“WishMakers” is a documentary about the Tulip Winery, established in an adult special needs residential community in the Village of Hope, Israel.
Producing a film that celebrates life without regard for physical or mental limitations was an especially meaningful experience for my production team and me. So we were honored that “WishMakers” was chosen as the Best Film by the International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture (IFFEHC) 2017, a member of the Film Festivals Alliance (FFA).
FFA is a submission platform known for its money-back guarantee policy for film submissions not accepted by its member festivals. The organization held the awards ceremony for IFFEHC on the island of Bali in Indonesia, which was selected by TripAdvisor as the number-one world destination for 2017. It should come as no surprise that my colleagues and I, from all over the world, chose to attend a festival in this island paradise. What we did not anticipate was the special cultural welcome that we would also be receiving.
Film Festivals Alliance works together with the Royal Palaces of Bali in order to provide the visiting filmmakers with an appreciation for the history and culture of the island. During my visit, I had the privilege of engaging with the Crown Prince and Princess of Blahbatuh at their Palace. We discussed the significance of historical traditions while transitioning into modernity as it related to themselves, their family and their people. I will remember the understanding we shared concerning Balinese life and culture, within and beyond the palace walls.
This interaction was further enhanced when the Crown Prince and Princess, alongside FFA Founder and Director Damien Dematra, presented each award during the ceremony that evening. I felt that I was being acknowledged by new friends. The significant media coverage of the awards ceremony added to the accolades for us winners, too, and verified the high standards of selection that are maintained by FFA and its member partners. (The selected films will be screened for two months in Bali and Jakarta.)
Beyond the actual ceremony, FFA provided an unparalleled degree of courtesy and attentiveness toward all of us attending filmmakers. The comprehensive agenda included a master class and screenings, as well as a variety of touring and dining opportunities. For those who so desired there was even the option to dress in native Balinese attire for the awards ceremony.
Film Festivals Alliance is a unique festival experience. For those who have the honor of being selected (check out the list of participating festivals here), know that you will be introduced to so much more than you’d expect—FFA also presented me with an appreciation for an island and its people. It was an unforgettable experience. I look forward to a repeat performance! MM
Cheryl Halpern is the producer and director of “WishMakers.”
International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture 2017 ran May 11-22, 2017. This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Summer 2017 issue. Top photograph courtesy of Film Festival Alliance: Cheryl Halpern (center) is presented Best Film at the International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture in Bali, Indonesia.