Atlanta Underground Film Festival (AUFF) touts itself as more than just a traditional film festival. It was founded in 2004 to provide indie filmmakers an outlet to express their creative talent at the grassroots level. AUFF features artists who think outside of the box to create films that thrive outside of mainstream competitions. This film festival provides a platform for the astounding work of local indie filmmakers to be heard. Filmmakers are “from every corner of the earth, with a good mix of local, national, and international films,” says a spokesperson for the festival.
The festival will take place Friday through Sunday and will include over six dozen films. Highly anticipated films include:
Is it filled with love? Is it filled with hate? Is it filled with joy? Is it filled with fear? Is it optimistic? It is all of these things and more as you will see life unfold through the filmmakers featured at this year’s BronzeLens Festival.
There are not many places in the world where you will be able to witness a concerted effort to place the stories that matter most to people of color on the big screen. This weekend, August 25-28 in Atlanta, Georgia will be the exception.
A story about how a rope – something that symbolized so much terror, pain, struggle and even murder in the black communities of yesteryear – acts as a coat of arms that ties one New York family firmly to its past and to the future.
The story of a woman from Lagos who is struggling with the type of woman she was and the one that she has become after being entrapped in the Brazilian sex industry.
Witness the nation’s most successful women of color. . .
Hear the stories of five distinguished women of color – Margaret Avery, Julie Dash, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Nina Yang Bongiovi, and Dawn Gillam – who will be honored during the BronzeLens Women SuperStars Luncheon on August 26, 2016.
This weekend, witness history in the making as BronzeLens celebrates the seventh year of ‘promoting Atlanta as the new film Mecca for people of color.’
On March 23, 2016, WIFTA’s board hosted a meeting on a popular emerging topic in metro Atlanta – Film Festivals. The leading ladies of major film festivals were invited to attend a panel-styled meeting in which Executive Director, Susan Moss asked members of the panel many interesting questions about their respective film festivals. One of the first questions Susan asked was about the particular niche or specialty of each film festival which is noted above. Another thought provoking question that Susan asked was about some of the things that the panel has seen done right or wrong by contestants in the film submission process. Kristy led the discussion with explaining that she loves to see concise cover letters but is turned off by unkempt websites and too much reliance on music in the film itself. Shellie likes to see a good maraketable synopsis and good characterization. Deidre likes to see top notch technical quality and a very compelling story but dislikes time consuming pieces and contestants changing their passwords too frequently, disturbing the judges ability to access the film. Audrey rounded out the discussion by saying that she likes to see a great synopsis and a great title but is disturbed by film submissions that have heavy violence, profanity, or sexuality considering her film festival is faith-based.
Susan engaged the panel with a variety of other pertinent questions about film festivals and then invited the audience to ask questions. Another engaging topic that was raised was about how film contestants could spread the word about their film in order to increase awareness of the film. Some suggestions from the panel included social media presence, radio stations, marketing cards, reaching out to social organizations that may be relevant to the film, and of course old-fashioned footwork – being out in the community speaking and increasing awareness about the film. Some of the film festivals also rely heavily on PR firms to help get the word out about films and the festival. The final major question of the evening involved the panel pondering the ways in which they are targeting women to be involved in film production – after all WIFTA is a film organization for women. Kristy mentioned that the Atlanta Film Festival has its New Maverick’s segment in which there is a focus on film with female leads. Deidre mentioned that there is a luncheon held during the BronzeLens festival that focuses on women in the film business. Shellie mentioned that 7 women directed films were included in this year’s festival but that they don’t yet have an infrastructure in place specifically for women. Audrey also mentioned that they do not yet have an infrastructure in place for women but talks are in progress on how to place a greater emphasis on women during upcoming festivals.
In Addition to Film Festival Discussions. . .
