What to see at the 2013 Macon Film Festival

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The first leg of Georgia’s film festival circuit is about to kick off with the always robust Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. But after the AJFF begins and before it ends, another Georgia gem will take place. The 8th annual Macon Film Festival (MaGa) will run from February 14th through the 17th, just three weeks away! I saw some good films, met some fun people, ate some delicious food and took many great walks around town last February and look forward to getting to do it all over again this year.

The Macon Film Festival is similar to the Rome International Film Festival (RIFF) in both age and size, although I can see the big dreams and ambitions of the MaGa board propelling the fest into the reach of a broader audience within the next few years. This year, several documentaries and features look promising and the festival always offers a wide variety of short films worth looking into. The special gala presentations (one each night) are still being announced, but they usually bring one or two stars into town. Last year, veteran character actress Beth Grant (“The Artist,” “Donnie Darko,” “No Country for Old Men”) and Macon native Carrie Preston (“Duplicity,” “That’s What She Said,” “True Blood”) showcased some of their work.

After the jump, I’ve highlighted several films worth checking out. A few films have played at other festivals, including both RIFF and the Atlanta Film Festival, while others are fresh out of the editing room.

AKA Blondie
The biggest hit from the 2012 Atlanta Film Festival, “AKA Blondie” chronicles a true Atlanta celebrity– Blondie Strange, the infamous Clermont Lounge vixen. From childhood through her days of drug use and prostitution, this film is a complete profile.

Code of the West
Certainly a very timely film; “Code of the West” follows Montana lawmakers as they debate whether or not to repeal their medical marijuana legislation, after being one of the first to pass such laws originally.

How We Got Away With It
One of the most intriguing narratives from this year’s lineup, Jon Lindstrom’s ensemble mystery “How We Got Away With It” follows a group of friends on their annual beach vacation and how they react to a sudden, unexpected tragedy.
The Man Who Ate New Orleans
Michael Dunaway’s portrait of post-Katrina New Orleans is centered around one man’s quest to eat his way through the entire city. Watch Reverend Ray Cannata put Anthony Bourdain to shame as he dines at over 700 restaurants and 500 homes in this documentary.

Miss Dial
The pretty faces of Robinne Lee and Sam Jaeger are front in center in “Miss Dial,” a romantic comedy that will have its world premiere at the Macon Film Festival. Gabrielle Union, Beth Grant, Dulé Hill, Sara Rue and Ahna O’Reilly appear in supporting roles.

Sal
Diego Rougier’s clever Chilean western “Sal” played at the 2012 Atlanta Film Festival, where I credited it as the festival’s most undervalued film. A tribute to the old Leone spaghetti westerns, “Sal” makes the most of its beautiful Atacama setting. Read my review.
Shoot the Moon
The only short film from this year’s lineup that I’m showcasing here, “Shoot the Moon” is a rich and devastating look at a family torn apart by the economic downturn and perpetuated by a mother’s inaction. This was one of the best shorts from the 2012 Rome International Film Festival. Read my review.
Six Million and One
Nominated for an Ophir Award for Best Documentary, “Six Million and One” follows filmmaker David Fisher and his siblings as they examine the memoir of their late father, a Holocaust survivor.
The Suicide Kid
Told entirely through video blogs, “The Suicide Kid” tells the story of a college freshman after his botched suicide attempt becomes a viral video sensation.

Tchoupitoulas
“The Man Who Ate New Orleans” isn’t the only Big Easy documentary at the Macon Film Festival this year. “Tchoupitoulas” has been making the festival rounds for a year, earning high marks everywhere it goes. Watch as three young brothers explore the sights and sounds of the New Orleans late night scene.

Also– “Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton,” “Death by China,””Death of a Cemetery” and “Hated” all warrant a mention. See the full schedule and get tickets at www.maconfilmfestival.com.

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