Today we spoke to Jason Perdue, Program Director of the

 7th Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

DEADLINE • 19 September 2013


Jason Perdue, Program Director Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

We don’t really create the sections before open calls – usually they are developed in the program, basing them on the films that come through. You kinda get a better gist of what is happening in the world that way I think. Just last year we had three films about the Egyptian revolution which we had no anticipation for. We ended up creating an entire program around it – it just worked out.

We don’t invite any films to screen – we only invite filmmakers to submit along with everybody else. We think it is fair this way. A lot of festivals only leave a very small window for their open calls, with a vast majority of the films curated or invited and this skews the possibilities for the open call films. I hear from filmmakers that they feel like they throw their films into a black hole when they submit to festivals, because when the program comes out, they see that it is just the same 25 films that played at every other festival and are like, ‘My film never really had a chance because it didn’t play at Sundance’. I think we have tried to balance that really well, taking a lot of time to look at the films that come in through open calls for submissions. Because we get so many films, they have to jump off the screen a little bit and that does make it a bit of an uphill climb for the outside filmmaker that is not getting the press and not playing at other festivals yet. I dunno, I feel like we do our best, we try really hard to give them a fair shot. 

If I have invited the film or I know the filmmaker or there is some perceived advantage for the film in the mix, I generally don’t even tell my programmers, I just throw it in there with everything else – they may or may not have heard of it – most likely haven’t and they will just watch it with open eyes. I think that gives us a chance to discover films.

Because we are a small town festival and specifically a documentary festival, I think we get compared favorably, at least by filmmakers, to Full Frame which I am honored is the case. Within the documentary specific niche that we have created, we have been able to make a name for ourselves quicker than if we had have been competing for space in the United States as a general festival.

I wanted to have a way to reach filmmakers especially in Europe and I thought FilmFestivalLife, being based in Europe would have a reach into the market that we haven’t had as much a reach to. Competition makes everybody work harder to make a better product and I am happy you guys are doing what you are doing and encouraging FilmFestivalLife to all of the filmmakers that I talk to.

Jason Perdue, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival to FilmFestivalLife, 5 September 2013 

27-30 March 2014, Sebastopol, United States

Submit to Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival on FilmFestivalLife  

Submit to Reel Indie Film Festival on FilmFestivalLife



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Claire French

Claire French is the Marketing and Communications Director at FFL. Her editorial training is grounded in Arts Management, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Communications and Media, Notre Dame University, Fremantle. Her film experience includes her position as Festival Director of Perth's Bamboo Mainstage Amphitheater. Reach her at

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