WIFTA plans to roll out its training workshops designed for actors, writers, and producers, soon. Victoria Smith – Actress, Teacher, and Coach – also led a brief discussion about the acting workshops which are set to launch sometime in April 2016. Victoria, who is currently pursuing her M.F.A., claims that her fascination with film and acting began when she was five but she abandoned her first love when her grandmother encouraged her to pursue a much more realistic profession. She took her grandmother’s advice and received a teaching degree but now will combine her practical teaching experience with her passion – acting – in order to improve home-grown talent pools of actors and actresses to be able to acquire local acting jobs on big film productions. Some of the workshop will include scene study, cold reads, improv, monologues and a variety of other acting techniques and topics. A few guest are also expected stop by and assist with instruction. Be sure to check the WIFTA site regularly for times and dates of the upcoming workshops.
Are you going to SXSW? Are you going to SXSW? ARE YOU GOING TO SXSW! If you are in the film or entertainment business, chances are you have been asked this question or you are asking others this question. There is an ‘organized pandemonium’ brewing here in Atlanta’s film and entertainment community and excitement levels everywhere are off the charts here and across the nation.
So, just what is SXSW and why is everyone so excited about this event? It’s one thing to go to their site and discover an answer by observing the intriguing photos and videos streaming across the page; but, I thought it would be far more fascinating to hear from one of the film representatives of the SXSW festival about what this event is and what it means, particularly for those in the film industry. This week Jody Arlington, Film Press and Publicity Manager for SXSW, shares with Reel Focus readers more about this exciting event coming up in March in Austin, Texas.
Can you begin by telling us first what this festival represents generally to the entertainment community and the economy and then delve into the specifics of what this festival means to the film community.
SXSW is the premier destination to discover game-changing new technologies, films and artists while networking with some of the brightest minds. SXSW is known for showcasing the most innovative ideas and creative talent of our time.
SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals is celebrating its 30th year — and 23rd year for Film and Interactive. This year, we’ve made more sessions and screenings open to more badge types than ever before to bring together even more creatives from all walks of life and industries.
As to the economy, our overall operation directly and indirectly contributes millions of dollars to Austin’s economy.
But back to SXSW Film and what the festival provides for the film community: over nine days we screen 253 films, in 12 venues across Austin. The Feature program has 89 World, 12 North American, and 8 U.S. premieres. In our Film Conference, we have more than 200+ Film Sessions (Keynotes, Conversations, Panels, workshops, Networking Meetups and Mentors) we’ve organized them into tracks to make it easy for the filmmaking community to navigate: Influencers; Creating Your Content; Finding Your Audience; and What’s Next. Plus the additional 450+ Convergence sessions open to more than one badge.
As if we could be any more excited than we already are – give us Atlantans some exciting reasons for attending this event this year.
On the screening front, there is a lot of anticipation for our opening night film Everybody Wants Some; and also for Midnight Special, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, Demolition, Beware The Slenderman, Tony Robbins: I am Not Your Guru, Don’t Think Twice, and The Bandit with Burt Reynolds himself in attendance. We were among the first to start premiering episodic programming and are excited to present Outcast, Preacher; Vice Principals, You Me Her, and Search Party.
I’m sure you have heard about Georgia’s film tax credits and various incentives to promote film here. Tell us more about the film community in Austin and what is being done to grow film there.
Too few cities and states appreciate the economic and cultural contributions of the film community.. Austin, TX has a deeply seeded film culture with the Austin Film Society, Texas Film Commission and our many passionate advocates and practitioners in all walks of life.
Are there any final remarks that you would like to add about this year’s event.
I invite everyone to go to SXSW.com and check out our schedule–many top talent will be in attendance with their films. Also, don’t forget to view the SXSW Youtube page.
It’s that time of the year again when stars are born and dreams are turned into reality. I’m referring to movie-making magic at its finest brought to you by one of the best film festivals in the world: Atlanta Film Festival. Ok, I am being a little braggadocios but I’m excited about this film festival and here to get you equally excited about it is Cameron McAllister, Marketing Director for the Atlanta Film Festival.
Thank you Cameron for joining us on the Reel Focus blog. Tell our readers what makes the Atlanta Film Festival a distinctive film festival compared to some really great ones taking place across the nation and worldwide.
