Brian Bennett, B’82, founded a short film festival in 1998 in Bangkok, Thailand, centered around inspiring young talent
Brian Bennett, B¿82, is regarded as the ¿godfather¿ of short films in Bangkok, Thailand. Film, admittedly, might not be a traditional industry for a business administration graduate, but Bennett has always had an affinity for marching to the beat of a different drum.
He did, however, embark on quite a traditional business career path upon graduation. In 1982, Bennett accepted a position with IBM where he worked as a Systems Engineer and was quickly groomed for upper-level management.
¿I had good years with IBM in the 1980s,¿ he recalled. ¿That was before PCs and the internet.¿
Bennett worked in the national accounts division at IBM, and one of his most notable clients was the Federal Reserve Bank. While at IBM, Bennett travelled to large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New York City.
He took advantage of the more convenient international travel options that these areas had to offer.
¿[On the weekends and outside of work], I travelled to whatever [international] location that had a promotional fare at the time,¿ he said. ¿I started in Europe (England and Greece) and then travelled to Turkey.¿
He said, ¿I wanted to learn more through travels and study other cultures of life.¿
Bennett¿s travels led him to the realization that a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. career in business was not the life he wanted for himself. So, in 1986 Bennett left IBM, and set off to travel the world.
He trekked through the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, soaked up life in India, but had the most life-changing experience in Ecuador. ¿I met a couple who both worked for the Department of Agriculture. They were married, and yet at any moment they had, they would travel,¿ Bennett recalled.
¿They said I should do the same,¿ he said. ¿They recommended going to underdeveloped countries to see unspoiled lifestyles, and they referenced Peru, Thailand, and India.¿
After a year of globetrotting, Bennett settled down in Thailand for obvious reasons. ¿Good food, good weather, and smiling faces,¿ he said. ¿Also, it¿s inexpensive to live there.¿
He began producing documentaries on environmental issues that were broadcasted on notable networks like the BBC. His documentaries won him acclaim and were often shown at film festivals.
¿Film Festivals are so interesting, [because] we get to see material that we never see in the theatres or on TV,¿ Bennett said. ¿I wanted to bring that opportunity to Thailand and started a Bangkok Film Festival in 1998.¿
The film festival was an immediate success. ¿It went very well and caused two other large film festivals to take off– the Bangkok International Film Festival and World Films in Bangkok Festival,¿ he said.
Dissuaded by pressure to compete with larger-scale film festivals, he took a step back. During this reflection, the idea of a short film festival was born.
¿Times have changed,¿ he said. ¿[Modern] society is all about ¿short¿ attention span events, thanks to Facebook and YouTube.¿
Formally known as Amazing Thailand 9Film Festival, the event is so named for its nine-minute long submission limit. The festival¿s goal is ¿to inspire greatness in others.¿ The festival does not limit submissions to a creative discipline or genre.
The films, however, do have to be nine minutes or less, from opening to closing credits, and require that a signature item appear in the film. In the festival¿s inaugural year, the signature item was the number nine. This year, it is a heart.
9Film Fest will take place in June this year, and boasts a $20,000 award for the first-place film. Well-known companies like Ford have signed on as sponsors.
Robins School student, Jason Mathew ¿13, is on exchange in Bangkok and is interning with the festival. Mathew has quickly taken to the atmosphere at 9Film Fest.
¿I enjoy the passion and fervor that each team member brings to the table,¿ Mathew said. ¿I have never seen individuals who are so passionate for a cause that resulted in no monetary reward.¿
Bennett¿s own passion for 9Film Fest has already made an impression on Mathew. ¿Seeing what Brian and the rest of the 9Film team do is truly is an inspiration to follow ones¿ dreams,¿ he said.
¿Brian is a true testament to the idea that you can do whatever you put your mind to.¿