suspect the filmmaker is associated with MS-13 - probably the Bushwick arm of the deadly El Salvadoran gang. That would explain why he's such a prick.

  • Carlos | August 19, 2013 2:33 AMReply

    I have a story for you all. I was at a film festival in Los Angeles where I met one of the volunteers, cute college girl who wanted to be in film. To make a long story short, we hooked up the night before the awards and had a great time in my hotel room. The first time and then a few hours later started on a second time. She was prepping me orally when all of a sudden she stopped and threw up all over my junk. I'm like "what the fuck!" It turns out I had shit all over the place while she was blowing me. The food and coffee the film festival had provided had given me diarrhea. Funny shit. The fucked up part was that there appeared to be whole crab legs in her puke.

    I will def go back to that film festival. Fucking love LA man.

  • Sans Trouble | August 19, 2013 3:24 PM

    Which festival? They sound unprofessional for allowing their volunteers to engage in acts like that. Jesus will not save you. I recommend visiting a priest and repent.

  • Jake | August 19, 2013 12:48 PM

    lol I'm rolling man. This is funny as hell.

  • Cindy Lauper | August 18, 2013 6:23 PMReply

    http://filmfestivalsecrets.com/ffs/2013/8/much-ado-about-a-bad-screening-indiewires-manhattan-ff-article I'm assuming that was the crazy filmmaker posing as the editor of IW... If not, pretty unprofessional.

  • Are Goonies Good Enough? | August 19, 2013 12:47 PM

    Oh Cindy Lauper! Only a jackass would post a s a celebrity. Use your real name or at the very least, a generic name. No celebrity would get mixed up with these jackasses.

  • IW Flava Flave | August 19, 2013 12:50 AM

    Snoochie Boochies naga noochies!

  • CONCERNED | August 16, 2013 7:51 PMReply

    I am not associated with anybody here. So I must admit, at first I found this thread to be mildly amusing and I've been occasionally checking back to read the mess. But as it continues to escalate, I am truly becoming concerned about the mental/emotional stability of this “filmmaker”.

    So there was a scheduling issue with your little movie at a little festival? When I read that you threw a tantrum at the theater, I just thought you were probably a little immature, naive, and obnoxious (yeah, nice Instagram photo on June 26 of you and your gang proudly disrupting other filmmakers’ screenings; nice job). But then you spend the next two months on a personal crusade to insult the festival, the festival staff, every filmmaker that has ever screened at the festival, and anybody who comments in support of the festival?

    To the "Full Circle" group, I hope you realize that this conduct is seriously hurting ALL of your futures working in film. A lot of us are not going to want to work with anybody associated with this film because of the immaturity and hostility displayed.

    And to Solvan... seriously kid. Grow up, get some therapy, and enjoy your future as a P.A.

  • The Kiddo Ma Diddo | August 16, 2013 11:30 PM

    No one's reputation is hurt but your own. You speak in bullshit and when I read it allowed it tastes terrible on my tongue, I spit it out like the venom of a rattlesnake.

  • Phew! 200! | August 16, 2013 4:49 PMReply

    Finally got to 200 comments. Phew!

  • Middle Finger Judger | August 16, 2013 4:49 PMReply

    Yeah that's the way I like it.

  • Crying Baby Judger | August 16, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    Wai wai wait... STOP that baby from cryin in the rain. Shit Axel Rose ain't got nuthin on you wrap sta's!

  • Sucky Website Judger | August 16, 2013 4:47 PMReply

    This website sucks, I hereby do declare!

  • Sucky Author Judger | August 16, 2013 4:47 PMReply

    The author of this article sucks, I hereby do declare!

  • Sucky Article Judger | August 16, 2013 4:46 PMReply

    This article sucks, I hereby do declare!

  • Dana Harris | August 16, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    It has come to our attention that some readers want to know and understand the purpose of this article written by Jason Guerrasio. As Editor in Chief of Indiewire, I have been tasked with this explanation. Our mission, for the record, is to destroy the Manhattan Film Festival and its founder Philip Nelson, at the request of our friends at the Tribeca Film Institute. None of us actually like MFF and Nelson 'nor the artsy fartsy films he programs.

    Thanks and let's all hope for the worst when it comes to MFF.

    Your friend, Dana.