The Atlanta Film Festival is a cultural institution for the city. We are one of America’s oldest film festivals and only two-dozen other US festivals are Academy-Award qualifying. But I think our biggest asset is the experience we offer. First of all, Atlanta in the spring is a beautiful place. We bring in filmmakers from across the globe and show them the best of what our city and our industry has to offer. We don’t want to put on airs, but be real with people and showcase the character that this city possesses. Not just for filmmakers, but for our members and patrons, we offer year-round programming through film screenings, educational opportunities, parties, and partnerships with local businesses, artists and organizations that share our goal of enriching Atlanta.
Can you name some famous film professionals who got their start right here with the Atlanta Film Festival?
Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Ray McKninnon, James Ponsoldt, David Gordon Green all showed their first works at our festival and have gone on to be paramounts in the directing community.
With all the growth in film taking place statewide, have you seen an enormous amount of growth with the Atlanta film industry as a result?
Absolutely! It’s not just the big Hollywood productions that are aplenty, Georgia’s indie film scene is booming too. One sign of that is that we have 12 Georgia-tied features and 17 Georgia-tied shorts. We’ve never had that high a number of local films in our program and we are so excited about every single one.
As the industry grows here, what does AFF have in store for expansion?
Just as Atlanta grows in the industry, we’ve seen growth for our festival too. It isn’t just the number of local films that are submitted, it is also the local interest. People get excited when they encounter film productions on their street or in their neighborhood. That fuels a desire to get involved, and what better place to do so than the Atlanta Film Festival? We are almost 40-years-old (next year!) and I can’t think of a better time to celebrate a big birthday than with the film boom happening right as it is. We’ve reached out to studios and they’ve reached out to us… we can’t reveal our plans just yet… but I can assure you that they are exciting!
Why should people come out to this year’s film festival and what is in store for the general public?
Off the top of my head, there are a few reasons that people should come out… 1. Because they love Atlanta. 2. Because they love movies. 3. Because they love BOTH! Seriously, there are a myriad of great films, television programs, events, parties, movie stars, musical performances and other great things people can expect from this year, but our goal is to use all of these things to enrich our community and give our city a valuable resource. Not to mention, there are nearly 30 productions with Georgia ties in our lineup this year, so you will be supporting the local industry as well!
The Atlanta Jewish Festival is approximately 14 days away and in order to build excitement for this event and to provide information about what this event is about, I have teamed up with Kenny Blank, Executive Director of the Atlanta Jewish Festival, to tell us more about the event. Kenny Blank is no stranger to Atlanta, having served as the Executive Director for NBC’s affiliate WXIA-TV and providing us with the popular show “11 Alive News Today.” He has received an Emmy for his news coverage and he is most notable in this region for his coverage of Atlanta’s Olympic games, while working for WSAV-TV, the NBC Affiliate in Savannah.
Thank you Kenny for your contributions to serving Georgia as a broadcast journalist and your current contributions as the Executive Director of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Tell us about the history of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and what we can expect in 2015?
The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival began in 2000 as a program of American Jewish Committee’s Atlanta regional office. Its mission was to build bridges in the community through the medium of film. The festival’s growth has turned it into something much bigger than it was in the beginning, and so after fourteen years, AJC and AJFF mutually agreed to spin-off the festival into a separate and independent 501(c)3 non-profit. This process was completed in the summer of last year.
In 2015, festivalgoers can expect 65 films (50 features and 15 shorts) from 26 countries. These films touch upon a range of topics, and many of them will include moderated post-film discussions with filmmakers, scholars, journalists, and other experts. We’ll also be hosting our second annual Art Party, presented with Creative Loafing, at The Mammal Gallery. Opening Night will return to the Cobb Energy Centre on January 28, and Closing Night will return to the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Auditorium on February 19.
With more screenings than ever before, we’re excited about what will be our largest film festival ever. As the largest film festival in Atlanta (and the second largest Jewish film festival in the world), we feel it’s important to maintain our growth to continue meeting audience demand. We’re also including special encore screenings on the last day of the festival. Select sold out films will be programmed, giving audiences one last chance to see these films. The lineup will be announced shortly after the festival begins.
Is this festival limited to topics of relevance to Jewish people; or do you feel the festival will appeal to a variety of people from varying backgrounds?
