Conservative Spotlight: Liberty Film Festival

It is commonly assumed that Hollywood, from directors to actors, is liberal. The Liberty Film Festival, set to take place October 21-23, is an annual event that aims to debunk this myth.

Started last year, the Liberty Film Festival, co-founded and co-directed by Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murty, is Hollywood’s first and only conservative film festival. It seeks to give prominence to talented filmmakers who cannot get their work shown within the existing Hollywood system, as well as to educate the public on films from a conservative perspective through commentary on their blog, Libertas.

“We just grew very uncomfortable with the fact that our side was not being allowed to get their films made or if we were making our films, that the mainstream studio system, the distribution apparatus and the mainstream film festivals would not pick them up,” Murty told Human Events. “The infrastructure of the town is run by the left and they are literally blacklisting the right and not allowing their work to be shown.”

“It’s a very bad situation because the public thinks that there are only liberals in this town and there are actually a lot of good conservatives who are doing a lot of good work, but it needs to be seen,” she said. 

Both Apuzzo and Murty are familiar with the film industry. Apuzzo is a writer and director who grew up in Los Angeles, and Murty is an actress and writer who has lived in Los Angeles for the past five years. As conservatives, they tried to “go along to get along” and “not be political” in order blend into the industry. However, they became dissatisfied with the fact that those on the right have such a difficult time getting their work shown and accepted in liberal Hollywood.

“I think it’s good for everybody if conservatives have a chance to get their work out and the Liberty Film Festival was a vision by Jason and me as a forum for conservative, libertarian and right-of-center filmmakers to show their work to the public,” Murty said.

Unknown even to many who live there, the leftist elite did not always dominate Hollywood. In fact, many Republicans initially helped establish Hollywood, and Republicans founded many major studios. Louis B. Mayer of MGM Studios was one prime example. There were also a number of Republican actors and directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B. DeMille.

Even though Hollywood leaned to the right, the conservatives existed peacefully with the actors who were liberal. “What we always like to point out is that when Republicans ran the film industry, Democrats could still work. You had Democrats such as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn and John Huston and Billy Wilder who had thriving careers,” Murty told Human Events.

Today, liberal Hollywood actively defies the War on Terror, but when World War II broke out and the United States was led by a liberal President, Republicans still supported the war, Murty said. “Republican Hollywood went out of its way to support a Democratic war effort because they could see there was a larger issue at stake and that was the security of our country,” she said. “It’s just very sad today that when Democrats lead Hollywood, they can’t look beyond their own petty interest to support President Bush and the War on Terror, when it’s collective national security that’s at risk.”

Apuzzo and Murty are hopeful that Hollywood is changing for the better. They said that while there were definitely good filmmakers such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg who evolved during the late 1960s when the left took over, there is a new generation with different ideas and excitement that may have a voice very soon. The only obstacle is the fear of not getting work, but once conservatives make more of a name for themselves, supporters will surface and more well-known actors will emerge.

More than 80 films have been submitted to the Liberty Film Festival already, with submissions focusing on everything from the War on Terror and immigration to right-to-life issues and religious faith.

The festival looks for submissions that fit three criteria: They must be artistically good and entertaining films, their ideas must celebrate conservative or libertarian values (broad issues such as free speech, democracy, family, religious faith and patriotism), and they should be works that have little chance of being seen elsewhere.

The festival is supported by a number of private individuals. “The main sponsor last year was the Foundation for Free Markets, whose president, Paul Harberger has been a wonderful support to us, and they will be supporting us again this year,” Murty said. There are other individuals within the Los Angeles community who help back the festival as well.