Keeping up with the films we’ve screened at the Lindsey Fest is a little like keeping up with the kids or grandkids, except for the care and feeding part. We love to see the films and their makers getting the attention they deserve at other film festivals or by getting a distribution deal, but sometimes keeping up with them is hard. So, if your film has screened at the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, drop us an email and let us know what new adventures you have had with your project.
Two of this year’s winners are expanding their audiences this week with impressive film festival showings. “My Friend Ehran” just screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and has been nominated for its Golden Gate Award. Our 2013 Best of Show winner, “Abuelas,” will screen this Saturday, May 11, at the Documentary Edge Film Festival in Wellington, New Zealand. Good Luck Khurrum M. Sultan and Afarin Eghbal on your continued success!
This year’s special event screener, the amazing documentary “Muscle Shoals,” also continues to rack up well deserved accolades. It just beat 203 other films for the Audience Choice Award at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Way to go “Muscle Shoals”!
One year ago today we lost our friend, our founder, our namesake, George Lindsey. We’ve already shared in this blog how difficult his loss has been to the festival, how we’ve tried to make decisions according to the “What Would George Do” standard. And we’ve already talked about how proud we think George would be of this year’s festival, premiering the most excellent documentary “Muscle Shoals,” welcoming filmmakers from across the globe to exhibit their work, and helping to educate a new generation of filmmakers in the art and industry he loved so well. It’s hard to find new way to express how much George’s loss means to the film festival that carries his name.
A few days from now will be the anniversary of George’s funeral. Now that was an event George would have been proud of! Ernest Borgnine honored his pal with stories, which he shared from LA on video. Ray Stevens serenaded his friend with “Everything is beautiful.” And the remaining cast members of ”Hee Haw” sang him out with their own little pop culture treasure. It seems fitting to remember George today as those friends honored him after his death; George always said you had to exercise your funny bone! Click on the picture to remember George with us (and pay close attention at about the 2 minute mark!)
This week, the Lindsey Film Fest will begin taking submissions for next year’s film competition. It’s a little like Christmas for us; each submission is a gift that we are both honored and surprised to receive.
Some of them come from old friends, filmmakers whose faith in us keeps them submitting their work year after year. A film festival has to work very hard to prove its integrity to the artists seeking to have their films exhibited. All festivals require a submission fee, and independent filmmakers are working with very limited financial resources; decisions on which festivals to submit to are based in part on which festivals will treat judge their films professionally and fairly in the competition process. The Lindsey Festival is always conscious of this, and we are proud to have so many filmmakers trust us with their projects year after year.
We are just as honored when filmmakers select the Lindsey Fest for the first time. As a small, university sponsored festival, we have to work hard to compete with the bigger named, bigger city festivals for submissions; part of that work over the years has been to prove that professionalism wrapped in Southern Hospitality can make up for size and name, and to show that the films always come first at our festival. We must be doing something right because new filmmakers tell us time and time again how another filmmaker recommended our festival for its special treatment of each filmmaker and submission.
As we begin the submission process for the 2014 George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, we eagerly anticipate hearing from old friends and making new ones; it’s our Christmas in May!
When our organizers aren’t busy preparing to exhibit films at the Lindsey Fest, some of them are making their own films which screen and compete at other festivals. Festival Co-chair Jason Flynn has directed a music video shot by UNA grad Tyler Martin featuring an original song, “American Dream,”
written and performed by Charlton James, who manages Lindsey Fest screenings. Their film is currently competing for the Audience Award
in the Freestyle Life Film Exhibition.
Jason Flynn is the head of the Film and Digital Media program at UNA, and Charlton James is a theatre professor. By making films that compete in festivals, they show UNA students that creating art (film, music, and/or theatre) is an ongoing pursuit requiring much dedication to the art. Working with a UNA alum on this film testifies to the type of support regularly given to their students by these professors.
The Lindsey Film Festival is lucky to work with these dedicated professions. Do yourselves a favor and take a look at “American Dream.”
And if you want to vote in the completion, t
hat would be pretty great also.
When it seems like there is only bad news and worse news, it’s good to find something we can all cheer about. If you were at this year’s festival, you will remember our youngest filmmaker, Gerry Orz, whose film “Day of Silence” won our Audience Choice Award. If you did not attend this year’s festival, you missed an opportunity to meet this caring, passionate, and engaged young man (11 years old!) who turned his movie camera on as a way to turn bullying off. This week, Gerry was quite busy meeting with the Los Angeles School Board about coordinating a “Day of Silence” against bullying event, but he took time out to pick up his newest film festival award, the “Making a Difference in the World” award at the Universe Multicultural Film Festival, which Gerry earned for his newest film, “Born to Bully.”
Gerry’s films are available on YouTube; do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to watch “Day of Silence, Episode 1,” “Day of Silence, Episode 2,”
or “Born to Bully.”
