"No Commercial Value -- For Cultural Purpose Only"
That's what you're supposed to write on the outside of your parcel when you mail your screener DVD/VHS for submission to foreign film festivals.
Of course, this is to ensure that the festival doesn't get asked by customs in their country to pay any taxes or other fees.
But something is strangely depressing about writing this on padded envelope after padded envelope in the recent weeks of my festival submission marathon. The "cultural purpose" is great, the "only" is a bit limiting, but "NO Commercial Value" at all? C'mon! I know it's just about the screener DVD itself - but the more often you write it, the more it looms somewhere like an omen.
(Not unlike the Bob Dylan line [famously performed by Jimi Hendrix] on the recent season finale of Battlestar Galactica: "There must be some way out of here...")
(And somehow reminiscent of a time several years ago when I had to convince the judge at the Department of Labor court that I totally deserve unemployment insurance because I had been laid off from my graphic design job and my company did not make any money and that filmmaking was only my hobby and not my career. Again I knew this was only about the insurance itself - but there was that looming feeling...)
But it's not a hobby and of course the film has commercial value AND cultural purpose - so I've been very busy making DVDs, writing press kits and submitting to some great film festivals all over the world. Please keep your fingers crossed that "All God's Children" finds an audience at all of these places.
Unfortunately, we won't know anything more until May. Will keep you posted.