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Festival Review

2008 Atlanta Film Festival

Red carpet premiere of The Lena Baker Story


Atlanta Film Festival

April 10-19, 2008


by Jay Blodgett


The 32nd Atlanta Film Festival got off to a red carpet premiere start with its opening night film, The Lena Baker Story. In attendance at the premiere were:

  • Ralph Wilcox, Director
  • Tichina Arnold, Actor
  • Beverly Todd, Actor
  • Michael Rooker, Actor
  • Chris Burns, Actor


This is my second year attending, and what a difference that year has made! Last year's opening feels like a distant memory, compared to the smooth, swift, and polished event that IMAGE Film and Video produced tonight. The Red Carpet arrivals were expertly and punctually shepherded by Charles Judson and Bo Shurling. (Southern Screen Report was represented by Gloria Stanley on interviews and myself on photography.)

Perhaps a key to this year's event was that the audience and special guests were there for the FILM and not so much for the "happening." At curtain time (the organization met it at the impressive mark of only ten minutes late!), Executive Director Gabriel Wardell greeted the crowd with some atypically pithy remarks! He introduced a new member of the IMAGE Board, Scott Safon, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer of CNN Worldwide, which also happens to be one of the major sponsors of the festival. As a representative of Turner Communications, Mr. Safon reiterated Turner's support of this years programming.

This was then followed by this year's fairly impressive festival trailer, which preceded the world premiere screening of THE LENA BAKER STORY. Ralph Wilcox, director, writer, and producer of the film was present, as were the principal performers, Tichina Arnold, Beverly Todd, Michael Rooker and Chris Burns. The film was also accompanied by executive producers Barton Rice and Charles Rice and the film's composer, Todd Cochran, and Lela Bond Phillips and Karan Pittman who wrote the book upon which the screenplay is based.

Wilcox filmed the production in Colquitt, Georgia, and post-production was also completed in Atlanta, as it was produced by the Southwest Film Commission's Jokara-Micheaux Film, Television, and Music Production Studio. Wilcox was exceptionally moved and grateful during the post-screening Q&A. He was also proud to announce that The Lena Baker Story will be screened at the Cannes Market on May 16, which is the "marketplace" during the Cannes Film Festival.

Read more about The Lena Baker Story here.

Read more AFF film reviews here.