Sunday, September 9, 2018
The 2018 Fayetteville Film Fest kicks off on Sept. 20 with a rockin' street party -- complete with musicians, street performers and visual artists on hand -- to celebrate its 10th anniversary. That's quite a milestone for a festival that was originally intended to be a one-time event. Executive Director Morgan Hicks chalks up the success -- and the longevity -- of the festival to the unquenchable thirst for the arts in Northwest Arkansas.
"We have, in our region, the opportunity to see live music, all of the time," Hicks notes. "Amazing musicians, amazing theater, amazing visual arts -- we have a real appetite for that throughout the year. And I think that the films that we're able to see are typically blockbuster films at the cinema. When the festival started, originally, people were really excited about the opportunity to see independent films [that they otherwise would not have the chance to see]. We're a community that loves films."
Fayetteville Film Fest
WHEN — Sept. 20-22
WHERE — Locations vary: see schedule for details
COST — $80, VIP All Access pass; $50, Film Lover Pass; $5-$7, single movie tickets; some workshops and events free
INFO — fayettevillefilmfest.org
Over a decade, the festival has grown -- and changed names a few times -- but the mission has remained the same: to give the movie buffs of Northwest Arkansas an opportunity to screen the high-caliber independent and studio releases one might see at film festivals in more urban areas.
"There's the opportunity to see the same kinds of films you could see if you're able to go to Sundance, or Tribeca -- and you won't have to pay the hundreds of dollars you would have to pay to go to those bigger festivals," says Hicks.
In fact, she says, the organizers of the festival work hard to keep ticket prices accessible.
"The reason we're creating this festival is for the community," says Hicks. "We don't want to keep anyone from coming. We want to invite everyone. Most of the tickets are 5 or 7 dollars, or a $50 pass will get you into all of the movies and workshops."
In its 10th year, the festival has been in existence long enough to see the ripple effect it's had on the local film-making community.
"We see people meeting at the Fayetteville Film Fest," she says. "We see them getting excited to collaborate, and we see films being born at the fest and coming to fruition. That community is really important to us, having that option for people to socialize, get to know each other's work and getting to collaborate. Later, we get to be the beneficiary of that collaboration as they get to show the work they're doing at the festival. That's really exciting to us."
This year, she says, the fest will take more than a passive role in getting films made: The organization is introducing the Fayetteville Film Prize, designed to help aspiring filmmakers get their ideas off the ground.
"We're going to have a pitch contest," says Hicks. "We'll have 33 filmmakers lined up to pitch their films. They'll come in, and they'll have four minutes to pitch to a panel of film industry professionals and distributors. The panel will pick one filmmaker to win a cash prize of $2,000, and there will be other perks, like casting assistance from the Actors Casting Agency and location scouting services."
The $2,000 will be used as funding to get a short film off the ground, says Hicks, with the only requirement that it be shot in Northwest Arkansas.
"They'll make the film in the next year, and that film would have a guaranteed slot in the next year's Fayetteville Film Festival," she says.
Hicks also notes that this year's schedule includes a whopping 86 films.
"There's an insane amount of variety," she says. "Films that were made by a 10-year-old, films made by Academy Award winners, films with people that you will recognize from the grocery store and films from people you'll recognize from 'Saturday Night Live' or 'House of Cards.' The films are all challenging, exciting, interesting, funny, beautiful. We have documentaries, experimental films, animated films, horror, science fiction. If you like films -- and I don't know anyone who doesn't watch films -- and you have a very special thing that you like, you're going to be able to find it."
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