  • erin | August 18, 2013 6:31 PM

    I'm assuming that's not really her. I would hope not at least.

  • Mara & Solvan (we're married) | August 16, 2013 4:45 PM

    Oh, we're just oh so sorry for being such naughty taughty tantrum pulling pookie wookies. let's go on our honeymoon Solvan

    Okay baby, we go back to da rico... show you how iz dun.

  • President George W. Washintun | August 16, 2013 4:43 PM

    I second that colleague Obama. You da man, love ya dog. Mmm dogs yum.

  • President Obama | August 16, 2013 4:42 PM

    Ladies and Gents - this is President Barrack Hussein Obama. I hereby declare this article a war zone and must ask all of you to refrain from reading... immediately. I hereby declare, in the name of our founding fathers, that all filmmakers are petty jerks and all film festivals are useless to American culture and therefore you are all stupid and pointless.

  • Jason Guerrasio | August 16, 2013 4:30 PM

    Dana, I support the publication of this article I wrote about MFF. Fuck you Philip!

  • Philip Nelson | August 16, 2013 3:41 PM

    Dana, my name is Phil and I'm so offended by your article and it makes me so so darned mad!!!! So mad!!!!

  • IndieFilmmaker | August 15, 2013 10:10 PMReply

    The people on this board are vicious to say the least - to say more would give you pricks the satisfaction. Indiewire are fools and so are the filmmakers who follow them.

  • Nelson | August 16, 2013 3:42 PM

    Potkettle we know your Solvan Naim.

  • Potkettle | August 16, 2013 12:39 PM

    This dude is funny. Calling out others for being "vindictive assholes" and he cold calls out some guy - Naim and using colorful language. He must of bust a nut at your girl's face or something. Oh wait, probably you don't got a girl, you nerd. ha..ha...

  • Why MFF & Philip J. Nelson Are Done | August 15, 2013 2:30 PMReply

    Philip Nelson has taken fees for filmmakers to submit. Yes, this pay to view and consider film festival system doesn't guarantees acceptance, HOWEVER, when a film is accepted it is assumed, by the filmmaker, that it would be treated respectfully and with the greatest care as a museum would treat a priceless work of art. The valiant staff at indiwire.com has exposed that this is not the case and that, in fact, Nelson and his team of gangsters at the festival, treat the movies they accept like shit. Dirt in the grinder. Your actions speak louder than your words - it is so loud that its deafening! As old time projectionists would say: "you got light, you got sound, what the fuck do I care?" Hopefully now you know, Mr. Nelson, why it's important to care about the exhibition of every single title you choose to screen. You might have light and sound, but that doesn't make the screening a legit festival exhibition. Expectations from filmmakers are high, especially with a name like the Manhattan Film Festival. It is not YOUR name, it is the city's name. It belongs to the city's film community and you only acquired recently, likely out of circumstance. But it is not YOUR name.

    To the filmmakers who Nelson copped out on as far as sending their films to venues like The Producer's Club and some lame Hunter College classroom: you're not alone. Don't allow festivals to treat your work this way. Do not send Manhattan Film Festival your work and do not do business with Philip Nelson. He can come up with all the excuses in the world, but forgiveness should not be within sight, not for him.

  • Film Fest Guy! | August 16, 2013 7:55 AM

    It's clear that some of you people are writing this stuff out of hate and not actually presenting any kind of real argument. Seems to go along with the true nature of the article. ... "forgiveness should not be within sight" is just about the meanest thing you could say about a person - especially with something as trivial as not giving a filmmaker the perfect screening. You're basically treating Philip Nelson like he just raped and tortured a little girl - it's a damned film festival. Filmmakers, you need to get over this high horse you've put yourselves on. You come off like selfish fools.

  • Amy | August 15, 2013 11:35 PM

    Indie Filmmaker, just let it go. They're trying to work the festival supporters up. And yes, they will pay for it. In the long run, no festival is going to program filmmakers like this, regardless of how good their work is. They're just all around bad people. It's likely that most of the people here probably represent the filmmakers that were featured, sent to back them up on some level. Just walk away Indie Filmmaker. There is no sense in losing your shit on the internet.

