FILM FESTIVAL REACHES NEW LEVELS OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Fayetteville’s eighth annual film festival will hit the downtown square next month, showcasing various genres that include sports films, animated short films and even a mock news cast.
What started as 540 Film Fest in 2009 has since transpired into something the entire community can latch onto with multiple events, local filmmakers, and a prime location downtown. 540, named for the interstate, was only supposed to be a one-year festival, but some volunteers and participants were so enthusiastic about film in Fayetteville, they came together to form Seedling Film Association, which went on to become the host of Offshoot Film Festival.
This past March, SFA board members took the leap to rename the Offshoot to Fayetteville Film Festival to grow the cultural landscape in Northwest Arkansas.
One of those board members and original 540 Film Fest volunteers is Jason Suel, association secretary and volunteer-hospitality chair of the festival. He joined as a volunteer, or foot soldier, of the first festival in 2009, which was his first year of being in Fayetteville. Since then, he has become a prominent face in the local film and theater scenes, with his own public access show “Later with Jason Suel” and positions in visual and performing arts groups around the city.
When Suel and other members started the organization seven years ago, there were no outlets for independent film to be showcased in Northwest Arkansas like there were elsewhere.
“It’s super important (to have a film festival),” Suel said. “For the reason that we have a lot going on in Northwest Arkansas with visual art, with performance art, you name it, lots of artistic opportunities … It’s important for Fayetteville to have a film fest because we are one of the major cities of Arkansas so we need to have our stamp on a film festival in our state.”
With Bentonville being a neighboring Northwest Arkansas city to Fayetteville, it is not uncommon to hear comparisons between the two festivals, especially with the recent name change to make Fayetteville’s stand out more. But there are differences between both that outsiders to the art might not see right away..
“There’s much more of a grassroots feel to it,” Suel said about the Fayetteville Film Festival. “We started from the ground up. We started with the community in mind. And Bentonville does an awesome thing as well. They bring in big guns and big money, and they’re giving exposure to independent film that we really won’t be able to do at this current level. But we do support the local filmmaker I feel like, and we do enhance that experience. We really feel like we do a little more on the local side.”
James Miskimen, a junior in the UA theater department, has volunteered at the Bentonville Film Festival, but appreciates the Fayetteville Film Festival in a different way. While the Bentonville Film Festival has seen a good amount of success with its support of women in film, as well as big names and even bigger donations, Miskimen said, the Fayetteville Film Festival is driven by local artists who want to bring the best films to the area.
“So while going to BFF you may get the chance to see a big celebrity like Geena Davis, at the Fayetteville Film Festival you will get a chance to meet the spine of the artistic community of Northwest Arkansas: artist and community leaders such as Jason Suel, Jules Taylor, and Morgan Hicks who have expanded opportunities for children and other local artists,” Miskimen said.
One of the films and accompanying talents being showcased at the film festival is “The Wedding Party.” What makes this film stand out, at least to local theater artists like Suel, is that after three weeks of rehearsal, it was shot in one take. The roughly two-hour film will show on the festival’s closing night.
With more than 50 films including “The Wedding Party” showing over the weekend, this year’s festival is projected to be bigger than ever before, with about half of projected ticket sales already being reached two weeks before the event.
“Look, this year we’re just going to blow it out,” Suel said. “It’s going to be awesome, not that it hasn’t been in the past. We’ve had middling attendance for a few years … We’re just amazed that our board, having the wisdom to change the name to Fayetteville Film Festival, the whole community has come around us in support.”
Along with the increased community outreach, university involvement has also gone up, which has not been the case in years past. Not only are students getting involved with volunteering, but faculty members are doing their part, too.
Morgan Hicks, an instructor in the theater department, is also heavily involved in the arts community in Fayetteville. After attending the festival for many years, she was approached last winter by the board to join as the festival’s artist outreach chair.
“I’m a huge film-lover, but don’t make films and I have lots of nonprofit and festival planning experience, so I thought I would be able to give a good perspective,” she said.
Arkansas hosts multiple documentary and genre-specific film festivals across the state, from the Hot Springs Documentary Film Fest to the Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Fest, which is one of the board’s favorites, Hicks said. Along with the various films the Fayetteville Film Festival will showcase, there are also other events to keep the community engaged such as workshops and panels.
“But the most important difference (between FFF, BFF and other film festivals),” Hicks said, “is that we are throwing a huge party for Fayetteville that is designed for people that make films and for people who love films. Who doesn’t love that?”
The Fayetteville Film Festival is set for Sept. 6-10 at the Fayetteville Downtown Square. Submissions for volunteers, as well as more information about the minds behind the festival, can be found on Fayetteville Film Festival’s website.
