With it being four weeks since the close of one of the most star-studded, mystical, and down right fun festivals since our inception, we wanted to share some of the highlights that we thought were truly amazing! The 2018 Atlanta Film Festival welcomed over 28,000 attendees with open arms, southern charm, and hospitality. We made it our top priority to ensure that all of our attendees felt at home. Speaking of home, on April 12, we showcased what we thought best represented our hometown with two phenomenal shorts blocks, SPRING IN MY HOMETOWN and WALKING DISTANCE.
Welcome to ATLFF '18
April 13, things kicked off with our Opening Night Presentation: BLINDSPOTTING with the writer/actor duo Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. To open the film, Diggs was presented with the inaugural ATLFF Innovator Award for the boisterous and bold choices he made, pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and social commentary.
While here in Atlanta, both Casal and Diggs exclaimed their appreciation for the city and highlighted how they loved the audience's response to the film's overarching theme of identity and gentrification. With Atlanta being one of the countless cities currently undergoing gentrification, this film hit home for many of those in attendance making it the perfect fit for opening night.
Atlanta Film Society Presents ScreenCraft Writers Summit
To kick off the first weekend of ATLFF, we were home to the ScreenCraft Writers Summit! This featured guests such as Mika Pryce (Creative Executive, Universal Pictures), JJ Klein (Vice President, Current Programming for FX Networks), Wendy Calhoun (TV Writer/Showrunner, NASHVILLE, EMPIRE, STATION 19), and many more. Events/panels included Mentor Sit-Downs, the Pitch Competition, tips on writer's rooms, and anything writer-esque. Pictured above is a panel titled "Georgia Development or Bust." Panelists discussed how Atlanta can become a self-sustainable entertainment industry from pre- to post-production. This think-tank session was what Atlanta needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel being shed by LA and New York. Atlanta is already a well-oiled machine in terms of production, but we still need a little extra coal (tax credits/investors) to push us through to the other side.
MAYNARD dropped in for it's Georgia Premiere featuring Maynard III & Wendy Jackson, director Sam Pollard, and the production team. A flood of emotions ran through the crowd as the audience rose for a standing ovation! Maynard Jackson's legacy still lives through the city of Atlanta. There wouldn't have been a(n) Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin, Kasim Reed, or Kiesha Lance Bottoms without Maynard Jackson, thank you. The film later was announced as the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival Audience Award winning feature!
This one is for our Rebel, Jason Reitman, for his daring and off kilter approach to his feature film TULLY. Reitman couldn't shed the smile from his face as he accepted the first ever Rebel Award and went on to mention the how much this film means to him.
Two flights cancelled, a Canadian ice storm, and scheduling conflicts were not enough to stop this Masterclass. We finally got the chance to sit down and catch up with Jason Reitman and let us say, he's in love with Atlanta. The intimate conversation was filled with personal stories of Reitman's past with his father, Ivan Reitman, his struggles as a director, and how he approaches each project. The Masterclass felt no longer than a ten minute conversation with an old friend. The Masterclass came to an end with the audience longing for more from Reitman.
Romany Malco Masterclass
Atlanta didn't welcome Romany Malco, Romany Malco welcomed Atlanta. Romany's gregarious and warm nature filled the Plaza on this Monday afternoon. As he took the stage, the comedian within couldn't be suppressed. His personality is unmatched as he fluidly bounced from his career lull to a conversation about confusing effort with achievement. Malco had many gems of wisdom and life lessons hidden behind his pungent jokes, which kept the audience in tears, but members soon circled back around to the realization of the truth in his words.
Creative Conference is a way to connect with panelists, other festival attendees, while obtaining information to either further a(n) filmmaker's/actor's career or delve into what makes a film, a film. On April 17, Auditions and Casting Calls (SAGIndie) was one of 40 panels of CC (Creative Conference) featuring George Pierre, Jessica Fox, Joy Pervis, and Mystie Buice. Each panelist had their dos and don'ts for actors looking for representation and work in the Atlanta market.
The Psychology of the Lens, the Actor/Director Relationship, Speed Dating Meets Career Day, and a myriad of other panels at CC brought in attendees from all across the globe to share their ideas and engage with panelist working in the industry.
Amber Nash Masterclass
Amber Nash was the perfect close to the 2018 Masterclass series. From a degree in psychology to voicing Pam Poovey on FX’s Emmy Award-winner Archer, Nash was thrilled to share her transition as well as keeping the audience engaged with her whit and charm. Interestingly enough Nash took improv classes at the same venue (Dad's Garage) where her Masterclass took place—cue nostalgia.
HEARTS BEAT LOUD
On April 20, after a quick stop at Majestic Diner for a peach milkshake, Bret Haley and Kiersey Clemons came just in time to premiere HEARTS BEAT LOUD to an eager Atlanta audience. Before the screening, Kiersey Clemons was presented with the Phoenix Award as a symbol of her burgeoning career as she rises up from the ashes into stardom. While on stage Clemons's and Haley's relationship showcased the importance of a relationship between a director and an actor, reminiscent of big brother, little sister. Clemons' performance in the film exhibited an untapped side of the actress that we're glad we were able to experience. We only have one question for you Kiersey, when's the album coming?
Awards Brunch Recap
Best Narrative Feature — WIND TRACES
Narrative Feature - Special Jury Prize — DISAPPEARANCE
Best Documentary Feature — MAN MADE
Documentary Feature — THEY CALL US WARRIORS
Best Narrative Short — FOR NONNA ANNA
Best Documentary Short — ZION
Best Animated Short — FUNDAMENTAL
Filmmaker-to-Watch — Connor Simpson for KUDZU
Georgia Film — STILL
WonderFilm Award presented by WonderRoot — WALLS OF HOPE
Audience Award Feature — MAYNARD
Audience Award Short — COLOR BLIND
Closing Night Presentation: EIGHTH GRADE
Our Closing Night Presentation: EIGHTH GRADE, needless to say was everything we could ask for from a film. Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher kept everything... Gucci. EIGHTH GRADE is Bo Burnham's directorial debut and it is a stark contrast from his previous works, harping on Burnham's refreshing ability to tell a phenomenal story as a filmmaker. The film encompasses Burnham as a whole featuring comedy grounded in reality through the lens of an adolescent girl. Burnham's respect and trust in Elsie Fisher was shown throughout the film as well as on stage as the two shared moments with audience about the origin of the term "Gucci." The two worked as a team to bring EIGHTH GRADE to life.
Day 10, the final day of the Atlanta Film Festival came with victories and a range of heart and emotions. Pictured above are the conclusion to a couple of films; here's director Jimena Montemayor Loyo shortly after receiving her award for Best Narrative Feature for WIND TRACES (left) and the subjects of MAN MADE sharing a moment on stage after being awarded Best Documentary Feature (right).