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Friday, November 21, 2008

New Home For Atlanta Film Fest 365 Blog

Yes the Atlanta Film Festival 365 Blog has moved. It's now fully integrated into our home website.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Academy Awards Shortlist for Documentaries

From indieWIRE:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have named 15 films that made the short-list in the Documentary Feature category for the 81st Academy Awards, whittling the number down from a record 94 that had originally qualified. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on the shortlist. The Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater, and the awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The Fifteen films are:

"At the Death House Door, directed by Peter Gilbert and Steve James
"The Betrayal" (Nerakhoon), directed by Ellen Kuras
"Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh", directed by Roberta Grossman
"Encounters at the End of the World", directed by Werner Herzog
"Fuel", directed by Josh Tickell
"The Garden", directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy
"Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts", directed by Scott Hicks
"I.O.U.S.A.", directed by Patrick Creadon
"In a Dream", directed by Jeremiah Zagar
"Made in America", directed by Stacy Peralta
"Man on Wire", directed by James Marsh
"Pray the Devil Back to Hell", directed by Gini Reticker
"Standard Operating Procedure", directed by Errol Morris
"They Killed Sister Dorothy", directed by Daniel Junge
"Trouble the Water", directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin

Get the latest coverage of awards season in indieWIRE's special section.

At The Death House Door won the Grand Jury Award for Documentary at 2008 Atlanta Film Festival. The film's directors, Peter Gilbert and Steve James, were also honored at the 2008 IMAGE Film Gala Awards. The filmmaking duo previously nominated for the Oscar for Hoop Dreams, in 1995.

(Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Ric Reitz - photo courtesy of Bob Mahoney)

Monday, November 17, 2008

2008 Screenplay Retreat Finito

It's hard to believe, but it's been two months since I wrote this on the blog: "The fundamental element of 99 percent of all narrative filmmaking is the screenplay. You can say the director is the beating heart of a film. We're going to adamantly say it's 110 pages of paper and ink. The power a well written script can have to attract talent and to inspire passion isn't the stuff of legends, it's the truth."

Well those scripts did attract some serious talent to Atlanta this weekend. From our industry mentors who have been involved in some of the most influential projects of the last 30 years, to our winning screenwriters whose varied backgrounds, scripts and awards ensure that the world of film, hell, media in general, will never be bereft of great stories.

Also on display this weekend was the power these scripts had in bringing 12 strangers from around the country to the ATL for an experience that created new friendships and networking opportunities. You know you're in friend territory when you...okay me...have had your ass spanked by both fest director Dan and Miracole, wife of our Perfect Pitch operator Chris Burns (pictured below in uniform), on the dance floor in front of the screenwriters. Or, enter into a can't-be-repeated conversation with both a screenwriter and a mentor that starts innocently with a pants leg zipper being unzipped. (Again me) Yes, we kept this prestigious retreat respectful and above board the entire weekend.

The entire weekend moves much too quickly.

I'd like to name everyone involved with this weekend, but unfortunately, the list is way, way too long. It takes a small company of soldiers to pull a weekend like this off. When it's all said and done, by my count, there's literally over a 100 people who were involved in this competition and retreat. From the script readers and folks who provided coverage, to the folks who helped promote it, to the actors who read.

I'd like to thank Sandy Corley (pictured on the right) for hosting the Friday night reception at her home for the screenwriters and mentors. You know the night's a success when the writers and mentors opt to walk back to the hotel together as a group. It's that kind of Southern hospitality that sucks people right in and makes them comfortable enough to let their guard down (which is a must, because the next day is when the critiquing and mentoring happens in earnest).

I'd also like to thank Drew Fransen and Hotel Midtown for hosting our group again this year. Having a host hotel that you know will do whatever it can to make your guests feel welcome is key.

As a venue, the weekend wouldn't have been what is without the Margaret Mitchell House and staff. Gracie Gummere and her crew were accommodating, friendly and again, demonstrated what Southern Hospitality is all about. Working hand in hand with the Margaret Mitchell House just reinforces how much writing is at the center of this weekend. And having our reading in the space couldn't have gone better. Is it no surprise that our collaboration continues into the New Year with some of our Winter/Spring screenwriting classes?

