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Middle Coast Film Festival

The Delights of Chocolates

A short film that screened at the 2014 Middle Coast Film Festival is a quirky little comedy centered on the interactions – and jealous tensions – of two women who have been friends.  The film is titled Chocolates, which plays on both an element in the plot and its visual accompaniment as the women sit in a living room and talk.

A Debut Perspective

By Madelyn Ritrosky

A brand, spanking new film festival has hit the Midwest.  The Middle Coast Film Festival was named to play on and dethrone the East Coast—West Coast artistic and cultural dominance in the U.S. 
Middle Coast Film FestivalEver since—wait....  There has always been that bicoastal perspective that anyone who wants to do anything of cultural significance in art and entertainment has to go to either New York City or Los Angeles.  For those who don’t know much about the origins of our entertainment industries, let’s explore that more . . . .
There was the burgeoning magazine industry in New York in the early 20th century, with its development of writing, photographic techniques, and advertising art.  Tin Pan Alley held court there for early music recording.  New York was already the center of the fine art world for the U.S.
Then there was the birth of film as popular entertainment in this same time period, again situated primarily in New York.  During the 1910s, things shifted to the West Coast for the first time as the hugely influential Hollywood studio system emerged in full force during the ‘20s. 
During the Jazz Age, radio was becoming a force to be reckoned with in a number of cities across the county, including in the Midwest, specifically, in Chicago.  But by the late ‘20s, NBC and CBS had been established as national broadcasting entities based in—you guessed it—New York City. 
During the course of the 1930s and ‘40s, the radio networks, in conjunction with the Hollywood movie studios, made LA the home base for a growing number of shows.  New York nonetheless remained a hub of radio broadcasting. 
With the emergence of commercial network television after World War II, most of the early live TV shows were based in New York, sponsored by individual advertisers, and produced by advertising agencies. 
Some programming started coming out of Hollywood in the early ‘50s, perhaps most notably with I Love Lucy in 1951.  Throughout that decade, production remained split between “the Coasts” yet was increasingly based in Los Angeles as film studios became the primary program providers.  Today, most television and movie production remains on the West Coast, with a portion based on the East Coast. 
Middle Coast Film FestivalThat brings us back to today—and the new Middle Coast Film Festival, springing forth in that small-city, big-culture university town of Bloomington, Indiana. 
Founding director is Jessica Levandoski of Brave New Productions, with Chelsea Sanders of Blueline Media Production serving as Media Director.  Their mission is to make the Midwest an important hub that inserts a new dimension into the East Coast—West Coast dichotomy that has reigned for a century. 
With increasingly affordable and portable media technologies, like high-definition DSLR cameras and portable digital audio recorders, making movies with high production values no longer need be the province solely of LA and NYC.  And it’s certainly the case that you don’t need to reside on either of those coasts to have a fabulous, innovative story to tell and film to make. 
The organizers put it this way:  “Who says that premiere features and shorts have to gravitate to the coasts?  Middle Coast Film Festival believes that while water connects places, the opportunity of the Midwest connects people.  That connection is what drives the films we all know, love and appreciate . . . .  The Midwest is redefining what it means to be coastal . . . .”
The 2-day festival debuted in Bloomington, Indiana, this summer.  It showcased half a dozen feature films and a number of short films.  There was a Sunday brunch panel discussion and three mixers – opening, closing, and a midway/good-time-for-socializing Saturday night party.  Films were screened at the historic Buskirk-Chumley Theater and the much newer IU Cinema, with social events at Blueline Gallery, The Bishop, and The Back Door. 
More women are needed calling the shots for film festivals, just as more women are needed literally calling the shots for the films you see at those festivals and elsewhere.  You go, girls!

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