KYLE KELLAMS FROM OZARKS AT LARGE INTERVIEWS FFF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DAN ROBINSON AND BOARD MEMBER MORGAN HICKS ON OZARKS AT LARGE (KUAF 91.3FM)
Fayetteville Film Fest was invited to the KUAF studio to discuss the upcoming festival Click Here to listen to the interview. Our section starts at the 30 minute mark.
FAYETTEVILLE FILM FEST PARTNERS WITH CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART TO PRESENT OZARKUMENTARIES: DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT THE OZARKS
The Fayetteville Film Fest presents the popular short-film program Ozarkumentaries, featuring local stories of the Ozarks. In this year’s Ozarkumentaries, we’ll dive into the archives of the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral, and Visual History, and share ten short, archival films. The films showcase well-known Arkansas legends with historical footage of Jimmy Driftwood, former Razorback football coach Frank Broyles, President Bill Clinton, and Johnny Cash. The films also include a range of happenings in Arkansas, from a 1956 Arkansas Dept. of Transportation Road-Information film to original footage from 1920’s Watermelon Festival in Hope, Arkansas. Following the short films, there will be a discussion with Randy Dixon, Director of The Pryor Center, and archivist/editor Sarah Moore, moderated by Dan Robinson of the Fayetteville Film Festival. Sponsored by inVeritas and Demara Titzer. Free, register online or by calling Guest Services at 479.657.2335.
FAYETTEVILLE FILM FEST PARTNERS WITH CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART TO PRESENT AN OUTDOOR SCREENING OF 45 RPM AS PART OF THE OPEN ROAD FILM SERIES
45 RPM is a dark comedy following a road trip through Arkansas, told from the perspective of a young woman journeying to become an artist. Drawing on Arkansas’ unique musical heritage, showcasing local artists, and featuring original music, 45 RPM brings together a wealth of modern talent and Southern music legends, including bluesman CeDell Davis, rockabilly pioneer Joyce Green, and early garage rockers The Coachmen and The Spyders. The evening will also include a pre-screening conversation with Arkansas filmmaker Juli Jackson, artist Mandi Maxwell, and actor Jason Thompson.
The outdoor screening will begin (around) 8pm on the lawn of the museum. Admission is free, but reservations are suggested due to limited seating. Register online or call Guest Services at 479.657.2335. The event is being sponsored by inVeritas and Demara Titzer.
ORGANIZERS ANNOUNCE A NEW ERA FOR NEWLY RE-BRANDED FAYETTEVILLE FILM FEST
(Fayetteville, AR) March 29, 2016 — Dan Robinson, Executive Director of the Fayetteville Film Fest (formerly Offshoot Film Festival) today announced a major reimagining for the organization, which incorporated in January of 2010. The Board of the Seedling Film Association which has run the Offshoot Film Festival each fall since 2010 has voted to consolidate their identity under one name – Fayetteville Film Fest.
“We feel that this branding change will help clarify our identity for our audiences, which have grown steadily over the past seven years. Banking on the continued success of the festival and the ever-increasing quality of our programming, we are sure that The Fayetteville Film Fest will continue to be an exciting weekend for film lovers in our region and we will see even more excitement in the national filmmaking community,” stated Jason Suel, a board member of the Fayetteville Film Fest.
During this time of transition, the organization has welcomed many new faces to the board of directors, which now includes: Dan Robinson, Jason Suel, Gary Berger, Hannah Withers, Amanda Robinson, Jules Taylor, Randy Dixon, Hazel Hernandez and Morgan Hicks.
Along with the new name and energy from new board members, the organization has also adopted a new logo and mission statement that reflects their desired to become a leading player in the ever growing cultural landscape of the Northwest Arkansas region.
The newly adopted mission statement reads:
The Fayetteville Film Fest is a cultural leader in our region, bringing world class film to our state, developing meaningful relationships with filmmakers, and nurturing the art of filmmaking by uniting a community of creators and supporters.
Filmmakers can submit films for this year’s festival in a wide variety of categories from March 1st through June 31st; films accepted into competition will be announced on August 7th at an announcement event. Submissions will be accepted through the Film Freeway online platform.
In an exciting new initiative to attract Arkansas filmmakers to the festival, the organizers of the festival have elected to waive application fees for all films that have a connection to Arkansas (either by location, talent or subject) that are submitted before April 30.
The 2016 Fayetteville Film Fest will take place September 6-10, with locations around the Fayetteville Square.
FILMMAKER JENNICA SCHWARTZMAN TALKS ABOUT FILMING IN A SMALL TOWN LIKE FAYETTEVILLE
Click here to read the Msinthebiz.com article.
FAYETTEVILLE FILM FEST CONGRATULATES DAY ONE, SCREENED DURING THE 2015 FILM FEST, ON THEIR ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION!