Forever Fest: Girlie films and culture event launches in Austin
When Forever Fest founders Sarah Pitre and Brandy Fons first told me about their event, I was hard-pressed to think of another festival like it. Programmed by women and celebrating girlie pop culture, the weekend-long Alamo Drafthouse affair's demo seems like an after-thought at so many other popular film, book and culture festivals.
"Empire Records," young adult literature, "Dirty Dancing," "Sixteen Candles," cute cat videos and Danceoke (that's karaoke for dancing... look out "Single Ladies") are among the front-and-center features of fangirl-centric festival, which runs Nov. 1-3. Like the Drafthouse's program for Fantastic Fest, Forever Fest is catered to the fan.
Organizers and founders Pitre (a lead programmer for the Drafthouse and host of Girlie Nights) and Fons (of Fons PR, of which the Drafthouse is a client) have already launched their Kickstarter to fund "the ultimate slumber party," set at the Alamo's Ritz location and the Intercontinental in the capital's downtown. The hope is that attendees invite their girl friends (and guy friends, too), as a weekend out to safely be as girlie as little or as much as they want.
But like anything branded for females, there comes an almost political level of what qualifies as "girlie" or "for women." "Rom-com," "girlie" and "chick flick" carry heavy weight, as gendered terms and with some needlessly negative connotations. The organizers have remained resolutely light when it comes to their event, that FF acts not as a statement but a celebration. Below the video, check out what the organizers have to say about reclaiming "girlie," who and what the fest is for and why there aren't more Forever Fests out there.
Tickets for Forever Fest are now on sale. Watch the Kickstarter video, too.
HitFix: Men and women will scream in unison "Damn the Man, save the Empire!" when they see this lineup. Is this an event that is strictly for women only?
Pitre and Fons: Definitely not! Dudes are totally welcome. Forever Fest isn't about gender, it's about a shared passion for girlie pop culture (slumber party movies, young adult fiction, adorable animal videos, etc.). We invite everyone as obsessed as we are to join in on the celebration.
Why aren't more festivals programmed for a "girlie"-loving audience?
Film festivals are typically planned by members of the film industry rather than fans. It doesn't help that movies beloved by the "girlie"-loving audience are sometimes looked down upon by the film community. While we both work in the industry, we created Forever Fest as fans, and our programming is fueled solely by our desire to showcase films and literature that we love.
"Chick flick" is sometimes used as a dirty word (er, phrase) in the movie business. What does the term mean to you?
At Forever Fest, we want to reclaim the terms "chick flick" and "rom com" and restore their positive meaning. For us, any movie that focuses on the female experience is a chick flick and therefore a vital part of our culture. We hope to honor this genre at Forever Fest and provide a place for chick flick fans to geek out without shame.