Annual Georgia Film Festival turns to digital venue

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A select number of filmmakers ranging from students to local professionals will showcase their shorts during the Georgia Film Festivalnew window next month.

Scheduled for Oct. 2-3, the annual festival transitioned to a virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Department of Communication, Media and Journalism will host the event, which previously was held in-person on the Gainesville Campus.

“We turned this into an opportunity,” said Dr. Jeff Marker, professor and head of the CMJ. “Our filmmakers’ work will be able to reach an even larger audience than in previous years.”

Thirty-one films can been seen for free on the festival’s websitenew window during the two-day event.

“We had dozens of wonderful submissions from filmmakers this year,” said James Mackenzie, assistant professor of film and digital media at UNG. “A team of students carefully evaluated and selected the films, making this a student-curated event.”

The short films are grouped together based on a theme into four distinct blocks: Southern Perspectives, Midnight in Georgia, Filmmakers to Watch, and Nighthawk Shorts. This year’s shorts, which run an average of 10 minutes or less, were made by filmmakers based in Georgia and the surrounding states. The Nighthawk block features films exclusively from UNG students.

“I am always excited for our UNG students to screen their films,” Marker said. “Even on this new platform, it is a big deal for them to share their work. Now, their loved ones along with the cast and crew can watch the film from anywhere.”

Mackenzie said the Georgia Film Festival also provides an opportunity for other filmmakers to share their work and provides a chance for people to escape into a movie without visiting a movie theater.

“I’m excited to celebrate the filmmakers when there is so much uncertainty at the time with the film industry being affected by the pandemic,” he said.

The festival will also screen a feature documentary, “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché.”

“She was one of the first female filmmakers,” Mackenzie said. “This film reminds us great filmmakers can come from anywhere, especially North Georgia.”

Featuring minority and diverse filmmakers is a main component of the film festival. Mackenzie pointed out more than half of the films in the festival are directed by women.

“Representation is vital in today’s film community,” Mackenzie said. “We want to champion the idea that great films can come from any person no matter the person’s race, religion or gender. That is an important message for our students to hear, and we plan to showcase that with our selections for the Georgia Film Festival.”

The Georgia Film Festival will share about 30 films. For more information, visit the festival’s websitenew window.

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