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Calling All Festival Couch Potatoes!

By Tamara Krinsky

From John Valadez' 'Passin' It On.'

This September, documentary home entertainment label Docurama launches the second installment of its online film festival with eight new titles and two retrospective films. Head programmer Liz Ogilvie said that the "festival on DVD" concept came about as a result of trying to come up with a fresh way to connect audiences with quality docs.

"Our customers may not always know the particular title of a film that they want to see," explains Ogilvie, "but they are very familiar with the opportunities festivals present to see films that you might not ever have another opportunity to watch. This was a unique way to put together a collection of films that should be seen."

The Docurama Film Festival borrows several ideas from the festival world, such as the film retrospective. In addition to new acquisitions, classic titles from the catalogue are programmed each month to reflect current events or spotlight specific talent. DFF II includes Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini's Farmingville, a complex look at immigration today in the United States. A companion website features an online "festival program guide," follow-up interviews with filmmakers and documentary subjects, a chat room for each film, trailers and interactive features. There's even festival swag available. Says Ogilvie, "We wanted to find ways for viewers to virtually experience a film festival from their own homes, rather than in a particular city or at a specific point in time." 

From Carlos sandoval and Catherine Tambini's <em>Farmingville</em>.

Customers can purchase all of the films in each DFF either individually or as a collection. There is no set theme or genre for each festival. According to Ogilvie, the main consideration when choosing titles was finding films that either have never before been seen on DVD or are compelling due to subject matter, filmmaking talent or their place in the documentary canon.

In addition to Farmingville, DFF II includes Jesse Moss' Con Man, Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt's The Education of Shelby Knox, John Catania and Charles D. Ignacio's The Lady in Question is Charles Busch, Nina Davenport's Parallel Lines, John Valadez's Passin' It On, Paul Devlin's Power Trip, Jonathan Berman's The Schvitz, Roger Weisberg's Waging a Living and DA Pennebaker's Original Cast Album: Company.