If the line-up for IFC Center’s inaugural Split Screen Festival seems like a television-lover’s dream come true, it’s because the event’s programmer, acclaimed author and critic Matt Zoller Seitz, was driven by his passion for the medium.
“This festival is really for fans, and I’m a fan,” Seitz tells amNewYork. “Every one of the shows that’s represented and every actor who is spotlighted at this festival is someone I think is great.”
While film festivals are a dime a dozen, fests dedicated to the small screen are pretty rare. “Most television festivals are organized around the idea of an academic conference or a promotional event, and this one is not like that,” Seitz explains. “We are almost entirely focused on the craft and art of television. We are mostly interested in what is happening on screen — the writing, the direction, the nature of the sound, and the production design.” Each panel, screening and interview at Split Screen is dedicated to what Seitz calls “the granular” aspects of television, like diving into how production designers create entirely alternative universes, or analyzing each moment of one particularly memorable episode. Think of this festival as your opportunity to take that water cooler chat to the next level with a true insider’s look into how television gets made.
The shows represented include critical darlings, like “Better Call Saul” and “The Girlfriend Experience,” and cult favorites, like “Orphan Black” and “Mr. Robot.”
Seitz also cites another commonality: his fancy. “This is a festival dedicated to TV shows and actors, writers, and showrunners that I won’t shut up about.”
But he’s not shying away from the spotlight, adding, “I’m getting a huge kick out of the fact that as a kid I was constantly being chastised for watching too much television and now here I am programming a festival on nothing but.”
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The Split Screen Festival runs June 2 to June 8 at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, with individual tickets going for $12-$19 (except where noted otherwise). A festival pass is $125. For the full schedule go to splitscreensfestival.com.