Bringing doc film fests to the West Coast

Former IDA executive director, Sandra Ruch, and writer and filmmaker Taylor Segrest saw a need for a documentary film festival in LA, so they banded together to create both a West Coast doc film festival and consultancy for docmakers. Realscreen spoke with Ruch and Segrest about the creation of DocAngeles and their consultancy, Cinelixir.
February 11, 2009

Sandra Ruch, formerly the executive director of the International Documentary Association and Taylor Segrest, a contributing editor of Documentary Magazine and writer and filmmaker, have a common goal: to help indie filmmakers. So the duo joined forces on two endeavors – one, a consultancy, and the other, a film festival on the West Coast.

Cinelixir is a consultancy company created by Ruch and Segrest to aid docmakers, from guiding an idea in its infancy to completed films needing help in marketing or distribution. ‘I decided to move on from the IDA and form a consultancy,’ says Ruch, ‘and Taylor and I both love advising and working with filmmakers. Cinelixir was born to work with individual filmmakers in various stages of their working process.’ Together the duo have already worked on a number of films, from The Garden and Fuel‘s Academy campaign to assisting Rise Up, a film on the underground Jamaican reggae scene.

‘Part of what we like doing is working with these films to get them to fruition,’ says Segrest, ‘and luckily for us so far, a lot of the films we’re working with are aligned with our politics and sensibilities and are grass roots oriented, socially-minded movies.’

When they’re not busy giving guidance to indie filmmakers, Ruch and Segrest are turning their efforts co-founding DocAngeles: The Los Angeles International Documentary Film Festival, an effort to bring a doc film fest to the West Coast in 2010. ‘We’ve been developing it piece by piece, building an advisory board, starting to reach out for funding, seeing the festival landscape and how we might best fit into it,’ says Segrest.

Ruch says that there are many established documentary festivals in other States and countries, but the West Coast didn’t have a defining documentary event. So she and Segrest set out to capitalize on that, and to celebrate Los Angeles’ downtown renaissance that could also drive people to the event, which is planned to stretch over four or five days.

DocAngeles’ date is tentatively set for October 2010, and currently has a who’s who of the doc industry on the advisory board, including An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim, Silverdocs festival director Patricia Finneran and Ally Derks, IDFA’s founder and executive director. Segrest says that everyone on the advisory panel are his and Ruch’s contacts and they came on board because they also felt the need for a West Coast event. The event will most likely not be a competitive one, with films being included by invitation and handpicked by the curators of programming blocks. The curators will be filmmakers of note curating sections that in one way or another tie into their own filmography, says Segrest.

Other plans include a Mexican focus to acknowledge the heavy Mexican population in Los Angeles, as well as a wish for an international component.

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