The theme for GIFF 2017 was “Make An Impact.” The first day of the festival I went to the SNL Writers Panel at the Avon Theatre in Stamford, CT. The panel included a discussion with two "SNL" ("Saturday Night Live") writers Tim Herlihy and Bryan Tucker -- with moderator Lorne Manly of The New York Times. They discussed their lengthy careers, and revealed how the creative writing process on "SNL" goes -- from script to screen. After the discussion, they took questions from the audience. It wasn’t what I had expected and it was very disappointing. I should have attended the Changemaker Awards instead with Renee Zellweger.

Events and films that inspired and made an impact

The second day of the festival, I went to a panel called “The Film Review.” This was a very interesting discussion with professional film critics held at The Greenwich Arts Council. This panel was more intimate than the "SNL" panel because it was held in a small room.

I asked the panel if they felt that the film industry was failing with the rise of video on demand streaming services like Netflix, with more people staying home to watch films on TV. They responded that the film industry is constantly changing and coming up with solutions to get people to come out and attend movies in theaters, such as the “dinner theaters” like IPIC and Alamo Cinemas.

Later that night, I attended the Opening Night Party at The Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich. This place is large enough to accommodate any event and looks like a classic old mansion. It featured a concert by hip-hop artist Flo Rida. He added a lot of energy to the concert and it was great. For those who are not hip-hop music fans, he knew how to pump-up the crowd and get them dancing.

Actress Sophia Bush was also there to present the film “City of Ghosts,” which they premiered at the end of the evening.

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The Bush Twins (Jenna and Barbara) were also in attendance, and Barbara posed for photos. I did not attend that portion of the party when they showed the film. The party was the most fun and my favorite part of the whole festival. There were plenty of vendors who distributed food and drinks to the crowd. I regret that I didn't get any interviews with Flo Rida or Sophia Bush on the red carpet, but neither did the other members of the press who attended.

The third day of the festival, I saw the film, “The Light of the Moon” at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. It is about a woman who lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn with her boyfriend. She goes out partying late at night, and, walking home by herself, is raped by an assailant. This was a very tough film to watch, but it’s important for people to see it because it's thought-provoking. Also, in this day and age -- if you're female -- you must be careful and be “street smart.” The cast and crew were in the audience, and after the film, they had a panel discussion, but I skipped that part.

On the final day of the festival they were supposed to have a polo match at The Greenwich Polo Club. I'm not sure if it went on as scheduled due to the rain.

And the winning films are…

Here’s a list of the award-winning films at this year’s festival:

  • "City of Ghosts" -- Best Social Impact Film
  • "The Strange Ones" -- Best Narrative Feature Film
  • "Bending the Arc" -- Best Documentary Feature Film
  • "Underpressure" -- Best Narrative Short
  • "The Rabbit Hunt" -- Best Documentary Short Film
  • "Blind Sushi" -- Best Connecticut Short Film