Long Beach Filmmaker Opens Home to Lazy, Cinephilic Strangers for Short Film Festival

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In the era of Airbnb, online dating and ride-sharing, new and invasive—but oftentimes fun—forms of people-connecting have proliferated. The paradox that living in an age where we’re “more connected” than ever has equated to less face-to-face interaction has prompted many people to open their door to strangers in the name of human interaction. Long Beach resident Kathy Payton is one of those people who believes in the philosophy of open doors—particularly if it means an opening her door to a short film festival.

Couch Fest, created in 2007 by Seattle filmmaker Craig Downing and launched in 2008, is the largest one-day shorts festival in the world, with this year’s festival taking place in tons of homes spread across 35 cities across the world.

When it was first launched, Seattle was the only host city. However, word spread quickly to other metro centers with people loving the idea of the awkwardly awesome idea of sitting on someone else’s couch to watch films. Think of it as a metaphorical way to encourage the opening of doors and talking to one another, all the while permitting your derrière to visit exotic places (like Downtown Long Beach). Since its inception, cities in Iceland, Haiti, Thailand, Scotland, Nepal, India, England, Peru, and others have hosted Couch Fest.

“I loved the craziness of it, and the DIY-ness, which you never see at film festivals,” said Downing’s assistant, Ryan Davis. “Too many festivals are often mysterious with their programming, unapproachable, and sometimes pretentious—but not Couch Fest. When Craig moved to Seattle [from Austin], he found people to much more open and friendly. Seattle has a reputation of people keeping more to themselves, so he wanted to do something where you were forced to talk to other audience members and literally go into strangers’ houses. And the idea just took off, both in Seattle and around the world.”

For Peyton, a filmmaker herself, opening up her home provided her and her wife Belinda the chance to not only meet other locals—the couple moved here in August—but also give people a chance to walk around downtown afterwards.

“Why open my home?” Payton said. “I simply love the art of film and have been attending various festivals for many years. I’ve often told friends and family that some the best films or shorts I’ve seen were at festivals. I’ve also had the opportunity of screening one of my films in a few festivals so to be a part of one as a host is so exciting for me.”

Lazy cinephiles, unite!

19 short films, ranging from filmmakers in Switzerland to Seattle, will be shown in Peyton’s home for free on Saturday, December 6 at 6PM. To RSVP to the event (and therefore receive the specific location), RSVP on Facebook by clicking here. Peyton has spots for 20 to 30 people.

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