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Festival Chair share insights in interview with East County Magazine 

By Matthew Manosh


Photo: Borrego Springs Film Festival 2022 Poster


March 23, 2022 (Borrego Springs)  -- A desert town away from the city, with films by independent artists from around the globe. It sounds like the perfect setting for a film festival. That’s the backdrop for the Borrego Springs Film Festival, which normally takes place in January, but was pushed back due to the COVID pandemic to this week, starting Thursday, March 24 and continuing through Monday, March 28.


East County Magazine got a chance to sit down and talk with the chairman of the film festival, Fred Jee who discussed the early days of the festival and what’s yet to come.

“Back in 2010, the local Chamber of Commerce board asked me if I would be interested in creatingsomething that would add a little more activity to Borrego,” Fred Jee explained. Not knowing how to run a film festival, he went to the Idyllwild Film Festival to talk to organizer and learn how it is done.


The first Borrego Film Festival was held in 2014 in the local theater. “Out of 60 films submitted, when we put it out there on Film Freeway, the brokerage for film festivals, we had about 28 films that were showing at the time,” Jee told East County Magazine. 


Photo, right: Fred Jee 


The number of films submitted and projected on the screen has grown since that time. This year at the festival, a total of 88 films will be shown across the five days. The films being screened are part of five categories Animation, Documentary, Hispanic Latin, Narrative Feature, or Narrative Short.


“Our submissions come from all over the world,” explained Jee, who formerly worked as a film liaison for the Anza-Borrego State Park and considers himself a “film buff.”


The film continued even during the pandemic, converted to a drive-in format in 2021. This year, it’s back to a live, in-person event.


The Borrego Springs film festival is dedicated to honoring the filmmakers and their art. The event is now ranked in the top 100 film festivals on FilmFreeway, out of 10,000 festivals rated.


Photo, left: Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center sign, where the festival will be taking place


Film festivals are starting places for many filmmakers, Jeenotes. One animated film shown here went on to be nominated for an Academy Award.


The most important key to producing a winning film? “You’ve got to tell a good story,” Jee advises would-be filmmakers, adding, “We want to honor your art.”


Next year will be the 10th anniversary milestone for the Borrego Film Festival -- when they want to do something special to celebrate. Organizers are in the midst of fundraising for the occasion. 


You can see the full line-up of films on this year’s 9th annual Borrego Springs Film Festival on the event’s website here.


 Here you can view our full interview with Fred Jee.


Matthew Manosh is an intern for East County Magazine, pursuing film studies at Grossmont College with a goal to become a filmmaker.

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