On Sunday, April 2, 2017, the 41st annual Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) concluded ten days of film screenings and events that drew approximately 27,000 attendees to a variety of venues across Atlanta, including the historic Plaza Theatre, 7 Stages Theatre and Dad’s Garage. The festival, which opened with a red carpet gala screening of ‘cult classic in the making’ DAVE MADE A MAZE on Friday, March 24, 2017, concluded in just as spectacular of a fashion with the Closing Night Presentation of A24 Films’ MENASHE on Saturday, April 1, 2017.
The City of Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed was on hand for the Closing Night Presentation to celebrate the conclusion of the 2017 festival and introduce the film to a packed auditorium at the Plaza. While on stage with ATLFF’s Executive Director, Christopher Escobar, Reed made a surprise announcement that he intended to award the festival and year-round parent organization, the Atlanta Film Society (ATLFS), with a $19,500 grant from the City of Atlanta.
Reed noted that the extraordinary work ATLFS has done over the last four decades to support and grow Atlanta’s film and television community inspired him to award the grant. He spoke to ATLFS staff and members of the film community in attendance by saying, “You all keep giving and giving and giving…and we can’t forget that filmmaker that does this for the love of the art and their passion.”
With the recent boom in Atlanta’s television and film production, the city now ranks as the #3 market for production in the world, which prompted Reed to proudly continue, “Thank you for allowing me to be your mayor. I believe that great cities have great artists, and that’s what you all represent.”
In addition to the generous grant, Reed also announced plans to assist in the rebuilding of the Plaza’s upstairs auditorium, which was damaged just days before the start of the 2017 film festival during a third party rental event. The historic theatre has been the primary screening location of ATLFF for the last five years and screenings previously scheduled to take place in the damaged auditorium were moved to alternate, nearby locations. The unexpected damage did not cause any events to be canceled entirely.
ATLFF also had the pleasure of hosting the 2017 awards presentations during the final weekend of the festival where winners in nine categories were announced. In addition to taking home the awards, winners of the Narrative Short, Animated Short and Documentary Short Jury Awards now qualify for the 2018 Oscar® short list. ATLFF is one of only 14 festivals in the country that is Oscar qualifying in three or more categories.
The 2017 Atlanta Film Festival juried prize winners are:
- Narrative Feature Jury Award – CORTEZ
- Narrative Feature Special Jury Prize – LA SOLEDAD
- Documentary Feature Jury Award – RAT FILM
- Documentary Feature Special Jury Award – RAISING BERTIE
- Narrative Short Jury Award – IN THE HILLS
- Narrative Short Jury Honorable Mention: SUBMARINE
- Narrative Short Jury Honorable Mention: IL SILENZIO (THE SILENCE)
- Documentary Short Jury Award – VICTOR & ISOLINA
- Documentary Short Jury Honorable Mention: DISTRIBUTION
- Animated Short Jury Award – ONCE A HERO
- Animated Short Jury Honorable Mention: THE WRONG END OF THE STICK
- Music Video Jury Award – “Soy Yo” performed by Bomba Estéreo
- Music Video Jury Honorable Mention – “Oh Elise” performed by VIECH
- New Mavericks Award – THE NINE
- Georgia Film Award – BORN RIVER BYE
- Filmmaker-to-Watch Award – Malcom Washington for BENNY GOT SHOT
Of the more than 6,000 film submissions for the 2017 festival, the final lineup included 47 feature length films and 116 short films, representing 40 countries – with 53 percent of selected submissions directed by a female and 40 percent from filmmaker(s) of color. Highlights included Opening and Closing Night presentations and galas, eight Marquee screening events and seven World Premieres.
In addition, ATLFF welcomed a diverse lineup of upcoming releases from major film studios, including Focus Features, 20th Century Fox, CBS Films and Sony Pictures Classics, and hosted notable talent, including director Bill Watterson (DAVE MADE A MAZE), and Executive Producer Danelle Eliav (MENASHE). There were a dozen Special Presentations at the 2017 event, including ATLFF’s signature mid-week event, SOUND + VISION, which took place at 787 Windsor.
From nearly 40 films with production or filmmaker ties to Georgia to anniversary-themed editions of beloved annual ATLFF events like Food on Film, the 2017 fest celebrated more than five decades of film and educational programming in the state of Georgia. The educational programming at this year’s fest was comprised of 40 Creative Conference events.