All the films that we program have some connection to the Jewish experience or life in Israel, however part of our mission is to foster discussion between communities. As such, many of our films pay special attention to the intersection of Jewish life and the non-Jewish world, and we’re very proud that fully a quarter of our audience is not Jewish. This is a Jewish film festival, to be sure, but it really is a showcase of the best independent and foreign films, and audiences of all kinds will find something to enjoy over the 23-days of programming.
An undeniable part of Jewish history is World War II and the Holocaust. And while this may seem like an obvious topic to some, the history of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival speaks much more to the Jewish experience and life in Israel. What percentage of films submitted, still emphasize the Holocaust? And what other topics are explored?
We evaluate approximately 500 films for each festival, and we make a point of emphasizing films that don’t fit the expectation of Holocaust or Israeli cinema. Indeed, of the 65 films at this year’s festival, only eight touch on the Holocaust. In fact, because we have a strong supply of Holocaust-themed films to choose from, we get to be extra selective on that subject.
Other topics that will be explored at the 2015 AJFF include Muslim-Jewish and Christian-Jewish relationships, including an epic period piece, The Physician, following a Christian in the Middle Ages who travels to Muslim Persia, disguising himself as a Jew. We also explore issues around disabilities, the experience of soldiers during wartime and when they come home, and generational divides on topics social and political. It’s an incredibly diverse lineup, and we go out of our way to make it that way.
Most film festivals are held at various locations throughout the host city. Tell us where the festival will be held throughout the city of Atlanta and what can one expect opening night.
AJFF will be at eight venues around the metropolitan Atlanta area. Our opening night venue is the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. For Closing Night, we will be at the Woodruff Arts Center in the Rich Auditorium. Throughout the festival we will be at the Lefont Sandy Springs, UA Tara Cinemas, Regal Atlantic Station, GTC Merchants Walk, and the newest venue, Regal’s Avalon theater. For our Art Party presented with Creative Loafing, we will be at The Mammal Gallery in downtown Atlanta.
Our opening night celebrations are two-part. We have a Red Carpet VIP Gala where attendees will “Paint the Town Red” with food tastings by local and Israeli celebrity chefs, an open bar, and live entertainment. At 7:30 PM, we will screen our opening night film Above and Beyond. This film is about a ragtag band of volunteer airmen who mobilize in the skies above Israel to fight for the fledgling nation’s survival, turning the tide of Israel’s War of Independence, and laying the foundation for its Air Force.
Lights, cameras, Hollywood South! The stage is set for the Peachtree Village International Film Festival (PVIFF). In its ninth year, the festival brings with it film screenings, workshops, celebrity panels and lots more.
Entrepreneur Deborah Fuller, a PVIFF board member, tells us all about this exciting event taking place Sept. 25 – 28, 2014, in Midtown Atlanta.
What sets PVIFF apart from other festivals?
We’ve been around for 9 years. We’re proud to say we’ve had an actual impact on individuals who have come through the doors with some of their initial films and now they’re Hollywood stars.
That’s great! Like who?
One great example is Chadwick Bozeman, the actor that portrayed James Brown in Get On Up. He was a festival participant and even won once. Also, Brad James and Kiki Haynes of Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse. They utilized the festival to cultivate their brand and build themselves up to the next level and now they are stars.
What other celebrities can we expect to see?
We’ll have veteran stars like actress Lynn Whitfield whose film is screening Friday night. And stars from New Hollywood, like Essence Atkins and Kiki Haynes who is getting the rising star award.
What do you hope festival goers take away from the festival?
Festival offerings are designed to feed into whatever the artist’s vision is. When you come to the festival, it’s not just about the party. For me, it’s about business. You want to enjoy the films, and you want to network and hobnob with the stars on the red carpet. But, you also need to figure out how this event can help enhance your vision, your goal, and your purpose in this industry.
Why is that important?
It’s about more than just acting and writing. If you’re a filmmaker, we want to give you some tools and nuggets to help you take your vision to the next level. We want participants to know how to take their talents from the screen to the board room.
Is it true that Ambassador Andrew Young is being honored?
