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updated: 3/24/2014 2:10 PM

Film App Festival on Saturday at Hemmens in Elgin

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  • Elgin resident Milan Shah is the brains behind the Film App Festival debuting Saturday, March 29 at the Hemmens Cultural Center.

      Elgin resident Milan Shah is the brains behind the Film App Festival debuting Saturday, March 29 at the Hemmens Cultural Center.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer


Have you ever considered what you're missing out when judges make their selection for film festivals, possibly discarding entries you might deem terrific?

Elgin resident Milan Shah believes there's no reason that should happen anymore.

"It happens in everything from Hollywood to the smallest film festival," he said. "If 10 films are chosen, 11 through 20 are probably really, really good, but for whatever reason they were never chosen. I think there's something that can be explored right at the edges."

That's why Shah, 41, a computer programmer who owns the company Virtual Scribe, came up with the Film App Festival debuting Saturday at the Hemmens Cultural Center.

The festival has two components: a film festival on Saturday and a companion app that will debut the same day.

The festival will include, among other things, the documentary "Embracing Dyslexia" by Elgin filmmaker Luis Macias, the Greek action/adventure/scifi film "Paramnesia" and the cult horror flick "Night of the Living Dead."

Film App will be available at 99 cents for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, Windows Phone 8, Blackberry 10, Firefox OS, HP Touch Pad, Kindle Fire, and Nook tablets, Shah said.

Festival goers who pay the $10 admission ticket will be able to use the app to view 200 more independent films that were submitted as entries for the film festival, Shah said.

Additionally, all users of the app -- whether they attended the festival or not -- will have access to about 250 public domain films, Shah said.

"It's like Netflix for independent films, without ads," he said.

Some of the entries hail as far off as South Africa, the Philippines and the Middle East, along with a couple of music videos, a lot of short films, and some cartoons, he said.

"You're not going to find Hollywood blockbusters here," he said.

"These may require some polish, but they need to be seen. Not everything can be top notch, high-end quality. But even so, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be seen."

Shah spent the past 2.5 years building the app and working on the festival's concept.

In the past, he's built apps for different companies, and his own wedding film app that delivered wedding videos to a Facebook page rather than via traditional DVDs, he said.

"(Film App) is a much more generalized version of it," he said.

To test out the Film App concept among filmmakers, he had a booth at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas for the past couple of years, he said.

His goal is to hold the Indie Film App Festival every three months -- the next one in June -- each time increasing the database of films available on Film App.

All the filmmakers will be getting some money each time someone watches a film, he said.

"Unlike the YouTube or Vimeo models, some of that money is going to be given back to the filmmakers," he said.

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