Article By: Denise Ray
The 2022 Georgia Film Festival will be held this fall on the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Gainesville Campus. It will highlight films made in Georgia and/or produced by Georgia-based filmmakers.
Now in its sixth year, the festival will be held Sept. 16-17 in the Film & Digital Media building. Tickets are available on the festival website.
“It’s really important that a state that it is getting as much attention and business from Hollywood as Georgia is, be able to develop our own filmmakers,” James Mackenzie, co-executive director of the festival, said. “We have a different perspective coming from Georgia. It’s important for us to find ways to showcase that, and the Georgia Film Festival is a very, very good venue for anyone from the Peach State.”
Mackenzie is a UNG assistant professor of film and digital media, associate director of film, and director of the Film in Italy study abroad program. He co-chairs the event with Dr. Jeff Marker, director of UNG’s School of Communication, Film & Theatre.
“Our mission is to support indie film and emerging filmmakers of all backgrounds. We’re proud to be one of the few festivals in the state whose focus is highlighting homegrown talent, and we get to showcase our own students’ work in the process,” Marker said. “It’s a fun celebration of cinematic storytelling for the audience and a vehicle for filmmakers to represent their work.”
It’s really important that a state that it is getting as much attention and business from Hollywood as Georgia is, be able to develop our own filmmakers.
co-executive director of the festival, UNG assistant professor of film and digital media, associate director of film, and director of the Film in Italy study abroad program
The festival submissions come from professional and independent filmmakers.
“One of the reasons I’m most excited about the festival is because we had a team of student programmers, led by UNG student Noah Green. The team identified the best films from a large pool of outside submissions,” Mackenzie said. “We will also have our most well-attended block, ‘Nighthawk Shorts,’ short films by UNG students.”
Green worked over the summer with the festival and described it as “a rewarding and fun experience.”
“My team and I worked hard to ensure that the festival is full of strong films that represent the heart of local independent cinema in Georgia,” Green said. “I am proud to have gotten the chance to work with such an awesome group of people on something that is so important to the film and digital media department here at UNG.”
Mackenzie said that as a filmmaker, nothing makes him happier than bringing filmmakers to campus to screen and talk about their films, meet UNG students and network.
The festival will feature several films, including “10-56,” directed by Jason Wynn, who has taught at UNG. This film is about a music composer who moves home to help his aging mother and when he does, he gets more than he bargained for, Mackenzie said.
Another presentation will be the work of Mike Pniewski, a prominent local actor who has taught courses at UNG as well. Pniewski has been involved in dozens of television series and movies, Mackenzie said.
Panels and workshops will also be part of the festival. Local students have been invited to learn about filmmaking in Georgia Sept. 16. Other events include workshops on “everything from camera to screenwriting workshops to scenic design and color grading.”
There will also be screenings of films in various genres, including “Blurring the Color Line” by Crystal Lee Kwok. The feature documentary is about a documentarian digging into her grandmother’s experience growing up Chinese in a Black neighborhood in Augusta, Georgia, during the time of Jim Crow laws.
“Halloween to Forget,” a comedy by high school student Sam Morgan, portrays a couple’s plan to have their first kiss with each other on Halloween, but they are continually foiled by trick-or-treaters and unwelcome guests will also be screened.