Anthony Gittens: Filmfest DC Founder on Fostering Diversity in Cinema

Anthony Gittens: Filmfest DC Founder on Fostering Diversity in Cinema

In this episode of The Truth in This Art podcast, host Rob Lee talks with Tony Gittens, the founder of Filmfest DC. Gittens recounts his upbringing in Brooklyn, his move to Washington, D.C., and his early involvement in the civil rights movement. He shares his journey from managing a bookstore to founding the Black Film Institute and eventually establishing an international film festival. Gittens discusses the selection process for the festival, emphasizing the importance of quality and diversity in film programming. He also touches on the hard work behind organizing the festival, the trend toward local filmmaking, and his love for smart thrillers. The episode concludes with an invitation to the upcoming Filmfest DC and a reminder of the rich art and culture available locally. πŸŽ₯🎬

Episode Content:

  • Tony Gittins' early life and move to DC (00:01:39) Tony's background as a Caribbean American from Brooklyn and his decision to move to and embrace DC. πŸ™οΈ
  • Challenges and rewards of pursuing passion (00:11:42) Tony discusses the satisfaction and challenges of intersecting interests and making a meaningful impact. πŸ’ͺ
  • Origins of Filmfest DC (00:19:22) Exploring the transition from managing a bookstore to creating the Black Film Institute and eventually founding an international film festival. 🌍
  • Programming and film selection (00:24:27) Detailing the festival's commitment to quality, new voices, and solid infrastructure, as well as the process of selecting films for the festival. 🎞️
  • Planning for the 39th Filmfest DC (00:33:36) Tony shares the timeline and process for planning the 39th version of the festival. πŸ“…
  • Fundraising and preparations (00:35:33) Discussion about the ongoing process of writing applications for funding and logistical preparations for the festival. πŸ’Ό
  • Impact of streaming services on film festivals (00:42:36) Discusses the theory that streaming services are wearing people out with low-quality content, leading to increased attendance at film festivals. πŸ“Ί

Key takeaways:

1. The importance of diversity and quality in film programming can enhance cultural understanding and appreciation.
2. Founding an event like an international film festival requires a deep passion for the art form and a commitment to showcasing a wide range of perspectives.
3. Local filmmaking is a growing trend that supports community engagement and the development of regional art scenes.
4. Involvement in social movements can influence one's career path and inspire the creation of platforms that celebrate underrepresented voices.

Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: Tony Gittens

If you enjoyed this insightful conversation with Tony Gittens on The Truth in This Art podcast, don't miss out on the opportunity to dive deeper into his world. Visit Filmfest DC's website to explore the incredible selection of international films and support the festival's mission to celebrate quality and diversity in cinema. Plus, follow Tony and the festival's journey on social media to stay updated on all the latest happenings and behind-the-scenes action.

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Thank you for listening, and don't forget to support the arts in every way you can! πŸŽ¨πŸ‘

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

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Original music by Daniel Alexis Music with additional music from Chipzard.

Episode illustration by Alley Kid Art.

About "The Truth In This Art"

Hosted by Rob Lee, "The Truth In This Art" podcast dives into the heart of creativity and its influence on the community. This arts and culture podcast from Baltimore highlights artists discussing their ideas, sharing insights, and telling impactful stories. Through these artist interviews, listeners gain a deeper understanding of the creative economy and artistic life in Baltimore. 

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Creators and Guests

Rob Lee
Rob Lee
The Truth In This Art is an interview series featuring artists, entrepreneurs and tastemakers in & around Baltimore.
Anthony Gittens
Anthony Gittens
Cultural innovator and administrator. Washington, DC International Film Festival Union Institute & University Washington, District of Columbia, United States