FORT SMITH — Plans for the second Fort Smith International Film Festival are underway, with the River Valley Film Society holding a press conference Thursday to announce details of the summer event and what the “Borderlands” theme means.
The first festival received 396 submissions from 43 countries, with more than 130 short films, music videos, documentaries and feature films screened for participants.
“I love movies, so being able to share my love of movies with the town of Fort Smith and the river valley — it’s just a joy to have people come to see movies they wouldn’t never seen,” Brandon Chase Goldsmith, chairman of the film company and executive director of the film festival, said.
Goldsmith said the film festival will take place August 26 and 27 at Temple Live, 200 N. 11th St. He said Temple Live was chosen because the historic theater building will provide an all-in-one movie experience , with room for multiple projections. , Q&A panels, workshops and a lounge.
Submissions open via Film Freeway on February 4 and run through the end of June. This year’s categories are People of Color, Indigenous, Music Videos, High School and College Student Submissions, Documentaries, Short Films and Feature Films.
“So basically we have a whole range of films that we’re looking for, and throughout the process we try to keep our entry fees very accessible,” Goldsmith said. “They only go from $10 to $25 for very late registrations on our fee. But students up to late registrations are free, because we really want to encourage student participation in the festival.”
Goldsmith said the theme is both a nod to Fort Smith’s history as a frontier town and a way filmmakers and cinephiles live their lives — on the borders between different aspects of life like l age and ethnicity – allowing a range of experiences and perspectives to be presented.
“Film has a way of showing where those borders are overcome, or where people bump into borders. That’s where creativity happens, it’s within those borders, and movies bring those experiences on the big screen,” he explained.
“To me, that means we’re on the edge of what’s possible. We’re on the edge of what can be,” said Jeff Smith, a member of the film company’s board of directors and the company’s chief financial officer. production company TGE Global Entertainment. “And when we’re sitting at that threshold, when you’re sitting at that line, that’s when the dream can happen. To me, that’s one of the beautiful things about cinema. That’s the dream of someone, someone’s vision, and they can tell a story through that dream.”
Smith said members of the TGE were invited to be keynote speakers at last year’s film festival, which led to a partnership with the film company to produce a film about the federal court deputy. ‘Arkansas, Bass Reeves.
TGE is also the company working on the construction of a multi-million dollar soundstage and film studio at Chaffee Crossing.
“That’s exactly why film festivals like this are so important to economies like Fort Smith,” Smith said.
Goldsmith noted that the festival also strengthens the local creative economy by creating jobs and showcasing regional talent to the world.
Talicia Richardson, executive director of 64.6 Downtown, explained that the creative economy involves the material and financial support needed to provide art in the community.
“When you buy paint, materials and equipment from local suppliers, it supports our community. And most of the time, it’s local dollars. When we pay for live artists to come performing at our various venues downtown, as well as across the city, we’re fueling our creative economy,” said Richardson.
“By bringing another level of art to our community with the international film festival, we are expanding our reach in the community,” she added. “The young talent, the seasoned talent that is available in our community is here. It’s time for us, through this film festival, to bring them out.”
Richardson said the festival would not be possible without the help of various sponsors and volunteers.
Arvest Bank has again donated $10,000 to be the main sponsor of the film festival, as well as a lighting kit to the film club at the Future School of Fort Smith to hopefully increase attendance for students at the festival.
“Everything we do is for the community, and dollars are so vital from an economic perspective just to grow your whole community,” said Trace Andres, vice president of commercial banking at Arvest. “And really, a festival like this brings such diversity, new ideas, and a new thought process that’s created. For all those reasons, it’s just great to be a part of it, and we appreciate everything. you are doing.”
Goldsmith said he hopes the covid numbers will drop by August to allow more people to attend, but the film company intends to continue offering tickets online so people around the world can watch without having to travel. He added that once submissions open next month, the film company will provide more information on a series of pre-festival films in Fort Smith and Van Buren that will feature some of last year’s submissions.
“One of the things with cinema and independent film is that we have to build an audience,” Goldsmith said. “Plus, they’re just fun to watch.”