My Experiences with “Be My Cat: A Film for Anne” at Film Festivals

Adrian Țofei, June 18, 2015

1. 2015 Fantasporto International Film Festival in Portugal – Official Selection competition for Best Film – World Premiere (109 Min. Cut)

adrian tofei fantasporto    jay sorensen adrian tofei fantasporto 2015adrian tofei fantasporto stage

Top 5 best things at 2015 Fantasporto:

  • It was a totally unexpected selection! Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is my first film ever, I didn’t have any kind of connections in the film industry, no one talked about it, I just sent them the private screener for free by email and I found myself officially selected at one of the world’s top 10 horror & fantasy film festivals, where filmmakers like David Lynch or David Cronenberg have been selected in the previous editions with their first masterpieces! Fantasporto is definitely a discovery festival!
  • The festival offered me free flights to Portugal and accommodation for 5 days. Also, festival director Mario Dorminsky contacted me via email after the selection and was very kind and friendly in conversations, answering promptly to any questions I had!
  • I got very enthusiastic feedback after Be My Cat‘s premiere from both audiences and filmmakers in US, Portugal, Georgia and UK attending Fantasporto! They were honestly impressed by the movie and that meant a lot to me!
  • I got an offer to release Be My Cat online (which I rejected because I had bigger plans) and the movie was also recommended to an important sales agent.
  • Be My Cat got an original article (in the form of an open letter to Anne Hathaway) on Cineuropa, one of Europe’s leading film sites. It also got an article in Cinemagia, the biggest film site in Romania, which helped making the movie known in my country. Other English and Romanian articles, interviews and reviews followed.

3 things that could have been done better at 2015 Fantasporto:

  • The Q&A session after the screening didn’t happen on stage. They invited the audiences to join the Q&A in another room, they didn’t know where that room was, so when I got there there was no one inside, and by the time time I got back to the lobby, the audiences already left disappointed that they couldn’t speak to me…
  • The fact that the festival had some budget cuts and they still programmed so many movies this year, didn’t help filling the very big theatre. It was half full at Be My Cat’s premiere and people told me that in previous editions it was overcrowded!
  • Except for the actual screenings, there were no professional events to meet distributors, sales agents, other filmmakers, or to talk to the press.
2. 2015 Transilvania International Film Festival – Official Selection in competition for Best Romanian Feature Film – Romanian Premiere (109 Min. Cut)

red carpet be my cat a film for anne florentina hariton adrian tofei sonia teodoriutiff alexandra stroe florentina hariton adrian tofei sonia teodoriuadrian tofei alexandra stroe be my cat a film for anne

Top 5 best things at 2015 TIFF Cluj:

  • The simple fact of competing for best Romanian feature film in a FIAPF accredited festival, the biggest in Romania and one of the most important in the world!
  • The festival offered free accommodation for 2 days to me and all the 3 actresses in the movie – Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton and Alexandra Stroe. We finally got together in full formula!
  • TIFF’s artistic director Mihai Chirilov talked on TV very enthusiastically about the movie with every opportunity he had before the festival!
  • The Romanian press wrote in great terms about Be My Cat after the premiere!
  • Lots of photos and a red carpet proved to be great for our public image! 😀

3 things that could have been done better at 2015 TIFF Cluj:

  • There were too many parties and cocktails. Maybe for people used to spend their entire life partying it’s a great thing, but for me it was kinda stressful. You need to attend all those parties and drink in order to socialize with fellow filmmakers and talk business with sales agents and distributors. Because of that, people don’t have the time or the energy to go to actually see the films in the festival. I would prefer a more classical approach, a professional meeting with all the filmmakers, sales agents, distributors and press, where each film has its own desk and team ready to talk business. Like a small film market integrated in the festival.
  • Although TIFF’s press release said that Be My Cat is Romania’s first found footage horror movie, it was not promoted as a horror film in the festival’s official program. Because of this, some people (who probably expected the usual Romanian film dealing with social issues) walked out of the theatre in shock at the torture scene. One horror fan who liked it told me that there would have been much more of them at the premiere if Be My Cat had been better promoted as a horror movie.
  • Be My Cat‘s premiere was programmed at exactly the same time with the premiere of another Romanian film coming straight from Cannes, One Floor Below, and a lot of people in the film industry preferred to go to that one instead of Be My Cat. And again, half full theatre for us.
3. 2015 Dracula Film Festival in Romania – Special Mention Winner – 87 Min. Cut Premiere

dracula film festival

Top 5 best things at 2015 Dracula Film Festival:

