Durango Independent Film Festival – “DIFF-erent” Kind of Film Fest Brings New Meaning to the idea Grass Roots

February 15, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Entertainment News
Could "Grassroots" not be defined as a group of passionate individuals who share an ardent love for film rebuilding an event that changes the course of community involvement and the way in which community members thinks and feels? The members of the first annual Durango Independent Film Festival have redefined "Grassroots".

DIFF is an entirely independent film festival, run completely by volunteers. Not only have they accomplished this on a shoestring budget, but also they did it in only seven months, with no executive director.

Durango, Colorado is a community that takes pride in enjoying art and culture. In 2001, community members formed the Durango Film Festival, an event that exposed members of the community to award winning independent film.

Despite the Durango Film Festival’s best efforts, financial quandaries caused the executive director to take a hiatus from the Durango Film Festival, leaving the town of Durango without a film festival event. The staff of DFF was faced with a crucial decision: accept the executive director’s decision to not continue the Durango Film Festival, or go ahead with a new festival.
Jane Julian, a fulltime mother and DIFF’s head of Programming, recalls. “We had no response from our ED, and then an article was in the [Durango] Herald announcing the hiatus,” says Julian. “It was decided that it was in our best interest to separate and move forward with a new festival”.

Members of the previous festival moved ahead creating a seven member board, all of which were community members with diverse personal and professional backgrounds. Michele Malach, a Fort Lewis College Professor, the Shorts Programmer and Operations Manager, knew what the implications were of breaking out and starting fresh. “Once the decision was made, which was the most difficult part, we all had to put in more work than most of us had done with the previous organization. I like to say that while we’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re rebuilding it.”

DIFF has moved forward, backed by the strength of a staff composed completely of volunteers, who have put in a combined estimate of 15,000 hours of work. Running March 1st through the 5th,DIFF will bring about sixty of the finest in independent films to Durango, including an Academy Award nominee.

Greg Weiss, an employee at Zircon Storage and festival board member, knows that quality is a trait the new festival wants to maintain. “The films this year are just as strong if not stronger,” says Weiss. “We’re bringing films that Durangoans would not normally see, which is why having a festival here is so important.”

DIFF surely is a grassroots movement. In the face of incredible challenges, members of the organization fought and work hard to continue to bring Durango to the forefront of the cinematic arts. When asked why the challenge of this film event was so important, Michele Malach responded simply, “Because it’s ours.”