The Daddying Film Festival boasts being the world’s first and only film festival focused solely on promoting positive dad involvement for kids and families.
The festival and forum are part of a larger vision held by the Chevy Chase, Maryland -based DADvocacy Consulting Group (DCG) to tell the story dads around the world are yearning to tell, according to founder and director Allan Shedlin.
“A lot of men wish they had greater involvement from their own fathers and are wishing they were more involved in their own children’s lives,” Shedlin shares.
The second annual festival screening, accessible virtually from now through June 11, uses film to put a spotlight on the importance of fathers and provide a space for kids and fathers to reflect on their feelings and the importance of their relationship.
The film fest is paired with a live forum, taking place in New Mexico from June 24 to 25.
Both events are hosted by DCG, which works with fathers to develop programs and curricula, conduct research, offer workshops, hold support groups, conduct training, consult for organizations and serve on father and family-related panels.
And though more than 35 films from dads, students, and indie filmmakers are featured from the United States and beyond, the festival does not lose its local ties.
One of the official selections at this year’s screening is “Evil Dad,” a 3-minute short film by Nathaniel Port, a local father and the owner and operator of Grandma Vera’s Bakery in Rockville, Maryland. Port also sells baked goods and juices at farmers’ markets in Kensington and Bethesda.
Billed as a comedy, his film description reads: “From the depths of his heart he can’t help but be the best dad he can be. But it’s not always seen that way.”
This year’s program also features four local student jurors and VIP judge Margaret Parsons, a film curator who founded the film program at National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., serving for more than 30 years.
Student juror Emma Voyles, 12, judges independent films, which she says are supposed to be between one to seven minutes but can be as long as ten minutes. Most, she says, are three to five minutes long.
“I love it. Some of the videos are hilarious, some of them make you think. There’s a lot of variety,” Emma says.
Films are judged based on the tech used, how much the judges like the story and whether the film changed their perspective on daddying, she says.
The film lineup in 2023 also differs from its inaugural year in a big way.
While 2022’s festival focused on students and indie filmmakers, this year fathers and father figures alike were encouraged to submit their own films—further driving home Shedlin’s vision for films that could nurture father-child relationships.
Shedlin interviewed hundreds of fathers across 20 different countries as part of his research for what was originally going to be a book but is now an idea he feels is more conducive to film.
His plans changed when he saw a film about the son of an architect interviewing the people who commissioned his father to make their buildings.
“I found myself crying,” Shedlin says. “I wished my father had been watching it with me so we could have talked about issues that came up in the movie that would have been difficult to bring up spontaneously, but my father had passed away the year before.”
Movies, Shedlin explains, open doors for difficult, but necessary conversations.
“We’d like to shine a spotlight on the importance of daddying and to move fathers from the role of understudy parent to co-starring parent,” Shedlin says.
In addition to official selections, there are a number of films that are finalists for the Atticus Award, named after the character Atticus Finch, from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” whom Shedlin says is the “finest portrayal of a father figure.”
Viewers must watch at least two films in a category to cast a vote for an Atticus Award Finalist film. To watch the films, visit daddyingfilmfest.com and go to the viewing tab.
To learn more about DCG, visit dadvocacyconsultinggroup.com.