“What kind of beast is your salamander?” asked the Prince. “It is hard to tell their kind, your Honor,” said Golg. “For they are too…
or, the audacity of putting on a festival
The Topanga Film Festival—traditionally—has always been staged under the glow of a full moon. Or, at the least, tried to be in its vicinity as the weekends rolled around. The festival, in its young, nascent years, found its footing in the July or August moons. But as life’s pursuits took turns—some planned, some circumstantial —the festival began to bend to those forces, eventually nesting in the fall, around Labor Day.
Now, the moon. It’s not just a celestial body. It’s a marker—of time, intent, and—well, in the context of the film festival, audacity. That’s what came to mind when contemplating what it truly takes to pull off a film fest in a place like Topanga. Here’s a town, nestled in a canyon, often grumbling about its lack of public amenities, like parking, venues, accommodations, and then septic systems.
While the practicalities should quickly discourage the endeavor, the spirit whispers ‘perfect’. There’s something innately Topanga-esque about gathering folks from all over, under the open skies, and celebrating stories, creativity, activism and a shared love for the art of cinema.
Topanga, serenely detached from the surrounding urban hustle, has long been a magnet for the creative soul. The film and entertainment fabric of the larger area has many threads reaching into this canyon, and we find ourselves amidst filmmakers, artists, storytellers—neighbors and friends who not just resonate with the festival’s ethos, but more often than not, want to support and jump in. They’ve been the backbone, the soul, offering their craft, insights, and a whole lot of personal sacrifice to make the festival the global fest it has become.
A week ago, witnessing the rise of the magnificent Pisces Moon, I felt that familiar flutter in my stomach. A cocktail of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. This lunar clockwork, for the past 17 festivals, has been the harbinger of that frenzied final lap. The “One Moon to Festival” realization has been the cue to rev up, to rally the troops, and to anticipate the s-curves ahead, known and unknown.
This year things feel a tad different. Could be because, for the first time, TFF is syncing up with a waxing moon. So, the second August full moon was a gentle reminder that there’s still a moon-and-a-half to go. But more so, this year, the source of my relative tranquility has been the rock-solid team – their passion, competence, dedication, and the combined experience of them all, many who’ve been in this dance since the festival’s baby steps.
What does it take to present the 18th edition of the Topanga Film Festival? Much. Behind those curtains that will rise are countless hours of toil—in producing, programming, outreach, fundraising, and all the other minute details that need to fall in place. But when October 19th dawns, it all comes together, seamlessly. And as you, our community, our collaborators, our artists, step in to share and experience the stories on and off the screens, the discussions, the festivities – know that it’s been a labor of love, audacity, and a bit of moon magic.
Audacious, after all, is about daring to dream, being recklessly bold, and dancing—preferably, by the light of the moon.