Didn’t make it to Sundance this year? No worries—there is the Docurama Film Festival, an event of a different sort that you don’t have to hop on a plane in order to attend. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your living room. Docurama, a leading distributor of documentaries both in digital and DVD forms, commenced its fifth annual film festival today by releasing 12 award-winning documentaries on DVD. Although you may not get the experiences of sharing your screening room with fellow cinephiles or partying with moviemakers during this fest, you do have the unique privilege of accessing the selected movies whenever you please.

MM had the opportunity to ask Docurama Films’ head programmer, Liz Ogilvie, a few questions about this nontraditional fest and the
potential future of film festivals all over.

Beth Levin (MM): The Docurama Film Fest is essentially a collection of movies put on DVD, so how does it fit the traditional “festival” model?

Liz Ogilvie (LO): The Docurama Film Festival fits the “traditional” festival model because we are bringing the most interesting and noteworthy films in the world of documentary to-date to an audience similar to Sundance, Tribeca and SXSW. The films that are in each Docurama Film Festival have been on the festival circuit and have been specially “programmed” for each release. The directors and producers also range in experience from first-time filmmakers to seasoned pros with many films under their belts. Also, there is a wide range of genres, from political to LGBT and murder-mystery to hot button social issues. Invariably, we will also pull a title from our catalog and present a classic film or a famous filmmaker and present a film as a “retrospective” or “spotlight.”

MM: By the very nature of this being a DVD-based festival, you are opening up your audience to a much wider demographic and helping the moviemakers in getting their works seen by more people. What else do you hope to achieve with this project?

LO: We hope it builds awareness about documentary film at retail [outlets] and for our buyers to be made excited about documentary and outside-of-traditional-Hollywood fare. There are great films with exceptional storytelling and bigger and better characters.

MM: Does the solitary nature of this event also take away from the true festival experience—one where moviemakers interact in a forum with screenings, panels, events, etc.? What are the benefits of allowing viewers the chance to create their own “festival experience?”

LO: The audience can pick and choose what they want to see depending on their own personal tastes, but taking into account that there are no panels or events. We created a robust Web component with forums, blogs and a podcast listening booth where the directors talk about their filmmaking experiences and the challenges they faced in the making of their films.

MM: Docurama projects the fest as being a sort of “film festival in your living room.” Do you think the traditional festival model is changing a bit, because of more innovative projects in the industry such as yours?

LO: Yes, I believe they will change due to the ever-expanding digital realm that will make films more accessible to bigger audiences… However, the interactive film festival experience will remain as part of a community-building experience and the streaming/online component will add another layer to the fun film festival experience.

Visit http://www.docurama.com for more information.