Liberty Film Festival a Huge Success
The Liberty Film Festival, held October 21-23 in West Hollywood, was a huge success! Thanks to an extraordinary level of support from the conservative and libertarian community - and from conservative news sites such as NewsMax - Hollywood's conservative film festival attracted 3,500 admissions this year. Furthermore, several festival films are already on their way to mainstream distribution as a result of their successful festival screenings.
The festival's opening night featured some unexpected excitement. As author David Horowitz gave a stirring speech about the need for academic freedom on college campuses prior to the screening of "Brainwashing 201," two left-wing protesters stormed the stage, shouting: "Fascists have no right to speak! You have no right to speak!" Festival Co-Director Jason Apuzzo, along with several festival volunteers and audience members, stopped the protesters from reaching Horowitz and dragged them kicking and shouting out of the theater. When more protesters attempted to further disrupt the proceedings, they were shouted down by the audience. The protesters might have intended to disturb the festival's opening night - but their behavior came off more as comedy than drama, and was greeted with laughter by the crowd. Their behavior only further energized those present, who were gathered together to bring greater intellectual diversity to Hollywood.
The festival's closing night was a joyous affair. Actor Robert Davi, film critic Michael Medved, and screenwriter Robert Avrech gave out awards for Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, and Best Screenplay in the Screenplay Contest. The 2005 Liberty Film Festival Best Feature Film Winner was "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," written and directed by Wayne Kopping, produced by Peter Mier and Raphael Shore, and was a production of HonestReporting.com. The 2005 Liberty Film Festival Best Short Film Winner was "Brainwashing 201: The Second Semester," directed by Evan Maloney, produced by Stuart Browning and Blaine Greenberg, and was a production of On The Fence Films. The 2005 Liberty Film Festival Screenplay Contest Winner was "The Real Thing," a hilarious comedy about reality TV, written by Gary and Beth Hoover.
Other festival hits were "Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60," written and directed by Kevin Knoblock, executive produced by Ron Silver and Dave Bossie (with Tammy Bruce as featured speaker at the film's screening); "Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution," directed by Nina May and produced by Nina May and Tricia Erickson (with Larry Elder and Ted Hayes as featured speakers at the screening); "365 Boots on the Ground," directed by Sergeant Kc Wayland (about his recent year-long tour of duty in Iraq), and produced by Tucker Tillman; and "Cochise County, USA: Cries From the Border," directed and produced by Mercedes Maharis, which featured introductions by Congressman Ed Royce, chair of the House Subcommitte on International Terrorism and Non-Proliferation, Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox (the founders of the Minutemen), and Anna Marie Evans, a Mexican immigrant spokeswoman.
The festival's panel discussions were also a big hit. The Panel Discussion on the Blacklist was covered by C-SPAN and featured legendary film critic and film historian Richard Schickel ("Elia Kazan: A Biography"), NewsMax's own Jim Hirsen ("Hollywood Nation"), author Ron Radosh ("Red Star over Hollywood"), Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times, Jeff Britting ("Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life"), and socialist author Ed Rampell ("Progressive Hollywood").
Everybody enjoyed the spirited and intelligent debate between the different political viewpoints represented on the panel. Special kudos go to our vigorous and articulate NewsMax colleague Jim Hirsen, who more than held his own on the Blacklist panel! Jim also sold-out copies of his popular "Hollywood Nation" at a book signing after the panel.
Also huge successes were the the Film & TV Production Panel moderated by Michael Medved, with panelists Frank Price (former head of Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios), Joel Surnow (Executive Producer of "24"), Cyrus Nowrasteh (writer/producer of ABC's big new 9/11 miniseries), producer Warren Bell ("According to Jim"), producer Scott Gardenhour ("Pearl Harbor"), and producer Doug Urbanski ("The Contender"); our Film Finance & Distribution Panel with Steve McEveety (producer of "The Passion"), Trevor Drinkwater (CEO of Genius Products), and Mark Bisgeier (a founder of TriStar Pictures), moderated by filmmaker and film financier Steve Bannon; and our Screenwriting Panel Discussion with writers Andrew Klavan ("Don't Say a Word"), Roger L. Simon ("Enemies: A Love Story"), Craig Titley ("Cheaper by the Dozen"), Paul Guay ("Liar, Liar"), Burt Prelutsky ("M*A*S*H"), and Charlie Carner ("Vanishing Point").
The Liberty Film Festival also showcased the diversity of religions and nationalities in this new conservative film movement. The festival screened five films by Kurdish and Iraqi filmmakers as part of its "Voices of Iraqi Freedom" presentation, featuring the U.S. premiere of films from the First Short Film Festival in free Iraq. The festival also had speakers of Indian, Latino, Middle Eastern, and African-American descent - including Larry Elder, Ted Hayes, the Rev. Jesse Peterson of The Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), Gloria Jackson (great-grandaughter of Booker T. Washington), Mason Weaver, Nonie Darwish, and leaders from the Congress of Racial Equality.
The success of this year's festival bodes well for Liberty 3, and for conservatives working in Hollywood. The buzz, networking and media presence at this year's event mark a turning point for industry professionals who want to 'come out' as conservatives in Hollywood. We look forward to our next festival - which will feature an even greater proliferation of films, panels and celebrity guests - and the role the festival will play in the revitalization of Hollywood.
Vice Chairman of Voter Education