Mark Stolaroff is an independent producer and the founder of No Budget Film School, a series of classes specifically designed for the no-budget filmmaker. His most recent project, the self-financed low-budget feature film Pig written and directed by Henry Barrial, recently played a string of festivals–13 in only six weeks. He personally attended eight of those festivals in four weeks. Mark graciously agreed to take some photos and write up articles about this series of film festivals for The Weird Review. Here is his report on the Atlanta Film Festival. For more about Mark check out the links at the end of his article
The 36th Atlanta Film Festival, one of the oldest fests in the country, commenced Friday, March 23rd to an enthusiastic local community, promising an exciting range of local films, festival favorites, and soon-to-be-distributed larger films. The capacity crowd for opening night was treated to Kat Coiro‘s “chick” comedy Life Happens, starring (and co-written and co-produced by) Krysten Ritter (Don’t Trust The B in Apt. 23) and Kate Bosworth, with many familiar faces in smaller, but stand-out roles, like Rachel Bilson, Jason Biggs, Seymour Cassel, George Stults, and in an especially hilarious turn, Justin Kirk.
Patrons at the Landmark Midtown, where most films were playing, had to brave run-over crowds and a lack of parking caused by studio juggernaut The Hunger Games, which occupied one of the few screens not dominated by the festival. For those interested in something other than what the studios had to offer, the festival delivered.
On tap opening weekend were Holly Mosher‘s well-traveled doc Bonsai People, about Muhammad Yunus‘ micro finance programs in Bangladesh; former Atlanta resident David Zeiger‘s narrative feature debut Sweet Old World (receiving it’s world premiere); standout Sundance film Compliance, directed by former Atlantan Craig Zobel; and of course my mystery/sci-fi feature Pig. Perhaps the most heavily anticipated film of opening weekend, however, was a little 51 minute documentary about local legend Anita Rae Strange, AKA Blondie. Blondie, as she’s known by frat rats, rednecks, stock brokers, and celebrities, is a now 55 year old exotic dancer–famous for being able to crush beer cans between her boobs–who has been inhabiting the seedy stage of the Clermont Lounge for some 30 years now. Shot in a style similar to doc master Errol Morris, filmmakers Jon and Brantly Watts have fashioned a humorous yet touching portrait of a somewhat damaged, but incredibly resilient larger-than-life personality. The sold-out Plaza theater audience cheered during the film several times and then many more times during the emotional Q&A, which featured the titular lady herself (no pun intended).
Like many of the best festivals I’ve attended, the AFF treated filmmakers and patrons to parties every night and a standing filmmaker “lodge,” the Independent bar next door to the theater. Hospitality representatives went out of their way to make sure that each filmmaker was well taken care of. Projection in the several films I attended was consistently good and the audiences were generous. Must be that Southern Hospitality!
“PIG” – A FILM BY HENRY BARRIAL
“Highly recommended! Along the lines of Nolan’s Memento.” – The Horror Zine
“A brilliant sci-fi thriller…the most
provocative film I saw at the Palm Springs Film
Festival.” – Desert Star Weekly
OFFICIAL SELECTION AT OVER 30 FILM FESTIVALS
WINNER! BEST FEATURE FILM – SCI-FI-LONDON
WINNER! BEST FEATURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST SCREENPLAY – ATHENS SCI-FI
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – SHRIEKFEST
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER! BEST FEATURE FILM – THRILLER! CHILLER!
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – SHOCKERFEST
WINNER! BEST EDITING – BOSTON SCI-FI
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