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3x3 Three Minutes, Three Questions Morgan Hicks & Jason Suel Fayetteville Film Fest

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"The intent of the first film fest was simple: 1) Raise awareness that filmmaking is an art and should be included in the tapestry of all the other artistic expressions that exist in Northwest Arkansas. 2) Champion the cause of bringing film and creating film in Arkansas and foster an environment that makes that cause more accessible."

So says Jason Suel, the current secretary of the Fayetteville Film Festival Board of Directors and one of its founders.

FAQ

Fayetteville Film Festival

WHEN — Tuesday through Sept. 16

WHERE — Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, 1 E. Center St.; Stage 18, 18 E. Center St.; UARK Bowl, 644 W. Dickson St.; Chancellor Hotel, 70 N. East Ave.

COST — VIP pass, $40; one-day pass Wednesday, $15; one-day pass Friday, $20; one-day pass Saturday, $20; individual films/film blocks range from free to $7

INFO — fayettevillefilmfest.org

"What has changed is that, since the first fest, we have seen an explosion of films being created in Arkansas and in Northwest Arkansas specifically," he says. "We attribute that growth to the fact that we brought filmmakers here with the intention of screening their films at our fest, and as a byproduct, they fell in love with this community."

This marks the festival's ninth year, but it's had some challenges along the way -- including changing its name twice. It was founded as the 540 Film Fest, then became the Offshoot Film Fest and last year, "we took a leap of faith and changed the name again to Fayetteville Film Fest," Suel says. "We changed the name because we think that Fayetteville is an amazing place to be and a great location for a festival," adds Morgan Hicks, this year's executive director. "The original purpose and goal of the fest has remained the same through the years -- to celebrate the art of film and filmmakers. Each year, we have an amazing mix of films that were made in or by Arkansas and films from all over the country and all over the world. We strive to create a place for filmmakers to showcase their work and for relationships to be forged and strengthened within the filmmaking community.

"We also try to pick high quality films for our audience."

This year, Hicks says, "we had over 200 submissions, and we were able to create a schedule of 56 films that offer such an amazing variety that we know there's something for everybody including feature films, shorts, animated films, foreign films, special interest films and documentaries."

Here, Hicks and Suel pause for a moment before the five-day festival begins Tuesday to answer a few more questions for What's Up!

Q. How does the Bentonville Film Festival fit in with the Fayetteville Film Festival?

Hicks: As a smaller fest that is not as focused on celebrities, we are able to create a more intimate experience for our festival goers. We do have filmmakers coming in from all over the country, and we're excited to welcome them to our area, but we treat all of our local filmmakers with the same level of respect. From an audience perspective, instead of screening multiple events and multiple locations at the same time, all of our festival goers are together at each event, which creates a really fun festival-going communal experience.

Q. What do you hope the FFF brings to Northwest Arkansas?

Suel: Awareness. Fun. Community. Top-quality film. Collaboration opportunities. Engaged conversation. Creativity. Idea sparking.

Q. What's the one thing you hope happens/changes between now and the next festival?

Hicks: Next year will be our 10th anniversary! We have already started planning some extra special events to celebrate that milestone; many festivals don't make it to 10 years old. We hope for more people in our area to attend the festival events and support our local filmmaking community. And I personally hope to have an even harder time deciding what to include in the festival next year because our Arkansas filmmakers are creating too many amazing films to include them all in a single week!

Suel: We're almost there... but I would hope that between now and then, we would be a community that supports filmmaking happening in Northwest Arkansas year-round. Because of FFF and other festivals, folks are finding out that Northwest Arkansas is a region that can support filmmaking, we have passionate professionals we can put to work on films, and a strong talent base who can also be involved. By continuing both FFF and other regional festivals, more filmmakers will come, see, and come back to create their art -- in addition to the local and regional talent pool being inspired to continue honing their craft.

-- Becca Martin-Brown

bmartin@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 09/08/2017

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