Plot: As lifelong movie fans, friends Scott Storm and Paul Osborne had dreams of being in the film business, but found no real success. After failed attempts to break into the world of cinema, the two decided to make a bold movie and create their own movie, in turn hopefully creating their own break. The two raised the cash and shot the movie, a crime drama titled Ten ’til Midnight and they were pleased with the results, so they wanted to shop the flick at film festivals. As the dream of a Sundance premiere faded, the two pursued other festivals and were met with consistent rejection, but eventually found some smaller festivals willing to give them a shot. This film follows that journey, as the two try to get their movie into the public eye and also look at the festival circuit, the good and bad elements involved.
Entertainment Value: Official Rejection is a candid, somewhat bitter look at the world of film festivals, as told from the perspective of filmmakers who try to play the game and have their movies seen. I appreciated that the movie showed both the good and the bad, with no real veneer applied to either side of that coin, as it provides an inside look into a part of cinema that is mostly hidden from public view. The trials of getting into these festivals is examined through the politics, bribes, and corporate involvement, all of which infest this festival world. At the same time, the movie also highlights the bond of these filmmakers, helping each other out, promoting each other, and just the common pains they all endure. So yes, Official Rejection does have a bitter tone at times, but it also has an optimistic outlook at times. You can tell the filmmakers feel like their movie deserved a better fate than it was given, but it doesn’t color every part of Official Rejection, thankfully.
As you’d expect, the movie focuses in on the experiences of the writer and director of Ten ’til Noon, which makes sense, as this is the story of that movie and the attempts to find an audience. As such, some of the material here is very personal and has that tinge of bitterness, but this is a documentary, so showing that side of the filmmakers is part of the deal. Official Rejection devotes ample time to content other than that film however, spotlighting several indie filmmakers and their movies, as well as giving an in depth, inside look at how the festival circuits work. This is not all gloss and glamour either, the scenes where a director is breaking down when a festival tanks his screening is about as raw as it gets. The passion and emotion are remarkable and it helps remind us how important these movies are to the creators. A number of festivals are shown and talked about, some good and some bad, with interviews from officials frequently shown, including Sundance and Slamdance officials. The other interviews are with indie filmmakers and some celebrity appearances, as they discuss the festival world and the process of being seen. This has a raw, unpolished look and feel, but it works and lets us inside the festival world, for better or worse. So if you’re a fan of documentaries or the world of cinema, this is an interesting watch.