  • Be My Cat‘s first award!
  • Although the theatre was half full, the audiences filled it with their reactions! And it also proved to be the most discussed film in the entire festival! I wasn’t aware of this while being there, but when I got home I read on Romanian blogs and sites things like “I guess you already know that the festival’s sensation was Be My Cat” – and I was like – what? why didn’t anyone told me that while I was there? ha ha
  • I talked to an important sales agent who attended Dracula Film Festival, who was also present at Fantasporto.
  • The visit to Bran Castle, which some say it’s the same castle described in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I enjoyed it a lot! We had a great tour guide that gave us a lot of essential info, some of which even I, a Romanian, didn’t know about.
  • Be My Cat‘s actress Florentina Hariton got inspired by her experience at this festival and plunged into filmmaking with her upcoming short film Duality!

3 things that could’ve been done better at 2015 Dracula Film Festival:

  • The person taking care of the guests was unprofessional and rude; even before my arrival, she didn’t answer my emails, I had to write on the festival’s facebook page in order to get a response about my hotel, one day before departure. And then I found out that she gave us a 2 stars hotel at about 2 miles (3 km) from the festival’s main venue. And a filmmaker I knew from Finland and his team got a 3 stars hotel at a couple of hundred meters. When I asked about this she said that’s because they’re from abroad. So practically she treated us like shit because we’re Romanians. The festival’s director explained to us similar things, but at least he had a decent attitude compared to that person taking care of the guests, who spoke to us and looked at us like we’re sub-humans. When we met for the first time, I was with the filmmaker from Finland. She shaked hands with him, smiled, and pretended that I’m not there. After a couple of minutes she returned to say hello to me as well, but of course with no smile. It’s the first time in my life when I felt what discrimination feels like.
  • Apart from that issue above, there were also other staff members that behaved rudely or aggressively. At one of the official parties one guy drags me by my sleeve to tell me “who do you think you are, interrupting my discussion”. Looks like I unintentionally interrupted his discussion with someone else minutes ago. I apologised to this guy, but I was shocked by the aggressive way he approached me. And later on I found out that he was one of the festival’s staff members. 😐
  • But even the foreign guests had problems. A different kind. Bunny the Killer Thing missed a good portion of the sound. From what I understood from the movie’s director, the theatre was not properly equipped to support full 5.1 sound and they didn’t inform him about this issue in order to provide a 2 channel sound version. They blamed him for not asking.
4. 2015 A Night of Horror International Film Festival in Sydney – Best Film Winner and nominations for Best Director, Best Male Performance and Best Female Performance – Australian Premiere

a night of horror a night of horror trophy

Top 5 best things at 2015 A Night of Horror:

  • Be My Cat won the biggest prize in the most important genre film festival in Australia! Plus three important nominations!
  • I had absolutely no contacts/connections! I just sent the private screener to the festival via FilmFreeway and after some months I received a very enthusiastic confirmation that Be My Cat has been officially selected!  Later on, in Australia, I found out that the director of the festival (Dean Bertram) personally watches all the submitted movies, from beginning to end, and selects a huge number of them based on value and not contacts (as unfortunately other festivals do). So A Night of Horror is truly a discovery festival!
  • The director did a lot of word of mouth promotion for Be My Cat, so when I arrived there I was very surprised to find out that everyone in the indie film industry in Sydney was talking about the movie, enthusiastically expecting it!
  • A very good movie theater, probably the best ever experienced by Be My Cat so far!
  • The movie was recommended by Empire Magazine Australasia before the festival and the news about winning Best Film was featured in Romania’s biggest news sites. More than that, an important distributor contacted me 3 months after the festival, very enthusiastic about Be My Cat’s award and reviews on A Night of Horror’s site!

3 things that could have been done better at 2015 A Night of Horror:

  • The festival didn’t have money to offer travel, accommodation or meals to invited filmmakers. I was able to attend A Night of Horror just because the Romanian Cultural Institute payed for my flight tickets.
  • The festival didn’t publish the winners on time. The news sites in Romania took the info about Be My Cat‘s award from one of my Facebook posts, but one journalist told me that she googled the info and didn’t find anything. And she was right. There was no info about the awards ceremony, not even on the festival’s social media. They published the list of the winners on the festival’s website only days after it ended. Also, multiple professionals took photos of us at the awards ceremony, but I got them 3 months later.
  • The theatre was half full at Be My Cat‘s screening (and at the other screenings as well). One woman who came to see a regular movie not related to the festival was so enthusiastic to hear about A Night of Horror for the first time! There will definitely be a much bigger audience for this festival if they do more promotion!