What is OFFICIAL BEST OF FEST?
Official Best of Fest is a cutting edge organization that employs an army of curators who attend the world’s top film festivals on the lookout for the best of the best undistributed shorts and features. The goal is to give underappreciated and overlooked independent films the attention they deserve, or as founder Rick Stevenson puts it, “help a quality-starved public, junk-food fed audience get cinematic nourishment.”
It’s the ultimate international great film find fed by the world’s best film festival programmers. The most well-written, subversive, innovative independent films only appear at a select few of the world’s film festivals, likely to never enjoy wide distribution. How is the public ever supposed to wade through it all to find the diamonds in the rough? Not everyone can just hop on a plane to catch Sundance, Cannes, or Toronto. OBOF’s team of industry professionals is up to the task of doing the dirty work for everyone.
OBOF is financing this service by bringing you boxed sets of “the best films you’ve never seen” – great films that you generally can’t get anywhere else.
WHO DECIDES THESE FILMS ARE THE BEST?
While any form of judging is subjective, OBOF relies on the wisdom of film festival audiences, juries and programmers, award-winning filmmakers, and industry experts to identify the best films.
WHO ARE THE CURATORS?
OBOF’s curating team consists of an international posse of film curators, who through their collective film festivals and contacts manage to see the majority of the 25,000 films made every year.
Among the curators are SIFF’s own Carl Spence; Geralyn Dreyfous, the Founder/Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Film Center; Ted Hope, famed indie film producer; Paula Silver, a member of the Foreign Selection committee for the Academy Awards; Nicole Guillemet, former co-director of the Sundance Film Festival; and many more industry veterans with equally impressive pedigrees.
WHAT ARE THESE BOXED SETS?
These COMPILATION GIFT SETS are in response to those millions of film fans who ask, “Where have all of the good movies gone?” OBOF’s answer is, “They’re still being made, you just need to know where to find them.”
The boxed sets are categorized not by genre but by the experience of watching the film or the company you watch it with. They include:
…with more coming all the time.
HOW MANY FILMS ARE IN THE BOXED SETS?
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GIFT SET AND A PERSONAL PACK?
WHY ARE THESE COMPILATIONS DIFFERENT? WHAT MAKES THEM MORE SPECIAL THAN ALL THE REST OF THE FILM BOXES OUT THERE?
There are several life-changing movies out there and you’ll never get to see them because only about a quarter of them end up in our Cineplexes. The rest play at the world’s best film festivals only to disappear because Hollywood tends to hog the shelf space, whether their films are any good or not. OBOF boxed sets offer the consumer the chance to easily see these films, most of which you can’t find anywhere else, in any other boxed set out there.
WHY ARE THESE FILMS SO “HARD TO FIND”?
The model for most independent filmmakers is to either lure investors (very difficult) or go all-in themselves and max out their credit cards to finance their film. If the movie actually manages to get made without studio backing, the filmmakers then pray that it gets accepted into Sundance, and maybe, just maybe if the film fits into the schedule and target demographic of a particular boutique banner like Focus Features or Fox Searchlight and is a hit with audiences, it’s got a slim chance to be picked up and distributed. And even then, it may never be released beyond New York and Los Angeles, likely to enjoy only a very limited run in theaters.
The chances of a low-budget indie film getting a wide theatrical release? Virtually zero. Hollywood’s monopoly on the film industry has had the same effect on product quality as all monopolies do in any industry. When an oligarchy of powerful companies controls everything, quality inevitably suffers. OBOF has found a way to circumvent the profit-driven gatekeepers of the lumbering studio system. What does that mean to the casual movie fan? Fresh ideas. New concepts. Original scripts. Better movies. And the more inclined the public is to see film as a premier source of art and entertainment, the more demand there will be for good product, thus increasing the likelihood that the best films, big or small, will be seen by as many people as possible.
WHERE CAN I BUY OBOF BOXED SETS?
SIFF Box Office (in main office); Ticket Island (at Pacific Place); SIFF Cinema; Nordstrom; Roy Street Coffee & Tea; Fireworks Gallery; select Whole Foods; Kitson LA; gift stores nationally; and, of course, www.officialbestofest.com (free shipping!)
WHO STARTED OBOF?
OBOF was founded by Seattle-area Director/Writer/Producer Rick Stevenson, known for his work in film and television in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
Stevenson’s production credits include PRIVILEGED (1983) starring Hugh Grant; RESTLESS NATIVES (1985) starring Ned Beatty; PROMISED LAND (1987) starring Meg Ryan and Kiefer Sutherland; SOME GIRLS (1989) starring Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Connelly and Andre Gregory; and CROOKED HEARTS starring Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Noah Wylie, Juliette Lewis and Peter Coyote. Stevenson made his feature film directorial debut in 1995 with MAGIC IN THE WATER, starring Mark Harmon and Joshua Jackson. His next, widely lauded, feature film was THE DINOSAUR HUNTER with Christopher Plummer (1999). This was followed by ANTHRAX (2001) starring Cameron Daddo, David Keith, William B. Davis, Ed Begley Jr.
Most recently, Stevenson directed, co-wrote and produced EXPIRATION DATE (2006) starring Robert Guthrie, Dee Wallace Stone and David Keith, which has garnered 34 awards internationally.
Stevenson has directed many programs for television including ED for NBC and his work as a director of television commercials has garnered myriad awards.
In 2004, Stevenson founded thefilmschool with Tom Skerritt and Stewart Stern.
He holds a PhD from Oxford University, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in history from Whitman College in Washington State.