Huge thanks to Chris Burns who hosted Perfect Pitch: Elevator Edition. Believe it our not, we added this easily 15 minute component to this year's reading and we actually had an event that was almost 20 minutes shorter than last year. Between our mentors, who were definitely game, Dan and Burns, it was an event that was not only fun, but added an injection of energy that kept the show flowing.

Shout out to the actors at the reading. The list is entirely too long, so what I'm going to do is upload the program and link to it. As usual, Atlanta's talent brought their "A" game.

Other thanks to Turner; Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment; Delta; Georgia Council for the Arts; Fulton County Arts Council; National Endowment for the Arts; Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs; Metro Atlanta Arts Fund; Atlanta Convention & Vistitors Bureau; and the members of Atlanta Film Festival 365.

Lastly, thanks to Joel Zwick, J.T. Petty, Anne Hubbell, Stephen Israel, Morgan J. Freeman, and Carly Hugo. These mentors where gracious with their time and advice. Without them this weekend wouldn't be what it is.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ATL Film Fest Alums McKinnon and Goggins land AMC series

Ray McKinnon and Lisa Blount are joined by Walton Goggins to celebrate the Oscar win for "The Accountant" as best live-action short. The film qualified for its Oscar by winning the Atlanta Film Festival

AMC, Johnson to 'Rectify' drama
Network to develop legal show


AMC is developing a legal-themed drama with "Breaking Bad" exec producer Mark Johnson.
Walton Goggins, of FX's "The Shield," is set to star in "Rectify" as a man released from a lengthy prison term after being exonerated by DNA evidence.

Script was penned by Ray McKinnon, who won an Oscar for his 2001 live-action short "The Accountant."

McKinnon will exec produce along with Johnson. Goggins is set to co-exec produce along with Stephen Kay.

"Ray McKinnon's script beautifully weaves together the legal drama surrounding a wrongful conviction into a great character-driven family drama," said Christina Wayne, AMC's senior veep of scripted series and miniseries.

Johnson has been a key player in AMC's push into original series as one of the stewards of "Breaking Bad." The gritty drama earned an Emmy for star Bryan Cranston in September.

In addition to "Rectify," AMC's series development slate includes a fantasy drama "Red Mars," based on the classic sci-fi tome by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Read the full article at Variety

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Project Direct: Sundance Speed Filmmaking Competition

Sundance and Youtube announce: Project Direct a new speed film making competition. See the introduction below from PI and THE WRESTLER director Darren Aronofsky:

How funny this should be announced on the same day the Onion announced a YouTube Contest Challenging Users to Make a 'Good' Video:

Will New President Mean New Media and a New Hollywood?

Fundraising to getting out the vote, no other presidential candidate has used the Internet to fuel their campaign the way President-Elect Barack Obama did. And the speed that he had up and running is further indications that an Obama presidency will use the Internet as an integral tool in communicating with the public.

But what does an Obama presidency mean for media and Hollywood?

Considering that Obama wants to push for further diversification in media, create a cabinet level post of chief technology officer, expand broadband access for the nation and believes the U.S. isn't creating enough high, what we could be seeing is the ground work for a New Hollywood.

With a CTO focused on creating new security measures for the U.S. at large, combined with a more robust Internet, the underpinnings of ever more secure methods of distributing movies across the country and overseas could be possible.

As audiences crave programing that speaks to them, diversification, in combination with a technology shift, could see the already astounding number of voices explode in unimagined ways. Diversification, depending on how it's implemented (so much of new media doesn't fall under FCC rule) could mean that the media conglomerates' continued stranglehold on distribution could become more egalitarian. Smaller companies finally getting a foot into door that is notoriously narrow.

It's hard to say what the future will look like. Howevever, with a blackberry addicted, flickr using President at the helm, we could be looking at the impetus of a web 3.0.

(photo: LA Times)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ATL Film Fest @ GPP Fundraiser

Last week Georgia Production Partnership held it's annual "Made in Georgia" fundraiser at Magick Lantern Studios.

Positioned at the intersection of art, culture and commerce, the Atlanta Film Festival champions shared community experiences, fosters the free exchange of ideas, and nurtures the development of a thriving industry.

