Introducing the Alphabet City Dolly Film Festival

The first-ever Alphabet City Dolly Film Festival will run from this Thursday, August 11 through August 13, from noon to 9pm. Authorized Dealer Films offers up this alternative/indie/street/bar crawl/film festival, which will take place at a bunch of joints scattered between avenues A and D. I found myself at Royale Bar on Avenue C yesterday, sitting with the creators and founders of the festival, Geoffrey Jean-Baptiste, Kareem Rogers, and Jean-Pierre Adech.

Royale Bar is one of the venues the festival is using to showcase participant’s works. Other venues include Porch, Bar on A, and Diablo Royal Este. There will be over 30 films shown at a daily cost to patrons of less than 20 bucks a day, which includes all admissions and a complimentary cocktail. For 3 days you can bounce around from joint to joint and enjoy indie films in a cool social environment instead of a staid theatre. You even get to vote on what you like. Like all proper festivals there are awards and judges. Here are the bios of the festival’s founders and creators:

Geoffrey Jean-Baptise – Writer/Director: Geoffrey Jean-Baptiste (22), co-founder of ADF, began his career as a child actor, starring in commercials for Nickelodeon and ESPN and being featured in the VH1 special, Rock of Ages. After his tenure as the production assistant for the photographer/filmmaker Sam Basset, Geoffrey set out to pursue his own movie-making endeavors, employing his extensive and well rounded background of period, foreign, and modern works to create distinctive scripts and language on screen. Kareem Rogers – Director of Photography/Design: Kareem Rogers (32), co-founder of ADF, blends his technical skills with his personal vision to capture unique angles and perspectives in his work. He has over a decade of experience in production, working on notable features and television shows including Making the Band 4, Law & Order, Chicago Hope and The Negotiator.

Jean-Pierre Adéchi – Business Operations: Jean-Pierre Adéchi (24), CEO of the luxury catering company Touche de Finesse decided to expand his business ventures after Rogers, who he knew from his school days at the Lycée Français de NY, asked his crew to assist on an ADF project. He now runs his successful catering business and is also the CFO at ADF, mixing his structural and organizational skills with his partners’ creative vision. After a lot of small talk, some big talk and a glass of beer, I asked them about their wonderful adventure and venture.

I read that you’re “bringing cinema to the streets.” What does that mean? Do bands, performing artists, painters, designers, sculptors all have outlets to show their work to audiences? Kareem Rogers: For any up-and-coming independent filmmaker, promoting one’s work can be a struggle. The way the industry is set up, most artists have to devote just as much time to marketing as to creating! At ADF, we share the belief that the only way to reduce the amount of self-promotion filmmakers have to do is by making everybody work together. We don’t do charity—we do sharing. We know that bringing together various artistic communities into one network can exponentially increase exposure for everyone involved. In essence we are all about making people work towards one common goal, but also for each other. To us, the term “starving artist”’ is not a euphemism, but instead a harsh reality. The film industry, for actors, directors and production companies alike is difficult. If you’re not a member of SAG you can’t work, and you can’t be a member of SAG unless you have worked. We want people to be able to make innovative, fresh works—a new wave of film that audiences will have access too.

We talked before about the Chelsea Hotel’s demise as a creative force and then about the rise of Williamsburg. Why choose Alphabet City? What role will the neighborhood play? Is this actually a film fest or pop-up club event? Jean-Pierre Adéchi: The neighborhood is a microcosm of what we love about New York City: its history, illustrated by Tompkins Square Park, the Nuyorican Poets Café, the melting pot of Hispanic and Eastern European immigrants; and its modernity, represented by the influx of upscale nightlife spots and new businesses. Despite the dreaded curse of gentrification, Alphabet City somehow retains its bohemian lifestyle. The dispersal of venues creates both a fun and unique structure that coincides with the artistic freedom associated with Alphabet City. This is the same neighborhood that Jimmy Hendrix would just walk into a bar and plug in his guitar to rock out for local patrons. Where else could be a better canvas for emerging creativity?

Are you trying to become the next Tribeca Film Festival? Will there be celebrities or industry names? What is the crowd/audience you’re targeting? Geoffrey Jean-Baptiste: This festival is different because it’s ambitious in its scope, happening over a large area, over 27 hours. Unlike Sundance or Tribeca, we’re not looking to screen films in theaters, but rather to scatter them across venues in local business that need support and also give it a personal feel, more than just sitting in a theater. You get to experience Alphabet City, one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the county, which is a character in its own right. The neighborhood itself is going to play a huge role as will the people. Is this some sort of rebellion against Hollywood and the big business film industry? Kareem Rogers: There’s a time and place for following rules, all other times are subject to a free-for-all mentality. We’re not anarchists—but we want a revolution. A peaceful, entertaining one that benefits not only individuals in film, but also local business that may be struggling because of the current economy, and of course audiences who are craving something that is worth seeing while not having to fork out a fortune. In today’s economy, two people go to the movies, have popcorn and soda or something and they can drop over fifty dollars. Is it worth it? We hope to offer an option.

I hear that you have a few tag lines. What are they? Geoffrey: “Do you know your ABCs? “Three Days In August,” “For independents, by independents,” “Bringing cinema to the street,” “Be original…stand out,” “Where theater crawl meets bar crawl,” “Pop-up, pub-crawl, movie-marathon.”

Who are the judges? Steven Sebring, who directed the primetime Emmy-nominated film Patty Smith: Dream of Life. His ability for visually piquing interest brought him a Webby Award. He has lived in New York since 1992, where he first gained recognition for his fashion, celebrity, and rock-n-roll photography.

Spiro Carras, the special effects editor for Pixar’s Academy Award-winning film Ratatouille has been working in the industry for decades, directing, producing, editing, and most recently, in special effects.

Jonas Elrod, who received a Gold Effie for his “Domaination” spot for Converse in 2009, has been producing and directing for the last 10 years. His recent documentary Wake Up received overwhelming response from festivals and critics.

And finally, Roman Barnett, who is a veteran production assistant for both film and television projects, including the popular show Project Runway and the series The Shop.

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