  • Indie Filmmaker | August 15, 2013 9:51 PM

    Priceless work of art? Are you kidding? Get over yourselves! I hope one day you realize you're doing the festival a favor. No one wants to show films from people like you. The group of haters on this message board are among the worst, spiteful and vindictive assholes on the internet - and that says a lot.

    SOLVAN NAIM - I know this is you or at least, one of these idiot personalities is you. You've been spreading this shit article like some asshole dumping gasoline into a wildfire. You can't let your anger subside can you? YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS.

  • Fuck Philip! | August 15, 2013 8:59 PM

    Ma niggaz, keep this article alive and popular. Send to your friends and keep the comments coming!

  • Spike | August 15, 2013 4:34 PM

    Well put. Agreed! Thank you Indiewire!!

  • Jason Guerrasio is an Idiot | August 14, 2013 3:27 PMReply

    Anyone who was dumb enough to read past this opening paragraph deserves to be scammed:

    "There are thousands of film festivals in North America. Of those, a majority have significant track records -- that is, their films find distribution, the filmmakers raise their profiles, or, at a minimum, the festival has a solid reputation that enhances the filmmakers' stature by proxy. "

    Really? Where'd you pull those numbers from? You shit stained asshole?

  • Sans Troubles | August 14, 2013 5:09 PM

    I ain't ridiculous homes, I'm fuckin' real. I get mine! I get mine!

  • Amy Field | August 13, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    A message for Mr. Jason Guerrasio: at the very least disclose your true intentions for writing this absurd article. What was the catalyst that prompted you to find these particular filmmakers? How did you find out about the Manhattan Film Festival? Why choose to brand them as not being trustworthy rather than send them ideas on how to improve? Why the blatant vicious attack? Surely there are plenty of happy filmmakers as some of the comments have suggested, why not talk to them? Why risk your journalistic integrity for this nonsense?

  • Jason Guerrasio Is An Idiot | August 14, 2013 3:29 PM

    Sans Trouble - you sound ridiculous, on top, how can you not know what Darwimism is?

  • Sans Trouble | August 13, 2013 4:42 PM

    Jason Guerrasio owes you nothing Amy Field. He's a HERO and and amazing person for putting this article together. This is called real JOURNALISM which you would know nothing about. He should be awarded a medal for exposing this horrible festival and scam artist Philip Nelson. We gots your back Jay!

  • Lenny | August 12, 2013 4:49 PMReply

    Unbelievable and nasty on part of the festival organizers to put any filmmaker through such hell. I do hope they get what's coming to them. Good work indiewire. There is no excuse for failure. As for the comments and arguments; it doesn't matter how nice a person is or how good his intentions are, if you're this bad at what you do, then you shouldn't do it. Plain and simple. The last thing a saturated market needs is a festering turd of a festival like this.

  • Sans Trouble | August 13, 2013 4:43 PM

    Fuck is Darwinism Amy Field? Use English. Lenny, you da man!

  • Amy | August 13, 2013 2:08 PM

    Ah yes, Darwinism plaques the film industry too. With an attitude like that, good luck with your future film endeavors. No festival would touch a person with such views.

  • Erin Brockovich | August 13, 2013 2:22 AM

    http://filmfestivalsecrets.com/ffs/2013/8/much-ado-about-a-bad-screening-indiewires-manhattan-ff-article

  • Jon | August 9, 2013 1:33 PMReply

    Since it has been established that the author of the article work for Tribeca, I have taken a moment to look into whether or not Nelson had a previous dispute with the organization. It turns out that he and Ruiz sued Tribeca over theft of their business model. Google search philip nelson manhattan film festival and look for an article form the Guardian. I cannot post the link here.

  • JASON GUERRASIO IS AN IDIOT | August 14, 2013 3:30 PM

    Well, that just hit it home. I don't need to read anymore. He works for Tribeca! Fabulous!

  • Eschew | August 11, 2013 4:45 PM

    History is irrelevant, as is this story. Sullivan is right by calling it hyperbole. Hyperbole article and comments!

  • Eliot | August 9, 2013 1:43 PM

    I see the guardian article I think you're talking about. I also found an article about the Tribeca Film Festival getting protested after it kicked a bunch of audience members out of a screening of a controversial documentary. The ticket holders had the police called on them. Sounds like Tribeca is calling MFF out on shenanigans when Tribeca engages in the same activities! GTFouttahere!