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Festival Review

2008 Atlanta Film Fest Wrap-Up

Atlanta Film Festival 365

April 10-19, 2008


by Jay C. Blodgett


The 2008 Atlanta Film Festival came to a close on April 19 with the feature film, THE VISITOR. Executive Director of IMAGE Film and Video (now rechristened as Atlanta Film Festival 365), Gabriel Wardell, gave the obligatory thanks to the volunteers (an army of people, who did do a remarkable job this year!), the various sponsors and, of course, the staff of only four other people: Festival Director, Dan Krovich; Managing Director, Paula Martinez; Communications Director, Charles Judson; and Education Director, Elizabeth Hamilton. Wardell then introduced Thomas McCarthy, the director and writer of the closing night film, THE VISITOR, which opens in Atlanta on April 25, at the Tara.


After the successful opening night event at the Atlantic Station Regal Cinemas 16, the festival screened over 150 films at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, to more than 13,800 attendees.


See exclusive photos from the red carpet opening night here.





The logistics of the festival went off with barely a hitch! There were no house management snafus or crowd control chaos, even with last minute screening room substitutions. There was always a volunteer who was able to at least escalate to a volunteer manager any questions or concerns. Projection quality had improved by leaps and bounds from 2007! The kinks of adapting to the Landmark Midtown's newly installed digital system were completely resolved, even during any of the technically treacherous short subject programs. The were only a couple issues with the sound system. However, that could have been due to the media that the films were transferred on, as much as compatibility with the available systems.


  Parties and Swag


Several screenings came packaged with after parties held at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Paste, Soapbox Studios and Guillotine Post. And, as an extra bonus during the festival, The Independent, a pub above the Landmark Midtown, was opened exclusively for festival pass holders and filmmakers, where sponsors Stella Artois and Starbucks served beverages, gratis. This was an exceptionally nice touch for those who are "working the fest," since The Independent has complementary wi-fi access and work could be done during the hour between most screenings.


As for other perks or swag, what was lacking in the "gift bags" for Opening and Closing nights was made up for with promotional merchandise at The Independent. (Maybe the AFF-365 might consider hitting up gift bag sponsors in the future? Though not really having anything to do with "cinema," it does set off a celebratory feel to those paying premium prices for those events.)




The Atlanta Film Festival 365 is a competitive and juried festival. It is one of the festivals which short subjects are able to qualify for Academy Award screenings and nomination. The 2008 Jury Awards went to the following films:

  • Narrative Feature: MAKE OUT WITH VIOLENCE (dir. The Deagol Brothers, US, 2007, 108 mins.)

  • Documentary Feature: AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR (dirs. Peter Gilbert, Steven James, US, 2008, 96 mins.) Gilbert and James were also honorees at this years AFF-365 Gala Awards Celebration.

  • Narrative Short: AQUARIUM (dir. Rob Meyer, US, 2007, 17 mins.)

  • Animated Short: BUT SOME ARE BRAVE (dir. Grace Channer, Canada, 6 mins.)

  • Documentary Short: AFRICA'S DAUGHTERS (dir. Natalie Halpern, US, 2007, 25 mins.)

  • Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Direction: MY EFFORTLESS BRILLIANCE (dir. Lynn Shelton, US, 2007, 79 mins.)

  • Special Jury Prize for First Documentary: LAND OF CONFUSION (dir. Jeremy Zerechak, US, 2007, 91 mins.)

  • Special Jury Prize Pure Documentary Entertainment: SPINE TINGLER: THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY (dir. Jeffrey Schwarz, US, 2007, 82 mins.)

  • Audience Awards: went to YOUNG @ HEART (dir. Stephen Walker, US, 2007, 110 mins.) for feature, and the short subject was MEXICAN IN THE CLOSET (dir. Chuck Moore, US, 2008, 25 mins.). [The Audience Favorite for Animated Short was to be announced at press time.]

  • Pink Peach Award: AFF-365, with the sponsorship of Turner Broadcasting, also premiered an award for films with a GLBT focus, called the Pink Peach Award. Awards went to: XXY (dir. Lucia Puenzo, Argentina/Spain/France, 2007, 91 mins.); a Special Jury Prize went to THE ELEVATOR (dir. Ben Hakim, Israel, 2007, 23 mins.).

  • Rapid i Movement Competition: The AFF-365's Rapid i Movement is a competition in which groups create a short in 48 hours. The Grand Prize went to DONE IN ONE, by Mavin Productions.






For capsule reviews of the above films and more, go to editor Jay C. Blodgett's blog: "Life with Movies and Maxxxxx."