City’s busy film season concludes with a chance to support young artists
Chattanooga’s film festival season ends on April 18 with a reminder. While clubs like Mise En Scenesters and the extremely successful Chattanooga Film Festival have turned the Scenic City into a veritable haven for film enthusiasts in a very short time, there has been a considerable amount of progress for those inclined to create on the other side of the lens.
Many of the opportunities concerning film in Chattanooga are geared towards the audience—but, increasingly, filmmakers are become Chattanooga’s primary artists. From monthly events on filmmaking at the Backlot in the Heritage House to Chattanooga State’s Professional Film and Television program to the latest franchise film competition, the 54 Film Fest, filmmakers have a multitude of ways to practice their craft.
In addition, one of the primary focuses of the Chattanooga Film Festival is breaking down barriers between the audience and the filmmaker. Chances are if you see a film at the festival, you’ll get to meet the filmmakers, which can be a powerful learning tool for students, both in terms of technical understanding and as inspiration.
Very few filmmakers come to the art without some sort of training. Even the slacker god Kevin Smith attended film school for a season before making “Clerks.” That Chattanooga has these opportunities for filmmakers is nothing short of miraculous for a city this size. And so as the festival season wraps up, it’s fitting that we return to a Chattanooga institution: The Broad Street Film Festival.
The Broad Street Film Festival has a 10-year history of giving student film a place to shine. It was noticeably absent
last year and its return is the perfect way to end an incredible two months of film. Student films are frequently derided for being overwrought and overacted; the student film is typically accompanied by an eye roll and a sigh.
It’s easy for an audience to focus on the flaws. But educators see student film projects differently. Most teachers try gently correcting while focusing on the good things found in any assignment. Festivals like the Broad Street are meant to engage the student in the audience experience and allow for self reflection on the work done. It’s a unique opportunity for the community at large to participate in the education of future filmmakers and actors, supporting the art form by thoughtful criticism.
How successful this experience is depends on the quality of the film community. It’s worth noting that the winner in the Short Film Category of the Chattanooga Film Festival was a former student of Chris Willis, longtime organizer of the Broad Street Film Festival and professor at Chattanooga State. Graham Uhelski’s short film “Doppelgänger” competed with 53 short films from around the world—and won.
Uhelski came through Chattanooga State and learned his craft there, perfected it, and continues his career in Chattanooga. The Broad Street Film Festival may be the beginning for an entire generation of filmmakers that will contribute to Chattanooga’s ever-growing film community.
The festival features student submissions ranging from short narrative films and documentaries to trailers and music videos. All will be critically judged for awards in cinematography, editing, screenwriting, directing, acting and other technical categories. Judges include professors and professionals from around the region, each one looking for new talents and quality film.
Film screenings will take place at the Carmike Majestic 12 on Broad Street on April 18. Showtimes are 1, 5, and 9 p.m., and tickets will be available at the door for $7.50 per person, but an online donation of $10 or more to the Broad Street Film Festival Fund via The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga (cfgc.org) will provide donors with two tickets to the film screenings.
I have been a judge for the festival in past years and was asked to judge again this year, although my teaching schedule will prevent me from doing so. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the films can be a little one-note. Given that many of the competing colleges are religious institutions like Bryan College and Lee University, a certain focus in subject matter is to be expected.
However, while the religious nature of some of the films can be on the nose, there is no doubt that the students are learning the technical side of filmmaking well. The goal of the festival is stated to be: “[increasing] the knowledge and talents of the next generation of collegiate filmmakers to make a difference in not only the Chattanooga area but the nation and the world as well.”
Come support this goal and local film this weekend.