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V is for Victory


Year five of the PollyGrind Film Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada has started its engines.  PollyGrind director Chad Clinton Freeman took a defiant little jab at the mainstream by officially announcing the fest's 2014 call for entries on March 2nd - the day of the 86th Academy Awards ceremony.

"PollyGrind 5: Victory", the fest's fifth annual showcase of boldly adventurous, audacious, and rebellious independent film, is scheduled to run October 16th through the 18th, 2014.

This film fest is a standout for me, for a few reasons.  In 2011, my film Ratline played the fest and won "Best Feature in the Crime Film Category", as well as "Best Use Of Music".

Last year, "PollyGrind IV: A New Hope" helped me celebrate the ten year anniversary of another movie of mine, China White Serpentine.  The film was a Special Showcase Selection, screening as the grand finale of the festival. 

But a bigger reason PollyGrind is near and dear to my heart is that the founder of the fest, Chad Freeman, has stated that my movie Scrapbook (1999) was one of the inspirations for creating the film festival in the first place.  He recently sent me an email and kindly gave me permission to post it here:

"All of your films, especially Scrapbook, are very influential on me. You are one of what I would call the pioneers of modern indie film (Shane Ryan and Giuseppe Andrews being two other great influences on me, but you are the King) that showed me the spirit of experimentation, pushing boundaries, and taking viewers into not only new places, but places that really leave an impact on them.  Scrapbook is an underrated modern day classic.  Luckily The Bunny Game and Daddy’s Little Girl, back to back winners in 2011 and 2012, have shown that the Scrapbook experience is still alive. To me, those two are the ultimate epitome of that experience, but many more films shown at PollyGrind each year take me to dark and unknown places and help me exorcise and conquer demons, or simply force me to look at something I normally turn a blind eye to, or possibly never knew existed. It’s all empowering and inspiring to me, and my goal with this event each year is to share that with the world."  -  Chad Clinton Freeman, founder of The PollyGrind Film Festival

Seeing how impressively Chad has grown the festival in only five short years, and hearing all the amazing things the fest has done for the filmmakers who've screened their work there, I'm truly honored to have contributed a tiny spark that helped inspire Chad to conjure his inferno. 

When we were shooting Scrapbook, we speculated that such an abrasive, unflinching, uncompromisingly brutal little movie may be seen by ten people, then vanish from the market forever.  I could never have imagined the movie would inspire a celebrated indie film fest in Las Vegas a decade later.  Remember, all you filmmakers, writers, artists, and actors... unwaveringly follow your creative instincts, and don't be pressured to stray from your distinct artistic path, because staying the course is the best way to end up inspiring other artists... you could potentially set off a chain reaction that may positively impact many others down the line, the way PollyGrind has and continues to have such a positive impact on the filmmakers it showcases. 

The PollyGrind Film Festival celebrates diversity, individuality, and artistic freedom, spotlighting feature films, documentaries, shorts, medium films, trailers, music videos, and screenplays of all genres, from all around the globe.  In addition to traditional honors like "Best Director" and "Best Screenplay", the festival grants unique awards such as "Best Nontraditional Film Experience" (2013, Adam Rehmeier's Jonas), "Most Thought-Provoking Film" (2013, Jeff Wedding's A Measure Of The Sin), "Best Use of Violence/Gore" (2012,  Dave O'Shea's Day Job), and "Most Heart" (2011, Shane Ryan's The Girl Who Wasn't Missing).

PollyGrind was named one of 2012's “25 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker Magazine.  In 2013, the fest was voted by readers to MovieMaker's "Top 5 Coolest Experimental/Underground Film Festivals".  PollyGrind official selections have gone on to score distribution deals with Lionsgate, Showtime, IFC Midnight, Synapse Films, Cult Epics, and Autonomy Pictures, to name a few.  Filmmakers such as Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary) and Calvin Reeder (The Rambler) received major boosts in their careers when their early works won key awards at the fest.  Randy Moore’s 2013 Sundance Official Selection Escape From Tomorrow was first an Official Selection of PollyGrind in 2012. 

The film festival “lives to champion underdogs by turning them into beloved sensations,” and has “single-handedly redefined what to expect during the film festival experience,” Withoutabox stated in their 2013 spotlight on PollyGrind. 

The deadline for 2014 submissions is April 30th.  The late deadline is May 13th, the Last Minute Deadline is June 30th, and a Withoutabox Extended Deadline lands on July 31st.  Get all the details at the PollyGrind official website and Facebook page.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze