By Cameron McAllister
The 12th annual Macon Film Festival—middle Georgia’s largest celebration of cinema—takes place throughout downtown Macon from Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23. While more information is still forthcoming on Opening Night, special guests/presentations and festival workshops, we’ve got the complete lineup of official selections.
At least 16 feature films and dozens of short films are featured, highlighting Macon’s emphasis on Southern storytellers and music. These focuses are a perfect fit for a city like Macon, which has a rich musical history. Last week, much of the city came together for the funeral of Southern rock-legend Gregg Allman, who was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery.
Check out the film lineup below. View the complete schedule here.
BRAVE NEW JERSEY
directed by Jody Lambert
Brave New Jersey is a comedy about a small town on the night of Orson Welles’ legendary 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast – the hoax that terrified millions into believing Martians were invading America. As the citizens of one New Jersey town are faced with what they believe is their last night on Earth, their lives will change forever. An alien invasion movie where the aliens never show up.
directed by Nathaniel Atcheson
After a deadly virus wipes out most of humanity, the survivors are forced to wait alone in self-sustaining bunkers while the viral threat runs its course. Able to communicate through a networked video interface, the survivors wait for years and slowly become a motley family of sorts. But their fragile social ecosystem is shattered when, one by one, they start mysteriously disappearing from their bunkers.
directed by Russell Brown
Sanity and relationships are put to the test when mysterious circumstances force a family to survive the annual American Thanksgiving holiday without their cell phones.
6 LOVE STORIES
directed by Michael Dunaway
Over the course of one afternoon, in six different parts of LA, six couples connect, reconnect, or fall apart. Love Actually meets Magnolia.
directed by Sonny Marler
Grady Lee Jr. is a recluse farmer, discovers his late father’s hidden journal that contains the research and plans to an electro-magnetic machine with technology derived from the lost research of Nikola Tesla. He believes this discovery could change the world. His work is interrupted when his step-sister dies and leaves him custodian of his nephew.
SOUTHERN – GEORGIA MADE FILMS
BORN RIVER BYE
directed by Tim Hall
A disillusioned songwriter and a restless receptionist confront their regrets over an Autumn weekend in Macon, Georgia.
FORTY MILES TO MACON (short)
directed by Daniel Espeut
Tyler Goforth’s “Forty Miles to Macon” is to Macon, Georgia as Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” is to Muskogee, Oklahoma. This true story of Tyler’s visit to his ancestors is a reminder to us all to seek out our heritage and make every attempt to understand our history.
directed by Tamlin Hall
No longer your average boy-next-door, Holden Layfield weaves audiences through his harrowing tale in this film set in the early 1990s. After succumbing to a secret battle with mental illness, Holden evolves from a beloved, small town Georgia football player to a lost, self-medicating prophet.
Georgia Short Stories (98 minutes)
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND BEATING HEARTS
directed by Peter Byck
A pioneering farmer in rural Georgia shares his journey from industrialized beef production to sustainable, humane agricultural and environmental stewardship.
directed by Lauren Knapp
A doctor walks the line of his morality as he participates in executions, while personally opposing capital punishment.
directed by James Kicklighter
In the midst of a publishing revolution, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of America’s most storied institutions of journalism, is experimenting with new tools to tell stories in preparation for the end of print in the digital era.
LONNIE HOLLEY: THE TRUTH OF THE DIRT
directed by Marco Williams
Filmed in the South with minimal interviews, Lonnie Holley: The Truth of the Dirt is a portrait of a man who sees beauty in what others step on, step over, and leave behind. It is a portrait of an artist who creates art of objects and materials infused with history and memory.
BACKPACK FULL OF CASH
directed by Sarah Mondale
Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, it takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of education “reform” where public education – starved of resources- hangs in the balance.
THE BULLISH FARMER
directed by Ken Marsolais
Over a decade ago, John Ubaldo, aka “John Boy,” a successful Wall Street investment banker decided to call it quits. Distraught over the loss of his best friend in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, John traded in his high finance career for 185 acres of land on the Battenkill River in Cambridge, NY, to live a quiet life as a small farmer.
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US
directed by Brian Storm
Nick, 35, has cerebral palsy and lives with his parents. His twin brother Chris has always felt guilty about the daily struggles Nick goes through, which he doesn’t. As an opportunity finally arises for Nick to move out on his own, he and Chris decide to share their story.
EYE CAMERA (short)
directed by Brittney Shepherd
After losing her left eye in a car accident, artist Tanya Vlach attempts to make herself whole again by trying to build a camera that fits inside her prosthetic eye.
FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL
directed by Jamie Sisley & Miguel “M.I.G” Martinez
Farewell Ferris Wheel explores how the U.S. Carnival industry fights to keep itself alive by legally employing Mexican migrant workers with a controversial work visa.
