The Atlanta Film Festival has been held annually since 1976. The festival is an Academy Award qualifying, international festival – meaning that after a film is screened in Atlanta, it can go on to be considered for an Academy Award. In 2002, The Accountant won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short after it was screened in the 2001 festival. The festival is also known for honoring the Pink Peach, an award given “to the best LGBTQ film as chosen by the Pink Peach jury,” as stated on the ATLFF website. This year’s festival also marks the resurgence of the jewel in the Atlanta cinema crown, the Plaza Theatre. Under new owner, Michael Furlinger, who took over in December of last year, the Plaza will, for the first time, serve as the primary venue for the screenings. There are also a number of new screening venues for this year’s event, including 7 Stages, the Goat Farm, Druid Hills Baptist Church and Starlight Six Drive-In.
Kristy Breneman, Features Programmer for the festival, told me through email, “I think the venue shift is a reflection of our pursuit to create a shared community experience while fulfilling our mission to lead the community in creative and cultural discovery through the moving image.”
In the debated hierarchy of Atlanta arts, film, for most people, ranks pretty low. The city gets a lot of attention for being home to the Turner and Perry conglomerates and for being the filming site for many major motion pictures, but the independent film scene is also alive and well. The Atlanta Film Festival is an opportunity for film connoisseurs and amateurs to see everything from narrative and documentary features to animated short films and music videos. This year’s festival will feature some of the best current independent and burgeoning films and directors. Here are a couple highlights, among many others, to look forward to:
A Band of Rogues – 3/17 – 4:00 pm @ Plaza Theatre (Main Screen) – A group of American musicians are stuck in Argentina after they are arrested with the possession of drugs. Told in eleven chapters, each of which coincides with a track on their album, this story follows their adventures through rehab, across the country of Argentina, and finally into Chile. 106 min.
Interior. Leather Bar. – 3/21 – 9:15 pm @ Plaza Theater (Upstairs Theatre) – In order to avoid an X rating, 40 minutes of gay S&M footage was rumored to be cut and destroyed from the 1980 film, “Cruising.” Inspired by the mythology of this controversial film, filmmakers James Franco and Travis Mathews collaborate to imagine their own lost footage. 82 min.
The Spectacular Now – 3/23 – 7:00 pm @ Plaza Theater (Main Screen) – Praised as a film that “displays a depth of feeling that’s breathtaking in its simplicity and [honesty],” closing ATLFF. Shot in Athens. Directed by Athen’s native James Ponsoldt. U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Acting – 2013 Sundance Film Festival. 95 min.
Our Nixon – 3/21 – 8:30 pm @ 7 Stages Theatre – Never before seen Super 8 home movies filmed by Richard Nixon’s closest aides – and convicted Watergate conspirators – offer a surprising and intimate new look into his Presidency. 84 min.
Good Ol’ Freda – 3/16 – 9:15 pm @ Druid Hills Baptist Church – Good Ol’ Freda tells the story of Freda Kelly, a shy Liverpudlian teenager asked to work for a young local band hoping to make it big: the Beatles. 89min.
The Institute – 3/23 – 2:30 pm @ Plaza Theatre (Upstairs Theatre) – Is it a cult? Is it a game? Or is it a life changing adventure? 91 min.
As Goes Janesville – 3/23 – 4:45 pm @ Plaza Theatre (Upstairs Theatre) – As Goes Janesville shows the front lines over the future of America’s middle class – a debate that became a battle over unions in Wisconsin. 88 min.
Short Film Blocks
This is Atlanta – 3/15 – 5:00 pm @ Plaza Theatre (Upstairs Theatre) 90 min.
Saturday Morning Cartoons – 3/16 – 11:00 am @ 7 Stages (Black Box) 60 min. Kids 12 and under are free with adult.
WonderRoot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Filmmakers Night – 3/21 – 9:30 pm @ Plaza Theatre (Main Screen) 90 min.
Touch the Puppet Head! – 3/21 – 11:00 pm @ Plaza Theater (Main Screen) 75 min.
Other Worlds – 3/24 – 4:30 pm @ 7 Stages (Black Box) 90 min.
The Atlanta Film Festival kicks-off on Friday night, March 15 with the screening of Mud at the Plaza Theater. For more screening times, festival passes or individual screening tickets, go to the Atlanta Film Festival website.