NBC’s Meet the Press Film Festival began as a celebration for the network show of the same name’s 70th anniversary, and it’s continued on into a third year featuring 20 short, issue-based films from five different countries. Such a selection of poignant, issue-driven filmography begs the age-old question: Why is Chuck Todd running a film festival?
“I’m as frustrated as anybody in the news business, wanting more real estate to tell stories that we don’t have time to get out sometimes on broadcast television,” Todd said. “The festival is another opportunity.”
Todd is the mastermind and panel host behind the festival, which will be held on October 7 at Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in collaboration with the American Film Institute. The one day event expects around 450 attendees viewing eight “tracks” of film. Audience members can pick which categories they’d like to purchase tickets, and see a selection of short docs surrounding the same topic. Each track will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by NBC correspondents including Katy Tur, Jacob Soberoff and Andrea Mitchell.
The one-day event began with the audience. After noticing the spike in Millennial documentary-watching, Todd wanted to meet the needs of a booming audience. He also voted to go short; the festival focuses on documentaries that aren’t full-feature length (to qualify for an Oscar, which two of last year’s films did, the product has to be under 40 minutes).
This year, though, the festival kicks off with the premiere of Toxic Beauty, a 90-minute feature on the public health risks of the cosmetic industry. The film will be showed at 6:30 p.m. on October 6 at the U.S. Naval Heritage Center.
But the long answer is that Todd wants Meet the Press to break into the documentary field, and hopes there can be a time when MTP can host a library of documentary films. His dream is partially coming true: after the festival, select films are available for streaming through November 3 on NBCNews.com/MTPFilm and the NBC digital news app. The films will also be mentioned on MTP for the month of October.
Todd will be moderating the Climate in Crisis: The Flood as well as The Lost panels, the latter of which covers people’s struggle in the aftermath of large-scale tragedy and natural disasters. Directors Yi Seung-Jun and Nadia Hallgren will be discussing their films In the Absence and After Maria, respectively.
Todd said the panel discussions are necessary for audience members and director to discuss each film’s message in a constructive way, even if both parties don’t agree. Overall, he feels documentaries are less polarizing.
“It’s not meant to be some left, right, red, blue hate fest,” Todd said. “It’s more of a ‘Have you thought about this problem in this way?'”
Tickets for the festival can be purchased at NBCNews.com/MTPFilm.