Dublin Web Fest is a festival that leaves you wanting more. Hosted in the Generator Hostel in Smithfield on 24-26 November, DWF is in its third year of celebrating online storytelling — web series, music videos, short films, VR films, anything made to be viewed online. I wanted to see the rest of lesbian drama Maybelle and Canadian ‘traumedy’ Save Me as soon as the episodes screening at DWF finished, and I’m excited to report that they are both available right now.
Dublin Web Fest starts gossipy. On opening night, mingling with the filmmakers in the crowd, the hot topic is upcoming screenings and the people behind them. “This one’s meant to have a huge budget,” a half-stranger whispers to me during a screening. I ask, huh? “An American,” they tell me conspiratorially.
From then on, all day Saturday and Sunday, it’s dynamic, and pretty frequently, it’s hilarious. The comedies have the audience roaring laughing — the endearingly sardonic Early Days is nominated for Best Actor (Comedy), and later wins Best Directing and Spirit of the Festival. The dramas, when they’re good, are very good. Post-screening, the Irish-made short Terminal is unanimously agreed to be an incredible film about the struggle of women forced abroad for abortions.
In trying to keep with the festival spirit of dynamism and diversity, the programming can come across as somewhat haphazard; for one block, a batch of stylish sci-fi/fantasy is strangely interrupted by a rom-com musical. Sandwiched between a short on growing up with autism and a cautionary tale on social media is a flying rodent and a very kinky date night. The tone shifts could give you whiplash.
The festival runs long, starting at 10am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday, and clocking out just under 12 hours later. With hour-long screening blocks from dawn till dusk, there’s never a lack of things to do in that time, although some issues with scheduling eat into overall enjoyment a little: a disappearing lunch break on Saturday forces hungry festival-goers to decide what programme to miss out on in order to get some food. (I had to skip a class on music video editing with Tony Kearns, personally.) But, okay, it’s a young festival for a budding art form.
Despite a couple of issues, Dublin Web Fest remains engaging the whole weekend through — and thoroughly informative while we’re at it, not only showcasing online storytelling but lacing screening blocks with classes, panels and pitching sessions on the subject.
It’s definitely a festival to look out for in 2018. With partner festivals in the UK, USA, Germany, Spain, Italy and South Korea, Dublin Web Fest is part of an emerging wave of global media and it’s really showing off just what that can mean. Unlike film or TV, web content is easily available anytime, anywhere, to anyone with an internet connection, which provides some amazing opportunities for both filmmakers and audiences. Dublin Web Fest will get you really, really excited about that.
Dublin Web Fest is online at http://dublinwebfest.com. Reporting by James Hudson.