Knights dueling over a lost cause, a post-apocalyptic search for a secretive book, and a good old fashioned chase scene. Audience members were treated to a variety of debut short films at the Fourth Annual Statesboro Film Festival Thursday evening.
With nine films in the line-up and about 150 people in attendance, the festival presented a night of local cinema by amateur film makers at the Averitt Center for Arts.
Top honors of the festival went to Brian Graves’ production, “Save As…,” a film about accepting death through the doldrums of everyday life. In the film, actor Michael Czech’s daily grind at the office is interrupted when he receives a mysterious message from his computer and is met by Jesus Christ waiting on the other side of the screen.
“I came up with the idea last summer, and I knew it was a film I wanted to make, a film I believed in, and when I produced it I really didn’t have a good venue for showing the film and was thrilled when I heard about this event,” Graves said about his Best Film-winning entry.
Graves, who is an assistant professor in Georgia Southern’s Communication Arts Department, said he has made films for eight years now and he was excited about premiering his film to an audience.
“It feels wonderful, I feel grateful to the Statesboro Herald, to the Averitt Center, to the sponsors for putting on this event,” he said. “It really means a lot to me, and I’m sure to the other film makers as well. We appreciate having a place to show our work. It’s been a great night.”
Graves was impressed by all the work submitted by the local directors, and spoke about how proud he was of his actors and crew.
“The film is only two and a half minutes long, but it was about two and half months of editing … It’s wonderful to win a prize, but it was really a prize to me to work with the actors and getting into the flow of the film with them, and losing all track of time because we were so immersed in working on the film,” he said.
A documentary by Tracy Mallary, "Twelve Hours," won the Viewer's Choice Award, garnering more than 3,500 votes cast by online by viewers prior to the festival. The film focused on the impact of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the local community in Bulloch County and its fight against cancer.
“I wanted to do something different and I wanted to do a documentary,” Mallary said. “Relay for Life has been very big in my life, my mother passed away from cancer, and a lot of those people [sponsors for Relay for Life] have supported me, and I wanted to give something back to them and let the people of Bulloch County know what Relay for Life is really about.”
Georgia Southern student Michael McFarland took home Best Director for his film “Exit Easy.” In the movie, a young woman takes to the college night life in order to find the perfect victim for a quick score as an unsuspecting frat boy falls into a trap that costs him more than just a hangover.
The Best Cinematography award went to Matthew Emmer’s music video for Larry Barker’s "Savannah Memories.” The video featured an older man as he relives his memories of a lost love.
For Best Editing, Statesboro High junior Beeka Regassa’s “Soundproof,” a film that described music as being the best escape, took home the award.
The festival is hosted by the Statesboro Herald, and sponsored by the Averitt Center for the Arts, Farmer's Home Furniture, Millhouse Steakhouse and Gailey Trophy. The grand prize for the Viewer's Choice Award was a flat screen TV from Farmer's Furniture. All winners also received a trophy.
Refreshments were provided before the festival and during intermission by Millhouse Steakhouse.
The festival is produced by Statesboro Herald videographer Matt Bankhead, who brought the idea for a film festival to the Herald in 2008.
“We had fewer submissions this year than in the past, and our biggest drive for next year is to get people interested in submitting even more films …t he production quality of the films continues to improve every year and I was really impressed with the work done tonight,” Bankhead said.
Bankhead said he sees the overall quality of the work in Statesboro increasing from year to year.
“Beeka Regassa is a prime example,” he said. “He entered his first film when he was in the eighth grade, and the film he entered this year won him an award [Best Video Editing], you can actually see him improving, how serious he is taking it, and how he’s picked up his game.”
Bankhead said he encourages all future film makers to submit their work for the 2013 Statesboro Film Festival.