Atlanta Film Festival

The 2012 Atlanta Film Festival rolled out the red carpet for its premiere film, “L!fe Happens,” in what promises to be a long list of quality screenings lined up for movie goers.

Atlanta Film Festival 365 was the title of this year’s festival, showing the public that there’s more than just two weeks’ worth of films that can be taken away from the programming this year.

“We’re not only a film festival, but we’re a media arts organization that’s been around for 36 years. So we do a lot of education, we do programming, we do workshops, we partner with other events throughout the year,” Charles Judson, Head of Programming and Industry Outreach for the Atlanta Film Festival, said. “We started with the mission of helping filmmakers originally, to help with equipment, help with training, and we’re just continuing that mission in new ways, almost four decades later.”

One of the ways in which the festival has grown is the heavy incorporation of music into the programming, including live performances after the shows and strong musical elements in some of the films.

And although their mission has grown beyond just screening movies, the Atlanta Film Festival has still made progress in the terms of its films, with more than 2,200 submissions and nearly 220 films being programmed this year, according to Chris Escobar, Executive Director for the Atlanta Film Festival.

Even with the progress made in this year’s festival, there are no signs of slowing down in making next year’s Atlanta Film Festival even better.

“We always have room to improve, but the one place I feel that we’ve always been consistent in is the range of great programming we’ve had,” Judson said. “That’s one reason we’ve been around so long is because we’re known for the quality of film and programming.”

The film screened on opening night, “Life Happens,” showcased the originality of the films submitted, as three women who live together struggle with their careers and intimacy, while collectively raising a baby. Traditional gender roles were challenged in the film, one of the qualities of the independent film that Kat Coiro, director and co-writer with Krysten Ritter, had specifically intended.

Coiro also shared her knowledge of the filmmaking process with the audience after the film premiered, telling how she managed to get the film funded, the effort put into shooting the film in 17 days and the challenges that she faced with production.

Like most film festivals, the main benefit is the ability to see documentaries and films not commercialized yet. The types of films range from narrative features and partner series to documentary features.

“This year we have more film programs than probably ever before that were all local,” Judson said. “A lot of that is reflected because people…can work on [their] passion project and other stuff as well.”

That local quality and diversity is what makes these films more relatable and their artistry appreciated. Those involved in the festival’s production use the festival as a way to educate viewers about society.

Judson remembers being particularly excited about showing a documentary named “Roadmap to Apartheid.” He stated that most coverage of this issue does not go into depth about the matter but that this documentary did.

“They don’t really go into depth about what it means,” Judson said. “The film makers are definitely doing a good job of being evenhanded.”

Viewers witnessed this at the festival’s ‘home-base’ theater, Landmark Midtown, on the second day of the festival. This film focuses on the apartheid struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Directors Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson discussed the conflict in certain areas like the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The film also focuses on the similarities and differences between the Israeli-Palestinian apartheid conflict and the apartheid conflict that took place in South Africa.

This socially-conscious film is a part of what represents the importance of the film festival to the city of Atlanta.
“One thing I’m always interested in is finding stories that people haven’t heard of before and always finding people who are not represented and really trying to bring those to the forefront and give people insight into different people, different cultures and different types of stories,” Judson said.

Published March 27, 2012 in The Signal: “Atlanta Film Festival

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