2014 Atlanta Film Festival
When: March 28 to April 6
Where: Most events at the Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta, or 7 Stages theatre, 1105 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta.
Cost: All-access, $325; film and conference, $225; film, $125; movie hopper, $50; single movie, $10.
The Atlanta Film Festival runs from March 28 to April 6 with most events taking place at the Plaza Theatre or 7 Stages theatre. This year’s festival offers dozens of narrative and documentary features showcasing the diversity of the global independent film movement as well as a variety of film-related events intended to support Georgia’s indie scene.
Two upcoming releases creating a lot of buzz bookend the festival.
“Joe,” directed by David Gordon Green (“All the Real Girls,” “Pineapple Express”) opens the festival with a story of friendship, violence and redemption told through the eyes of Joe Ransom (Nicolas Cage), a hard-tempered ex-con who meets a hard-luck kid played by Tye Sheridan (“Mud”).
The final night of the festival, Saturday, April 5, features the 2013 Toronto Film Festival hit “The Double.” Directed by Richard Ayoade (“Submarine”), this comedy centers on a man driven insane by the appearance of his doppelganger. It stars Mia Wasikowska and Jesse Eisenberg.
Sandwiched between are 54 narrative and documentary features, 11 short program presentations and numerous special presentations dedicated to popular interests ranging from food and law to sports and music. The Film to Table series offers a glimpse into today’s most prominent food trends. The Reel Law track provides viewers in-depth perspectives on legal issues. The Scoreboard Series takes viewers on an inside look at the sports world. The Music Film Series explores the global music scene. Filmgoers can also take a cinematic trip around the world through the Passport Film Series, a selection of films from across the globe.
However, the festival continues to support local filmmaking by including 43 features or shorts shot in Georgia and/or featuring Atlanta natives, part of the Georgia on Our Mind film track.
The festival’s main competition consists of eight narrative features, seven Pink Peach (LGBT) Features and nine documentary features, all battling for each category’s Grand Jury Prize.
The final day of the festival, April 6, will be dedicated to encore presentations of fan favorites and critics’ choices.
“The Atlanta Film Festival is entering its 38th year with a diverse slate of films by talented filmmakers from more than 100 countries around the globe,” Atlanta Film Festival Executive Director Chris Escobar said. “Each year, we continue to build and grow and with the record number of over 3,200 submissions, we were able to program the most selective group of features and shorts that the festival has ever had. We are honored and excited to share these films with the Atlanta community.”
The festival has grown along with the Georgia filmmaking industry. Festival organizers launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to bring more filmmakers to festival. Some of those filmmakers will share their expertise through the festival’s Creative Conference, which offers the opportunity for aspiring filmmakers, festivalgoers and members of the community to learn from industry experts.
The Creative Conference lineup tackles an array of subjects from structuring a screenplay and navigating the film festival circuit, new media and marketing to a master class with two-time Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton. These workshops take place Monday, March 31 through Friday, April 4.
The festival is also partnering with Pivot, Participant Media’s new cable network targeting millennials, which is sponsoring the festival’s entire documentary lineup and will showcase documentary features “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz” and “Cesar’s Last Fast.”
“As much as our objective is to foster cultural and creative discovery among our entire audience, we’re equally passionate about sparking conversation and inspiring change among our younger festivalgoers,” Features and Special Programs programmer Kristy Breneman said.
This year offers one of the strongest lineups of films and events in the festival’s history and is a must for film enthusiasts throughout North Georgia.
As Escobar put it, “The Atlanta Film Festival is not just an opportunity to see amazing independent films but also a chance to meet and interact with the professionals in the film industry who make movie magic happen.”
Jeff Marker is head of the Communication, Media & Journalism Department at the University of North Georgia. His reviews appear weekly in Get Out and on gainesvilletimes.com/getout.