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Festival Review
Wrap-Up: 2008 AJFF Q&A

by Jay Blodgett

The majority of my film festival experience has been spent in San Francisco, a community so cinema hungry that a bed sheet and a projector can beckon an audience. Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement, but only a BIT! The 2006 SF DocuFest was held in a rec center with a sheet of paper on a wall, a business projector connected to a laptop, and a couple hundred folding chairs, AND nearly all 38 programs sold out! The Bay Area is also home to innumerable special interest film festivals, some of which have international reputations, i.e., Frameline (aka the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival) and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. The audiences at these festivals reach an anticipatory fever pitch, of which the sponsors take advantage. The introductions almost ALWAYS include a parade of sponsors and a "membership pitch," before a potentially technically suspect projection begins.

The recent Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, as presented by the American Jewish Committee - Atlanta Chapter, was surprisingly and pleasantly atypical of my general experience. The audiences were received beyond being patrons, but as guests. The volunteer staff was professional, polite, and efficient. Almost all of the screening participants (presenters and discussion panelists) were polished and comfortable in front of the string of sell out crowds, which were accommodated at the Lefont Cinemas in Sandy Springs and the Regal Cinemas at Atlanta Station. (I did not attend any screenings at the Lefont Cinemas in Medlock.)

I came out of my AJFF experience wanting to clarify my thoughts on the experience and submitted a dozen questions to the festival organizers. I received responses from:

  • Jan Epstein, a member of the Film Selection Committee
  • Judy Marx, Executive Director American Jewish Committee, Atlanta Chapter
  • David Kuniansky, AJFF festival co-chair

Click here to read the Q&A interview >>