The Atlanta Film Festival demonstrates leadership in the field by acting as the creative hub between film lovers, independent film makers, and the industry. As such, we were there to represent:

Managing director Paula Martinez with Board Member Ashley Epting (Producer, The Hill; Harry's Pig Shop & Epting Events)

Ashley dives into a shot with Programming manager Elizabeth Ingram

Board Member Pete Ballard (Lab 601)

Board Member Linda Burns and JD Taylor

Monday, November 10, 2008

Youth Filmmaking Opportunity

Looking for hands-on experience shooting with digital video
cameras, non-linear editing, scriptwriting and storyboarding?

Join the FUEL Media Explorer Post program to develop
leadership and communication skills, which wil help you speak
out about issues that matter to you.

From Nov. 2008 to May 2009, FUEL Media will provide a series
of workshops for young people (ages 15-18) to create a variety of
public service announcements, studio projects, community forums
and screenings. These activities will give particpants an
opportunity to address topics of community development, cultural
enrichment and personal growth.

To download your application today, visit and return via fax or e-mail to
404-874-3239 /

Watch 2007 Alum Soldiers of Conscience Online

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

THE VISITOR is coming back to visit once more!

Just announced by Active Voice and ACLU Of Georgia! THE VISITOR is back in Atlanta for limited screenings at various college campuses around town, with the first one scheduled for this Thursday! Made possible with support from Active Voice, the ACLU of Georgia is presenting these screenings in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each event is additionally being co-sponsored by a number of other human rights groups.

THE VISITOR, as many of you know, premiered in Georgia as the closing night film of the 2008 Atlanta Film Festival back in April. It eventually had a theatrical run and screened at limited venues this Summer with no more screenings since then in the area...UNTIL NOW! There are 4 encore opportunities to see this film on the big screen so if you missed it at our festival or this Summer, go out and support human rights while getting to see a great film!

THE VISITOR will be screening on:

Thursday, Nov. 6th, 7 p.m., PushPush Theater; post-screening discussions with Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia. Sponsored by: The ACLU of Georgia, Georgia for Democracy, Amnesty International, and many other human rights groups

-Tuesday, Nov. 11th, 6 p.m., Morehouse College, Wheeler Hall, Room 236; post-screening discussions with Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia and a former detainee will also be a guest and participate in discussion and q&a. Sponsored by: The ACLU of Georgia, Morehouse Sociological Association, Morehouse Philosophy & Religion Society, and other Morehouse student groups

-Wednesday, Nov. 12th, 7 p.m., Emory University, White Hall, Room 206; post-screening discussions with Herbert Abdul, former immigration detainee and Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia. Sponsored by: The ACLU of Georgia, ACLU Emory chapter, Amnesty International Emory chapter, Emory South Asian Law Student Association

-Wednesday, Nov. 19th, Georgia State University campus, location and time TBD. Sponsored by: The ACLU of Georgia, Amnesty International Georgia State chapter

Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't Stress Election Night - Boozer Doodle at the Vortex

Tuesday, November 4th- Boozer Doodle is Election Night Headquarters!

Join our new electoral emcees Elizabeth and Jenny from the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy as they bring you the groundbreaking results of our nations' biggest political party! Get your sketchbook ballots ready to rock the vote as Dames Aflame performer Shockaboom shakes the room with her own special campaign contributions. This is one battleground state that can't be missed!

Check out our new website for pictures from the last event and new
information for this upcoming Tuesday!

So vote early & we will see you there!

When: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 7:30 PM
Where: The Vortex Bar & Grill
878 Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta GA 30309

Tickets are sold at the door for $10 bucks on the night of the event.
Front row tables for $13. (cash only)
Paid parking lot across the street ($2.50)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Out On Film: All Grown Up

ATL icon Ru Paul closes OUT 2007's Out On Film screening of STARRBOOTY!

More than a few folks have been asking about the current status of Out On Film, and how The Atlanta Film Festival (nee IMAGE) will be involved in its future. So, I figured I'd offer an update.

Over the course of the past two and half years, I've blogged about the challenges (crisis?) facing LGBT Film Festivals:

The problem is compounded by the recent theatrical success of a film like Noah's Arc.