MATTHEW’S GIFT (short)
directed by Jon Watts
‘Matthew’s Gift’ is a short documentary that follows photographer Oana Hogrefe as she dedicates her one day a year taking ‘remembrance photos’ of a child nearing the end of life.
THE OTHER SIDE (short)
directed by Griselda San Martin
The Other Side is the story of deported musician Jose Marquez and his daughter Susanna who have been separated for almost 15 years but meet every month on either side of the US-Mexico border wall.
RESISTANCE IS LIFE
directed by Apo W. Bazidi
Evlin is an 8-year-old girl who escaped with her family from her their village in Kobane, Syria in September 2014, fleeing the terror of the militant Islamic State (ISIS). Now she lives in an overcrowded refugee camp on the edge of the Turkish-Syrian border, so close that you can still hear the explosions. Evlin joins the adults who sing and chant on the border, watching smoke rising up from their beloved Kobane.
Made in Georgia – Shorts (70 minutes)
directed by Luke Pilgrim & Brad Kennedy
In a picturesque suburb, an imaginative boy attempts to convince his mother that their peculiar neighbor is a robot.
THE THIEVES OF ALMIRA
directed by Andrew Lee
Quincy is up to bat in the game that her and her two friends created to spark excitement in a dull suburb: sneak into a house and steal an object chosen at random. Upon entering the home, she is caught by the old, Korean homeowner who mistakes Quincy for her own granddaughter.
directed by Brantly Jackson Watts
Set in the deep south, Birdie marks the first anniversary of leaving her abusive lover, Donnie, with a ceremonial candle on a cake. One by one, her fellow survivors leave for the night, and Birdie is left to mourn the love she left behind with her abuser. As the evening unfurls, Birdie will be confronted by more than an aching heart in this Southern Gothic thriller.
directed by Fray Forde & Catherine Dee Holly
A conditioner bottle spawns what appears to be argument of the day for couple Frankie and Khi. Good Hair explores a millennial long-term relationship and the split ends along the way.
The Nature of Relationships (105 minutes)
directed by Mike Hayhurst
In a world full of pears, what can you find to fill your pit? A story about longing, love, and finding your other half…
THE DRIVING SEAT
directed by Phil Lowe
One Saturday morning, a middle aged couple decide to make love in their car in the driveway to put a spark back in their marriage – only to find it has rather the opposite effect..
directed by Ines Pintor Sierra & Pablo Santidrian
Ainhoa and Yon meet in a deserted beach and a summer love will grew between them. A summer love they do not want to forget once autumn comes and they return home by their own. To keep the memories of their story alive, Ainhoa and Yon decide to send each other a postcard for a whole year.
MY NEPHEW EMMETT
directed by Kevin Wilson, Jr.
In 1955, A 64 year old African American Mississippi preacher tries to keep two racist killers from abducting his 14 year-old nephew, Emmett Louis Till. Based on a true story.
directed by Annika Pampel
1974, a young East-German couple is desperate to leave their restricted, communist lives behind and attempts to escape into the West on a hand-made boat across the Baltic Sea.
directed by Fredric Lehne
Two strangers bring the laughs as they confront and resolve one of the most insidious scourges afflicting mankind – while standing at public urinals with their willies out.
directed by Konstantin Fam
German shepherd named Brutus got into concentration camp and turned from a harmless pet into a killer.
Things Aren’t Always What they Seem (85 minutes)
directed by Yohann Charrin
Safia Bentoumi, a young 25 years old police woman, has her dream come true and join the prestigious 36 quai des Orfèvres in Paris, after 5 years of service at the Clichy sous Bois police station. On her first day of service and by a curious coincidence, she happens to be confronted with a dangerous guy who rudely put her to the test.
CUL DE SAC
directed by Damon Russell
Parents living at the end of a quiet Cul-De-Sac discover a listening device inside their son’s teddy bear.
THE CURSE OF DON SCARDUCCI
directed by Chris Fondulas
Life is good for Don, a rough and tumble mobster, until the day he discovers his intolerance to gluten, and can no longer enjoy the staples of his everyday mobster diet. As his food habits change, so do his demeanor and lifestyle, but it all goes south when his mob family discovers his new life.
directed by James Lewis
A heart-breaking story of high suspense set against the backdrop of 1970s rural England: nobody is a stranger in the middle of nowhere.
directed by Cameo Wood
Real Artists, a dark tale set in the near future, is based on Ken Liu’s short story of the same name. Sophia just scored every animator’s dream interview at world famous Semaphore Animation Studios. But when the Creative Director, Anne Palladon, reveals that she knows about Sophia’s fan-edit of Semaphore’s hit film Mythos, Sophia sees her dreams begin to slip away.
A WHOLE WORLD FOR A LITTLE WORLD
directed by Fabrice Bracq
A woman tells a great story to her baby. In the manner of a tale with princes and princesses, she remains into his memories to pass on his daughter.