Not many people in the younger generation know about James Brown’s impact on the civil rights movement. He actually funded a lot of the things Dr. King and others did during those times. With that being said, the first ever James Brown Humanitarian Award will be given to Ambassador Young because he’s an international ambassador for the rights of all people. Even in his 80s, he’s still traveling around the world campaigning for the rights of others.
Tell us about the international component of the festival
We have artists coming from all over the world some are from Australia. For the first time, we have partnered with a Latin Ambassador. Grammy winning Latin artist Obie Bermudez will host the first PVIFF Latin/American Black & White themed party.
Brazil – land of many exotic treasures – is home to some of the most diversity concentrated in one area of the world. There are many beauties to behold within its art, ecological environment, and its people. Brazil’s own people know of this beauty and they share it with the rest of the world through film. There are many Brazilian film festivals that take place throughout the world but I will focus on the one taking place in Los Angeles, California. For this blog, I have collaborated with Lucas Paz, Publicist Manager of the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival and Nazareno Paulo, Co-founder of LABRFF, to tell us more about this exciting event taking place September 14-19, 2014.
There are several Brazilian Film Festivals throughout the world but I can imagine that the Los Angeles one has to be an exciting one because of its great weather and because it’s an awesome city. Tell us other reasons why people should visit the Brazilian Film Festival in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival is dedicated to the film industry, and is made for professionals who want to learn more about Brazil. The LABRFF Film Market is also a two-day event during the week of the festival that aims an audience willing to do business in coproduction with Brazilian producers. People come to participate in this unique experience and have a different kind of emotion they do not find anywhere else. From the Opening Night Gala at the Lindwood Dunn Theatre, in Hollywood where a red carpet event takes place with dozens of Brazilian talents and artists that just flew from Brazil to get involved in the festival, it is an historic accomplishment that every film lover would like to participate.
Can non-Brazilian Americans and others from around the world get involved in this film festival? How do you submit material?
NP & LP: Yes. People from different nationalities are very well welcomed to participate in the film festival events, also Americans will have an opportunity to pitch their film projects for a selected committee of industry professionals on our brand new 2-day “Film Market”. Film submissions window for films and film projects are closed already but will reopen by April 2015; just visit the festival’s website: labrff.com
Tantalize our taste buds by telling our readers what they can expect from this year’s festival.
NP & LP: This is going to be the most exciting edition of the film festival. Films will be screened during six days in three different venues in the city, with the best selection of Brazil’s recent production divided in 4 categories: narrative, documentaries, shorts, special screenings. Over sixty people – from producers, artists to great Brazilian talents such as the Conductor João Carlos Martins – will show up to the festival and run the red carpet. We would like to say many thanks to all of LABRFF’s supporters. Become a LABRFF MEMBER today and enjoy exclusive events throughout the year: http://www.labrff.com/index.php/support-us/membership/
Dubai is drawing attention for its jaw-dropping architecture that is the envy of the modern world. But this is not the only thing that is bringing attention to this region. Dubai is also making waves in the world of film. For those who are up-and-coming in the filmmaking industry, this nation has some phenomenal opportunities in store for you. For this blog, I am collaborating with – Alison Wilcox, Head of Communications for the Dubai Film Festival – to tell us more about this year’s film festival and the 2020 expo in Dubai.
Thank you for this wonderful experience. Dubai is certainly on the world’s stage for so many reasons. But what is drawing interest in film-making in Dubai?
Strategically located between the East and the West, Dubai is developing as a global production destination thanks to its world-class infrastructure, state-of-the-art facilities, diverse locations and rich pool of talent. The Emirate also offers a simplified filming approval process and incentives that reduce costs through arrangements with industry partners, fee rebates, and negotiations with service providers.Filmmakers are becoming increasingly aware that Dubai has the capabilities to support major productions, with blockbusters such as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Happy New Year having been filmed in the Emirate in recent years.
Being a woman myself, I must ask about the success of women in film in this region.
The visibility of Arab female directors on the world stage has grown over the past few years. The results speak for themselves: Lebanese director Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now was the highest grossing Arab film ever, and Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour’s feature Wadjda was the Kingdom’s first entry for the foreign language Oscar and was also nominated for a BAFTA.
We have been observing a similar dynamic at DIFF. There were a total of 56 of films directed by women in DIFF’s 10th edition, which is over double the number of films by women that participated in 2012. DIFF’s annual Muhr awards, which honour Arab, Emirati and Asian and African filmmakers, have also witnessed a surge in female winners. In 2011, Habibi, directed by Susan Youssef, won Best Film in the Muhr Arab Feature category, whilst in 2012, Wadjda, which was supported by DIFF’s post-production programme, Enjaaz, scooped the Best Feature Film prize.
Tell me more about what to expect at this year’s film festival.
The 11th edition will roll out the red carpet to showcase the best of cinema from around the world, celebrate the richness of Arab cinema and further introduce audiences to fresh new talent and original, intelligent and distinctive filmmaking.
Tell me more about this 2020 Expo and why film professionals from around the world need to be at this expo.
Expo 2010, which transformed Shanghai into a global commercial center, is a great example of the impact the exposition can have on the host city. Similar to what the Expo has helped achieve in Shanghai, we are certain that Expo 2020 will act as a powerful catalyst for Dubai’s economic, social and cultural growth.
Expected to attract millions of visitors, the Expo will also play a crucial role in strengthening Dubai’s role as a worldwide tourism and trade hub and create international exposure for the Emirate.
Film is big business and when I say big, I mean – big! It is no longer confined to studios concentrated in southern California. Film is everywhere – and literally in Georgia we will soon be walking out of our doors right into a whole lot of action. Speaking of action, I have teamed up with Lance Robertson, one of the founders of the Georgia Latino film festival, to tell us more about the action he is igniting with his new organization right here in metro Atlanta.
Thank you Lance for this opportunity. It’s great to see much more diversity in our great town with the infusion of your film festival. Tell our readers how the Georgia Latino Film Festival in Atlanta began.
I along with co-founder Jose Marquez created the Georgia Latino Film Festival in 2012. Our festival has been successful for two consecutive years and this year will be our third year – which we are really excited about. One of my roles in this industry is producing documentaries. I developed my first one straight out of college in 1994 which showcased the election of President Nelson Mandela. I also did another documentary which was one of the last documentaries on the late Reverend Hosea Williams entitled “Un-bought and Un-bossed: A Conversation with Hosea Williams.” My co-founder’s claim to fame was his creation of OVN Latino Network. Jose Marquez, of Cuban descent, and myself, of African American descent, put our minds together to create a platform for African Americans and Latinos to come together in the name of Film and Television; hence, the festival was born.
How do you feel about the inclusion (or exclusion) of Latino Americans from mainstream Hollywood?
First, let me say nobody can stop a movement whose time has come. The empirical data shows Hispanic are the single-most dedicated moviegoer. With the consistent growth of the Hispanic consumer market, if Hollywood doesn’t start catering to the Latino market share, it will be losing – and losing big. I trust that the independent Latino filmmakers in front and behind the scenes will breakthrough and probably be more successful at catering to this general market.
What do you and Jose hope to accomplish with this festival?
Melisha, I can sum that up by providing you with three key things about our organization: our purpose, our mission, and our vision.
The purpose of this non-profit organization is to conduct an annual film festival in the state of Georgia that features Latino produced films among other national and international entries.
The mission of the Georgia Latino Film Festival is to build awareness of independent films and film as an art form; provide educational opportunities for students and Georgia Latino filmmakers; and create opportunities for the Georgia communities to experience high-quality Latino films.
To make sure that our stories are being told in Hollywood and around the world and that our community has a place in Georgia where Latino film executives, directors, and artists at the forefront of the Latino Film and animation industry can come together to discuss the future of our industry and create a vehicle to develop the next generation of Georgia Latino film-makers.
As we approach our third year we expect to continue on our diverse growth trajectory of inclusion with all different cultures inside or under the Hispanic/Latino umbrella. We also would like to use our platform to expand our inclusion within mainstream film and movie production companies. Our goal this year is to unite the best and the brightest and most ambitious young and seasoned Hispanic and Latinos in the film industry in Atlanta under this dynamic form of expression that we love. Our long-term goal is constant growth and we invite everyone to be a part of this mission.