4,300 Attend Guam International Film Festival

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Huge success of second year surprises organizers

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 1, 2012) – Roughly 4,300 people attended the second Guam International Film Festival, according to festival organizers.

Don Muna, who founded the festival last year with his brother, Kel Muna, said he never thought the festival would turn into what it has become.

"We just wanted to see how things went," he said. "And we really drew in a crowd."

Muna said there was a lot of engagement among the crowd of filmgoers, adding the festival promoted a "higher consciousness of the arts."

"Now we realize the potential the Guam International Film Festival can have," he said,

Filmgoers watched 16 feature films -- both narrative and documentary -- as well as 31 short films at this year's festival. Ten of those films were from Guam.

In total, 19 countries and territories were featured at the festival, including Japan, the United States, Switzerland and the Philippines.

Muna said the response he's received from audiences has been extremely positive. He also said much of last year's crow returned for the festival.

"They were here last year and they're here this year," he said.

Muna said he's impressed by the response from filmmakers and that the festival benefits from having big names this year.

"Look at filmmakers like director (Kazuhiro) Soda, the director of 'Peace' -- he's an internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker," said Muna. "And his film was shown here last night."

And local filmmakers have expressed their excitement about the festival.

"The community has always been here, but there's never been a home," he said.

Muna tipped his hat to sponsors of the festival.

"This whole thing wouldn't be possible without them," he said.

San Francisco-based filmmaker Benito Bautista came to the festival after Kel Muna invited him to screen his movie "Boundary."

Bautista, whose film showed Saturday night, showered the festival and the Muna brothers with compliments.

"What they did is a monumental task," he said. "Can you imagine the persistence that went into this?"

Bautista said he enjoys participating in festivals like Guam's and has, so far, been very impressed with the festival's organization. He said that while he's attended several festivals in the past, this one has made huge strides in taking care of film presenters.

"It's only their second festival and they took really good care of me," he said.

Rosanna Barcinas attended the festival as a VIP, which gave her access to all of the films.

"It was definitely worth it," she said.

Barcinas said she attended the festival due to her love for film and "a growing adoration for the Muna brothers."

She said the festival gives the community the opportunity to be a witness to a whole variety of stories.

"There are some stories you can't access otherwise," she said.

She also echoed Muna's point that Guam's location and culture contribute to the festival's atmosphere.

"There's nothing else like it anywhere."

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