Despite its name, the festival takes place approximately five miles north of Rehoboth Beach in Lewes, Delaware. The three venues hosting the festival are the Cinema Art Theater, Cape Henlopen High School and the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware. All three venues are near the Five Points area in Lewes.
For 17 years, the festival was held at the Movies at Midway, the 14-screen multiplex along Coastal Highway, but that venue was lost in 2015 and the festival was shuffled slightly up the road. With that change came other changes. Every year for many years, the festival threw up a big, white tent behind the Movies at Midway. It was not only a base of operations. It was also a social hub, a place where festival-goers could hang out and socialize. Special events were also held there. Vendors provided food and beverage.
In 2015 and 2016, the Crooked Hammock Brewery in Lewes became the new social hub. A small tent was set up there. It wasn’t as great as the Movies at Midway, but it was something. This year, the Crooked Hammock won’t have a festival tent. That specific, social hub hasn’t been organized and festival-goers won’t have that gathering space as in year’s past.
Despite this difference, Terry Kistler, president of the board for the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, says, “Already in 2017, we’ve welcomed record membership levels (2,100+) and a significant growth in audience attendance at RBFS events. Our expanded repertoire of year-round offerings has been well-received by the community as attendees embrace content relevant to their passions and/or lifestyles.” For Kistler and those at the film society, it’s no longer just about this annual event. It’s about events and screenings all year long and bringing people to its society-owned venue, the Cinema Art Theater.
Until 2014, the festival was a 4-day event. Now, it’s 8 to 10 days. It used to showcase twice as many films as it does now. This year has no selection of short films, which brings the total number of selections down. There’s only 35 features. A large chunk are documentaries but a majority are international films from various places around the world.
Sue Early, the executive director at the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, says, “Independent films have a way of bringing people together in an environment where wealth, titles, gender, race, culture, or sexual orientation doesn’t matter.” Even without a social hub, there’s still a kind of quiet socializing within the theater that can somehow and someway find an area for conversation outside of it. Early says, “Each film conveys a message that may enlighten, inspire, entertain, or even disappoint, but the viewer always forms an impression and the desire to share it.”
Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invites all countries in the world to submit one film to compete for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The deadline is September 30 and the list of films are published in early October. Five films from that list are playing at this year’s festival.
The Divine Order is from Switzerland. It’s about a housewife who pushes for women having the right to vote in 1971. Carpinteros (Woodpeckers) is from the Dominican Republic. It’s about a prisoner falling in love while in jail and communicating through sign language. Newton is from India. It’s about a man trying to conduct an election in a remote village. Song of Granite is from Ireland. It’s the true-life story of Joe Heaney, an Irish traditional singer. The Square is from Sweden. It’s the satirical comedy about an art exhibit that goes horribly wrong.
Other films of interest include After Louie and I Dream in Another Language. Both include stories involving the LGBT community. Lucky, Marjorie Prime and Menashe are three films that recently have been nominated for Gotham Awards. The festival used to have a regional showcase, but if it did this year the following two documentaries would fit the bill. New Chefs on the Block focuses on two new restaurants in Washington, DC and Quest is about a husband-and-wife music team in Philadelphia.
The festival runs from Thursday, November 2 to Sunday, November 12. Purchasing tickets is not as straight-forward as it was when the festival was held at the Movies at Midway. Tickets are $10, but, in order to purchase a ticket, you have to first purchase a “festival pass.” A festival pass comes at various prices.
The Director Pass and the Producer Pass are good, only for purchasing tickets before the festival starts, particularly before October 27. That deadline has already ended. The Director Pass is $260 for non-members of the film society. Yet, that pass only buys you the privilege to purchase tickets in advance. It doesn’t buy you tickets. By comparison, the Philadelphia Film Festival has an all-access badge for $175, which gets you into any movie, any time, for 4 days. The Director Pass here doesn’t get you any access into the theater. It only allows for advance ticket purchasing.
A Screenwriter Pass is $55 and allows advance ticket purchasing prior to November 2. After that point, it only makes sense to get a Film Buff Pass, which is $30 for non-members, if you plan on seeing more than 4 films at the festival. If not, you should get a Mini Pass, which is $10 for non-members. It allows you to purchase tickets to only 4 films maximum, and those tickets must be purchased on the day of the film’s screening. You’re also only allowed one festival pass per person.
You can buy Rush Tickets for $15. Those tickets are cash only. They don’t require a festival pass, but those tickets can only be purchased 10 minutes before the start of the movie you want to see and only if seats are still available for that movie.
For more information, especially on sellouts, go to http://rehobothfilm.com/festival_film_schedule_descriptions.html