Take a film festival, mix in the networking spirit of a Meetup and Seattle’s homebody tendencies and you get Couch Fest, the annual film festival that takes place in people’s living rooms. Yes, you heard us. That means you go to someone’s house and watch movies – mind you, Sundance-quality shorts. But on a stranger’s sofa. For free.
(The Couch Fest trailer, above, is just as quirky as the event itself.)
If you’re still with me, tomorrow’s your chance to check it out. In Seattle, the festival hub, four people are opening their home to show a total of 42 shorts. There are also 46 more hosts around the world showing a handful of films.
Filmmaker Craig Downing started Couch Fest after he moved to Seattle and found himself up against the infamous Seattle Chill (like a tamer version of the cold shoulder). The festival was a way to “get people to open their doors,” he says. “It’s really a community development project disguised as a film festival.”
Since then, it’s spread to cities around the world and now attracts more than 1,000 submissions, mostly unreleased films from festivals like Sundance and SIFF. Craig and assistant director Ryan Davis whittle that down to the 42 shown, then find film buffs willing to open their homes to anywhere from 20 to 40 strangers.
It’s the West reinventing community outreach through film. And it’s awkwardly awesome. Just like the slogan says.