The Ogeechee International History Film Festival will make its debut in Statesboro Friday and Saturday as the very first film festival in the United States dedicated solely to historical films.
This festival has been a long-time dream of Georgia Southern Associate Professor of History Dr. Michael Scott Van Wagenen, who always has been interested in historical films. It has gone from dream to reality, thanks to the combined efforts of various organizations in the Statesboro community.
“I’ve watched festivals as cultural phenomena in the United States just take off and kept an eye out on that history festival to eventually show up and it didn’t, so I decided to do it myself,” Van Wagenen said.
Featured during the festival will be “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive,” a film by acclaimed Boston-based filmmaker Eric Stange, who also will lead a discussion after the film’s premiere.
Van Wagenen has been an avid fan of Stange’s work for many years, and invited him to join the festival as a featured guest. Statesboro residents will be one of the first audiences to see “Poe: Buried Alive” before it premieres on PBS as part of the American Masters series.
Visitors to the festival will be welcomed at 6 p.m. Friday at the Averitt Center for the Arts’ Emma Kelly Theater, with a screening of the Poe film at 6:15. Stange will speak afterward, and will accept questions regarding the film. A catered reception will round out the evening.
Admission is $10 to the film screening and discussion and $17 for the screening, discussion and catered reception by Millhouse Steakhouse. Tickets are available online at ogeecheefilmfestival.eventbrite.com. Also, you can purchase tickets in person at the Statesboro Herald office on Proctor St. and the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau on South Main St.
The event was organized by the Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Statesboro Herald and Georgia Southern University.
The film festival called for film submissions from filmmakers worldwide on a variety of historical subjects, with the conditions being that submissions contain valid historical research and promote the accuracy of historical facts.
Two original film submissions come from recent graduates of the Georgia Southern public history program, who both made films focused on local topics as part of their graduate non-thesis projects.
Both students took film class with Van Wagenen and produced a documentary about the history of downtown Statesboro, which inspired them to make their own films.
On Saturday, the festival will begin at Georgia Southern University’s Russell Union Theater at 12:30 p.m. with film screenings of “Bonaventure: From Plantation to Monument,” “Sophia’s Schoolhouse,” “Frida Kahlo: A Documentary,” “Reconstructing Hawthorne” and “Discovering Dave: Spirit Captured in Clay.” At 3 p.m., a documentary panel discussion, featuring Stange, George Wingard, Ryan Nobel, Daniel Handcock, Ian Hamilton, Sarah Napier and Sophia Sineath will be held.
A screening of “Apache Baskets” will begin at 4:15 p.m., followed by a Q & A with Nobel. At 5:30, a reality television discussion will be led by Eric Van Wagenen and Michal Van Wagenen.
Admission is free to Saturday’s films
The festival will conclude on Saturday evening with an awards ceremony and closing reception, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau. Admission to the awards ceremony is $10.