A GESTURE AND A WORD
directed by Dave Davidson
At age 50, musician and poet, Rob Morsberger was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer – and it came at the high point in his career. After 25 years in the music business, critics were starting to compare his songwriting to Randy Newman, Tom Waits and even Stephen Foster. Finally, it was all starting to come together.
MR HANDY’S BLUES
directed by Joanne Fish
Mr. Handy’s Blues is a musical documentary. It’s a tale of family conflict, racial tensions and redemption. W.C. Handy transformed the oral traditions of his Post Civil War African American countrymen into a unique and popular musical genre called the Blues. Taj Mahal, Bobby Rush, Vince Giordano, and others bring Handy’s story to life on a personal level, and illuminate the great accomplishments and contributions that Handy made through his universally loved compositions.
RAISED BY KRUMP
directed by Maceo Frost
Raised by Krump is a film that explores the Compton/South Central, Los Angeles born dance movement called “Krumping”, and the lives of some of the area’s most influential and prolific dancers. Raised by Krump blends the art of movement, music, and personal interviews together to tell the story of finding solace within an underground movement and the community that it creates.
SYMPHONY IN D
directed by Marlon Johnson & Dennis Scholl
“Symphony in D” is the story of a Pulitzer prize-nominated contemporary music composer, Tod Machover, from the MIT Media Lab. When Tod receives a commission for a new symphony from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, one of America’s greatest orchestras, the commission comes with one catch – Tod must work with a collaborator, well, a lot of collaborators actually! As part of the project, he is required to solicit contributions from anyone in the city of Detroit, and create America’s first crowdsourced symphony.
directed by Alex Preston
Avery, a withdrawn, soft-spoken young man, gets baited into attending Gay Pride with a guy he’s been messaging on a dating app. When he discovers the mystery man is his high-school bully, he must decide to embrace his bully’s advances or risk losing his first love.
directed by Steven Esteb
As a killer is executed for murdering a young gay man, two sets of parents struggle to deal with the consequences of fear and repression. As the clock ticks toward midnight and the execution, these two families are on a collision course to confront how this happened and who is to blame. Stark and foreboding, this story is told between the lines.
Love and Acceptance Shorts (107 minutes)
MORE IS MORE
directed by Alexis Boling
This portrait of artist Rolly Robinson celebrates fantasy, creativity, and escapism. Armed with his imagination and a hot glue gun, Rolly uses found materials to transform himself into elaborately realized characters that live for a day in our world.
directed by Mari Walker
As summer draws to a close, a young trans girl finds freedom in a secret midnight swim.
LOVE THE SINNER
directed by Jessica Devaney
Love the Sinner is a personal documentary essay exploring the connection between Christianity and homophobia in the wake of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
directed by Yudho Aditya
A teen living in rural Indonesia struggles between the traditions of his upbringing and his romantic idealization of the freedom of the west.
directed by Jake Graf
A more than tough childhood left behind, Chris meets dream woman Julie, and life lightens a little, but the growing feeling that theirs is a life half lived haunts Chris. Endlessly imagining what might have been, Chris is finally struck by the realisation that for some decisions there is no right answer, and that it’s those that truly define us.
CECIL AND CARL
directed by Elvis Leon & Gaston Yvorra
Cecil and Carl have been partners for 43 years, 8 months, 1 week and four days. In sickness and in health.
directed by James Dunstan
An unconventional love story between two teens leading up to the night of their high school prom, as they begin to understand the differences and similarities of love, sex and gender.
The Future of Film (95 minutes)
ONCE UPON A LINE
directed by Alicja Jasina
A man lives a boring life until he meets somebody and all his world turns upside down.
I AM VIRGIN
directed by Cody Mathieson Packer
Two awkward teenagers, set up by their parents to lose their virginity, come together and connect on their own terms.
directed by Brenna Malloy
Rocket tells a bittersweet fairy tale set in the world of 1950’s dirt track racing. With a legacy traditionally passed down from father to son, Annie Pankratz strives to build a destiny all her own.
directed by Malcolm Baity
After arriving late to his minstrel show performance, Paul, a black actor, gets a surprise visit from his estranged father. Though he wants to run, his acting partner Willie convinces him to stay. What happens on stage surprises everyone.
directed by Ieva Lukauskaite
Little Elegy is about a young girl named Lilly who witnesses the death of a pig while spending the summer at her Grandparents’ farm. Portrayed through the eyes of a terrified child, the film explores the haunting effects of violence and death, resulting in a dramatic change in perspective.
directed by Cameron Burnett
A man in a small town is accused of a murder he didn’t commit. He has an alibi. Trouble is… he was in bed with his brother’s wife.
Get tickets and more information at maconfilmfestival.com.