After a week of so much bad news, Gerry’s films will give you a warm and hopeful start to the weekend! You can also see his Lindsey Fest Q&A
on YouTube. Congratulations Gerry! And keep fighting the good fight!
One of the last opportunities the University of North Alabama had to honor alum George Lindsey was through the building and dedication of the George S. Lindsey Theatre, a black box theatre that fulfilled a long-time dream and very large need of UNA’s Music and Theatre department.
George would be very proud of how the theatre bearing his name has been used for the past year. Shortly after it was opened for use, the UNA Summer Theatre program took up residence, staging “A Streetcar Named Desire” with visiting stars Elaine Hendrix and Myk Watford, “Tuna Does Vegas,” and the “Devised Theatre Project”. During the past school year, such diverse theatrical productions as “6 Characters in Search of an Author,” “A Winter’s Tale,” and “No Exit” have been staged at the black box, as well as musical productions and fundraisers for theatre students traveling to China this summer.
George Lindsey’s career as an actor began on the stage at UNA, he trained in New York at the prestigious American Theatre Wing in New York, and he graced the Broadway stage before making his move to television and film. He loved to talk about his experiences in the theatre, and George would love knowing that others, both professionals and students, are accumulating their own personal stories on a stage that bears his name.
This week, the Music and Theatre departments will join for a performance of “Orfeo ed Euridice,” and soon the George S. Lindsey Theatre will be abuzz with Summer Theatre activity, helping to keep alive the memory of a UNA graduate from Jasper, Alabama.
For information on events at the George S. Lindsey Theatre, check the schedule at http://www.una.edu/music-theatre/
We met our goal and had a sold out house for last night's premiere of "Muscle Shoals." UNA's Norton Auditorium holds 1650 people, and the audience was wonderful! But then, it's easy to be a good audience when you are watching a film that tells "the rest of the story." Most of our guests were from the Shoals, and most were hearing parts of the Muscle Shoals music history for the first time as the film touched on elements not always included when the area's history is discussed. And the music was more than amazing! To have the film followed by a Q&A led by John Paul White, and made up of the film's cinematographer Anthony Arendt, Rick Hall of Fame Studios, and muscians David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, and Spooner Oldham just capped off the evening's magic. The Lindsey Festival will always be thankful for the opportunity to premiere this beautiful and important film!
The last few hours before the festival kicks off are always the hardest. It doesn't matter how many times you check and double check the to-do list, there is always the certainty that something has been forgotten; you just hope it isn't something vital! That's where we are right now as we prepare for the official start of the festival, just 90 minutes from now at FloBama. Once the first guest is welcomed, however, the fear of what's forgotten will lift and be replaced by three days of the satisfaction that comes with seeing a filmmaker watch his or her film on screen, or the satisfaction of watching an audience member see his or her very first independent film and realize a whole new world of art is waiting to be enjoyed. Those are the moments we work for all year, and we're excited they will be happening in just a few hours now. We'll be stopping here frequently during the festival to share with you folks who won't be able to join us. Stay tuned.
Those of you who attended our festival kick-off party last year know we have a particular fondness for cake, especially when it is made and decorated by the very talented Harley Williams, owner of Sugar on Top in Downtown Florence, Alabama.
If you aren’t from around here, you might still be familiar with Harley’s talent from her appearance last fall on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. The Walking Dead cake Harley made for last year’s festival clearly shows why she was picked to compete in the television competition – she has major cake skills!
The Walking Dead cake took on a life of its own. Michael Rooker was so impressed that he took the severed sugar-art hand from the cake and carried it around in a cooler for months. From the looks of the picture with Michael and his sugar hand, he eventually found some very entertaining way to make use of it.
Harley will be surprising us with another cake for this year’s kick-off party, which begins at 5pm this Thursday, February 28, at FloBama in Downtown Florence. Be there for your slice of the sugar!
If you’ve checked out our news page, and we hope you have, you might wonder about the picture of the very lovely Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, the one where she is beaming from ear to ear and holding what appears to be a large, round, pointed stick.
For a select group of scholars that “stick” represents a very significant accomplishment. Mary Ellen is a member of the Whedon Studies Association, an international group of scholars studying the works of writer/producer/director Joss Whedon, who brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and The Avengers, to name a few. At last summer’s biennial conference of the Whedon Studies Association, Mary Ellen was awarded top prize for best academic paper, which looked at the disabilities of various Whedon characters. The picture of Mary Ellen was taken shortly after receiving the honor, which is awarded in the form of a very large vampire stake.
The joy shown in her smile is actually very typical for Mary Ellen, who works for the Children’s Media Project in New York, where she is the director of education. It only takes a few minutes with her to know she has brings a passionate joy to her work and her life, and the Lindsey Festival is very excited to share this with the Florence Middle schoolers who Mary Ellen will lead in a filmmaking workshop this Friday. If you see Mary Ellen during the festival, take a few moments to chat with her; it’s a good bet some of that happiness will rub off on you!