Interview: Jonathan Lipp (Founder ‘Big Apple Film Festival’)

Jonathan Lipp is the founder of the “BIG APPLE FILM FESTIVAL” & “THE BIG APPLE FILM SOCIETY“, which opened at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City in December of 2004.   This years edition of the festival will be held from November 14-18 at New York Cities Tribeca Cinemas.

The Big Apple Film Society was established as a means of supporting and promoting independent films and filmmakers from the New York City metropolitan area.  Our primary mission is to connect cinematic audiences with influential, educational and entertaining films that have been developed and produced outside of the mainstream studio system and reflect the ideals of individuals living and/or working within the New York area. Our key philosophy is that as the visual age continues to progress, media will continue to play a major role in the shaping of our society and therefore it is imperative that a multitude of voices are heard and experienced through the visual medium. As New York City is synonymous with cultural diversity, the Big Apple Film Society seeks to recognize and support films and filmmakers that focus their attention on the unique qualities of individuals of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

The Big Apple Film Festival will screen a variety of specially selected film from the New York City independent film community, as well as additional selections from across the country and around the world. The festival includes New York City premieres, interactive panel discussions with industry professionals from the New York City film community, honorary award presentations to individuals who have played an influential role in independent filmmaking in the New York City area, networking parties and events, as well as a closing night awards ceremony in which awards will be presented for achievement in filmmaking, screenwriting and acting.

Jonathan Lipp  was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the festival and the state of the New York City Independent Film Scene in 2012 and moving forward, as well as bestowing a special honor onto celebrated documentarian Morgan Spurlock.

Big Apple Film Festival from Johnny Cathcart on Vimeo.

Can you tell us a little about the history of the ‘BIG APPLE FILM FESTIVAL’?  Why did you decide to start the festival in the first place?
As a filmmaker myself I felt that there were not enough outlets for indie filmmakers to show there work. I wanted to provide another outlet so that films that should be seen are seen. Also, I love New York City and I wanted to do something to celebrate the arts and artists in the Big Apple.

What is it about the NYC Independent Film Scene that makes the ‘BIG APPLE FILM FESTIVAL’ possible in such an over saturated market?
We are the only film festival in NYC that focuses our attention primarily on New York. Most of the films we show were in the New York area, most of the filmmakers we honor are from this area and the industry people we invite are generally NYC based. We are a true NYC festival.

What kind of criteria must a film have in order to be accepted into the festival?
A good film with interesting and innovative characters that can be inspirational, entertaining, and possibly educational.

You have decided to award celebrated documentarian Morgan Spurlock with this years “Golden Apple” award.  Can you tell us about the award and why did you feel that Mr. Spurlock is a worthy recipient?
Spurlock is a New York based filmmakers. He has spent most of his professional career in NYC. Much of his work has been done in NY. He also a true indie filmmakers.

How did the festivals partnership with Tribeca Cinemas occur?

We began in Tribeca Cinemas in 2006 because it is the perfect size for our audience, it’s in a very “artsy” location and it has a reception room attached. Perfect for a local festival.

Besides a quality slate of films, what other kind of events can we expect at the festival?
Receptions, q and a’s, networking events, awards presentations

What advice would you give anyone out there who is interested in putting on a film festival?  Can you describe a little about the early days of the ‘BIG APPLE FILM FESTIVAL’?
Early days is the same as now. Quality films with interesting and innovative characters that send a message. My advice to someone putting on a festival would be to have understanding of your goals and what your mission is. Ours is celebrate NYC films and filmmakers. That’s why we also have out cityscape award that goes to the best New York centric film. So, know your purpose.

Over the years what have been some of your favorite films or moments of he festival?

Favorite films include Love, Ludlow with Brendan Sexton III and Alicia Goranson, Suffering Man’s Charity with Alan Cumming and Anne Heche, The Living Wake with Jesse Eisenberg, Breaking Upwards with Zoe Lister Jones, The Pill starring Noah Bean, Rachel Boston and Anna Chlumsky. Favorite moments have been some of our informative and entertaining Q and A’s and panel discussions.

As our mission (similar to your own) is to help connect the world of NYC Independent film figures better, how would you describe the atmosphere of filmmaking in NYC today?  Do you believe that NYC remains a cohesive place for filmmakers to express their creativity in ways they wouldn’t be able to anywhere else or has the rise in New Media and digital technologies made filmmaking hubs like NYC and LA less relevant then in the past?

I think NYC is the best place to make films. It is filled with innovative artists and entertainers from all walks of life. The city has so much to offer to filmmakers. It is a great place to network with other filmmakers.

November 14 – 18, 2012
@ Tribeca Cinemas
Buy Tickets – HERE


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