Curtain rises on the Chattanooga Film Festival in April
DURING THE PAST FEW MONTHS, I’VE MENTIONED THE UPCOMING CHATTANOOGA FILM Festival in passing. Details have been relatively sparse as the program has been coming together over the course of the year, slowly building to what will hopefully be something truly spectacular. A film festival is key to for the film community in Chattanooga for several reasons.
First, it gives local film fans a chance to see new films that haven’t been shown in other cities. In general, Chattanooga only gets independent or art films much later than their release, after they’ve become critical or commercial successes. A common complaint among cinephiles in the area is how long we have to wait to have access to truly great movies.
Obviously, streaming sites, On Demand viewing, and same day releases on iTunes have helped somewhat, but there is something to be said for seeing a film in a theater, for the first time, with like-minded fans. A good film festival is a step in the right direction. But for the film community itself, a film festival legitimizes the city for distributors and filmmakers.
Local group Mise En Scenesters has been working diligently for the past few years to open Chattanooga’s doors to films not seen at your local multiplex. They have given film fans a place to go to experience unique films. Now, the Chattanooga Film Festival will serve to expand this audience and help make Chattanooga a film destination.
As the organizers for the festival state, “Exposing Chattanoogans to the top independent films is our mandate. We partnered with Mise En Scenesters to put an emphasis on unique programming, and we’ve cultivated incredible relationships with the nation’s most prestigious distribution companies to guarantee the best films for the festival…we will be accepting submissions from across the nation.
"Our goal is to have movies for everyone, by everyone. Proudly, we will seek out local and regional filmmakers and dedicate prime time during the Chattanooga Film Festival to showcase their unique voices.”
This local focus is vital. It’s important for the festival to bring great films from everywhere—but this is still Chattanooga, a place where local arts shine. There is some serious talent here, much of it being nurtured by the film programs at Chattanooga State and Bryan College. By promising these local artists prime spots during the festival, the arts culture of the city is celebrated and honored. Credit should go to the organizers for recognizing the importance of local filmmakers and including them in the process.
The most exciting part of the Chattanooga Film Festival’s recent announcement, however, is the identification of its sponsors. It goes without saying that a film festival is an expensive undertaking. Films themselves are extremely expensive, and for a film to be even moderately successful, money must be spent. Several local organizations have come on as partners to ensure that the film festival is a success and will continue past its first year.
According to festival organizers, “This month, The Lyndhurst Foundation joined The Chattanooga Film Festival as a major partner. Founded to insure a positive, cultural impact in the local community… [the foundation offers] an unquestioned passion to further advance our shared goal of creating an enduring experience for the betterment of Chattanooga.”
Additionally, “The Hunter Museum of American Art enthusiastically partnered with the Festival in October, marking a relationship rooted in education. Such generous support will allow for unrivaled education panels featuring working professionals from across the country.
"The Hunter Museum will also host [the] Opening Night Gala in [its] incredible facility overlooking the Tennessee River.” And very importantly, Carmike Cinemas has been supporting the film festival since its early inception, ensuring a home for many of the films during April 3-6. Several more local sponsors have come on board, such as Pure Sodaworks, which has had a presence at many Mise En Scenester’s showings. Groups like Diversified Printing, Blue Ribbon Media, Maucere Law Firm, and Mashburn Outdoor Advertising have also pledged support.
However, the film festival will not be successful without support from the general public. This festival will not only feature great films, films for everyone, but celebrity panels and discussions for true aficionados to interact and learn about film as a medium. The festival organizers consider education as important as entertainment, and there are many programs planned to teach about the how and why of filmmaking.
Tickets for the event will go on sale the January and as more details become available, The Pulse will keep readers apprised. Film fans have asked for more opportunities like this one—let’s hope this is the start of an annual tradition.