On 5 screens, "Arc" grossed $161,302, averaging an astounding $32,260. The film opened in New York (Chelsea), Los Angeles (Sunset 5), Chicago (Century Centre Cinema), Atlanta (Landmark Midtown), and Washington, DC (E Street Cinema). Not only was its average among the best of 2008 (it's just a few $100 behind "Rachel Getting Married"'s fall season benchmark average earlier this month), it also is already 2008's highest grossing narrative gay film overall (beating Regent Releasing's "Shelter," which grossed $142,666 this Spring).

Such stories bode well for the future of LGBT cinema, but complicate the prospects for LGBT Film Festivals.

The more LGBT films find success in the marketplace, on broadcast outlets and On Demand outlets like Logo and hereTV!, the more important it is for events like Out On Film to focus on the development of the community!

A successful LGBT Film Festival MUST, first and foremost, serve the needs of the COMMUNITY. While content remains important, the event MUST be on par with a community event like Atlanta Pride! if it is going to succeed long term.

As part of an ambitious strategic plan, the Atlanta Film Festival began to transition Out On Film back into the hands of LGBT community leaders. (This plan returns Out On Film back to its original mission...IMAGE was never intended to be the sole presented of Out On Film, but rather had been invited to advise with the film festival production aspects of the event.)

As described in this article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (back when the paper had film critics on the rolls), IMAGE envisioned a partnership that involved a multi-year hand off:

"While Image will be "stewards" for this year's Out on Film —- to be held Nov. 6-9 —- and participate in the call for entries and film selections, the event will move to Theatre Decatur, which will become one of the fest's major players, Wardell says. Also involved will be Carma Productions Inc., which annually prints guides to events such as Atlanta Pride....Ideally what we'd like to see happen is for a lot more of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community leaders to take ownership of the event," Wardell says. "We can continue to give guidance, but Out on Film needs a community. We're using as a model the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which has such a large base and sponsorship support."

Since this article first appeared in the AJC in May, there have been significant changes to this plan (as reported in Southern Voice.)

An Oct. 3 press release confirms again that IMAGE Film & Video released Out on Film, Atlanta’s gay and lesbian film festival, to a new group in control of the event since May. It also states the new board recently voted to decline IMAGE’s offer to help with resources and guidance and formed its own entity, Out on Film, Inc.

What the release doesn’t say is that the new organization will not produce a festival in 2008. Out on Film is traditionally held at the end of October or in early November. ...Once we settle on the dates in the very near future, we will start holding fundraising screenings.”

Out on Film is now run by several gay business owners, including Advantage Graphics & Signs, Brushstrokes, Carma Productions, Labrys Magazine, the Gay Community Yellow Pages, and Theatre Decatur.

Good news! On the NEW Web site, Out On Film 21's dates and venue have been announced:

Mark your calendar

The 2009 Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (2009 AGLFF) will be held May 28 - 31, 2009 at the Plaza Theatre.

Please join our mailing list to be kept informed of upcoming events, movie screenings, festival information, and community involvement.

Congratulations to the NEW Out On Film. We couldn't be happier to see our baby all grown up.

All said, it is IMPORTANT for the me to stress the following point: The Atlanta Film Festival will continue to showcase significant and important works by for and about the LGBT community. In the 2007 Atlanta Film Festival, the festival showcased a strand of Out On Film content and issued the first PINK PEACH AWARD to celebrate superior LGBT filmmaking, as covered in Southern Voice. (Such prizes are issued at International Fests like Berlin and the best of our knowledge, we are the first U.S. fest to follow suit.)

The ultimate goal of this move is to allow Out On Film to thrive--just as the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has succeeded under the guidance and stewardship of a dedicated (and vested!) community.

This past year, the Atlanta Film Festival has provided our members numerous LGBT themed opportunities this year--including in person appearances by Alan Ball (TOWELHEAD) and Kimberly Pierce (STOP LOSS).

We'll continue to pursue screenings of interest to the LGBT community: in fact, we have a select cache of passes to a sneak preview of Gus Van Sant's MILK.

The first 10 folks who renew (or sign up for a new!) Atlanta Film Festival 365 Membership (click here) and email me at gabe[at]AtlantaFilmFestival[dot]com with the header "Milk: Out On Film Renewal" will be officially RSVP'd for our MILK sneak preview.