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MAGA Film Festival Scores Touchdown

Premiering Vince Dooley: The Other Side of the Football

By Gloria Stanley

The fourth annual MAGA Film & Video Festival opened on February 18, 2009, at the Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia. The festival kicked off with the special appearance of Gov. Sonny Perdue and the legendary former University of Georgia athletics director, Vince Dooley. It was a film festival touchdown!

In his remarks, Gov. Perdue said that Georgia "is the perfect location for creative people to come to shoot a low-budget film, with great availability and diverse sceneries. We know that Hollywood looks at all of these things, which we consider all healthy and great incentives."

Gov. Perdue also starred in a cameo role as the East Carolina coach in We Are Marshall (2006). He said, "The role was so small most of it wound up on the cutting floor; nevertheless, it was fun."

Hometown stars Carrie Preston (a Macon girl in one of HBO's hottest shows, True Blood), and screen legend actress and director Karen Black also made appearances at the festival this year. Festival board member and organizer, Terrell Sandefur, said the special guests signify how the event has grown.

Opening Night

The festival's opening screening was the documentary, Vince Dooley: The Other Side of the Football. The film is based on Dooley's roles as coach, husband, father, and other personal endeavors. Dooley led UGA to over 200 wins, six Southeastern Conference championships, and one National Championship in 1980. Dooley said his top star athlete was Hershel Walker because of his speed, agility, and strength.

The late Andrew Permar produced and directed Dooley's documentary. Dooley said, "I got to know him very close during that time. Despite the subject, it's a very good film." He added that "you can call the film a touchdown but it is more from Andy's work" than himself.

Permar's wife Debbie, a producer of the film, said she promised her husband that his project would be completed. She said this event "is very special and bittersweet." Perdue presented an award to Debbie before the screening. MAGA was the first public showing of the documentary.

Red Carpet Reception

Prior to the screening, a red carpet reception was held to meet and greet the Governor and Dooley. About 200 people were present including Macon Mayor Robert Reichert; Miriam Paris, Macon City Council President; Bill Thompson, Deputy Commissioner of Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office; and Gabriel Wardell, Executive Director of ATL Film Festival 365.

Mayor Reichert presented Dooley with the key to the city of Macon, recognizing him for his accomplishments in academic, athletics, and personal development.

Reichert said, "I like being mayor of Macon because it gives me the opportunity to say thank you to the organizers, sponsors, and promoters of this festival. In just four short years, this festival has gone from a fledging institution to one of great significance and great promise."

Paris said, "MAGA is a great opportunity for the City of Macon to show off its beauty, its culture, and great diversity."

Thompson stated, "We try our best to sponsor and supervise the types of resources to all the film festivals in the state, but MAGA definitely, in just four short years, has worked its way to the top ten."

Festival Growing Up

In its short life, the MAGA film festival has steadily grown. Sanderfur credits their success to a new marketing strategy to partner with "Without A," an online submission website for filmmakers. As a result, Sandefur said films were submitted "from all over the world, and they were really, really high-end quality." He added that this network has given MAGA greater exposure at home and abroad.

Another sign of growth was the fact that MAGA has expanded beyond its original venue, Cox Capitol Theatre. Films were also screened at the Grand Opera House and the historic Douglass Theatre.

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