Beaufort is a beautiful, charming area, and we had a fantastic time at the Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) this past week. Brian had to work for the first part of the festival (including the screening of Saying Goodbye), so our sister Joanna agreed to go with me as both paparazza (see her photos from the weekend here) and moral support to keep me from dissolving into a puddle of nerves.
On Wednesday night, BIFF held an opening night reception at the Old Bay Marketplace Rooftop, and luckily the weather was perfect – not too cold, not too hot. While enjoying the delicious food from local restaurants, we had our first celebrity sightings: Tom Berenger and Powers Boothe. I was too chicken to talk to either one, but I had Joanna take surreptitious pictures of both of them.
The screening for Saying Goodbye was on Thursday at 1:40. Not only was I already nervous that I’d be doing the Q&A without Brian, but I was anxious about the venue, since I’d heard it had about 500 seats. That would be the biggest venue we’d played in, and how embarrassing would it be when the only people who showed up were Joanna, me, and a few friends. Luckily that was a silly worry because the most amazing part of the BIFF is the Beaufort Film Society that sponsors it. The members are passionate supporters of films and filmmakers, and they would show up at the start of each day and watch movies until the end of the day. So even on a Thursday afternoon, the theater was almost two-thirds full, which was awesome.
Even better, they were a very reactive audience. We had a lot of laughter and tears during the Saying Goodbye screening, and while I’d love to claim it’s because Saying Goodbye is just that incredible, all the movies that week got the same animated response from the audience. It’s truly gratifying for a filmmaker to play in front of that type of audience.
After the screening, it was time for the Q&A. I took Stuffy the Stand-in for support, but I still almost fainted when Ron Tucker (the charming director of BIFF) handed me the microphone. Somehow microphones make public speaking even more intimidating. But the audience was so gracious and asked such fun questions that I immediately felt at ease. The entire screening and Q&A plus the conversations with audience members afterwards were such a wonderful experience and made me so proud of the movie the Saying Goodbye team has made.
After the screening, we were able to relax and enjoy things more. On Thursday evening, there was a reception and table read of the screenplay finalists. Brian arrived on the scene on Friday. Since we’d never visited Beaufort before, the three Rish siblings tried to balance sight-seeing with watching films. We probably didn’t do either justice, but we got a nice sample of both.
Then on Saturday evening, BIFF held a glamorous awards ceremony. We’re a little disappointed our winning streak was broken, but it was a huge honor that Rebecca Koon was nominated and that we were a short film finalist. Besides, there are some things more important than bringing home a trophy like the enthusiastic support we got all week from new fans and a few opportunities that came up that we’re keeping mum on for now so we don’t jinx them.
After the ceremony, there was an after-party where we finally worked up the nerve to talk to some of the famous people in attendance. Kim Delaney was very sweet, and Tom Berenger is not only handsome and charming, but extremely nice. He and his partner Laura chatted with us for the longest time about dogs and editing and film festivals. And for this old-school Tom Berenger fan, that pretty much made my night!
We had a great time at the Beaufort International Film Festival, and we want to thank Ron Tucker, Rebecca Berry and the rest of the Beaufort Film Society for having us. We highly recommend BIFF to filmmakers out there looking for a top-notch festival experience!