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Savannah Film Festival

Hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Savannah Film Festival features the best in independent and innovative film from around the world. From feature-length films to two-minute shorts, the annual festival presents a full range of cinematic creativity from both award-winning professionals and emerging student filmmakers.


Savannah Film Festival; A Must!

SCAD Presents 18th Annual Savannah Film Festival

Photo Credit - Getty Images for SCAD

Savannah is a city attracting a lot of attention in recent years, not just for its rich history and old world charm but for its growing film industry as well. The city itself has played a main character in dozens of films including GLORY (1989), FORREST GUMP (1994), SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT (1995) and MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL (1997), to name a few, and it has found its place in the setting of many great novels including “High Noon” by Nora Roberts, “Haunted Savannah” by James Caskey, “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson and and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt. For the last 18 years, the city has held one of the nations’ most important boutique film festivals- the Savannah Film Festival- hosted by the prestigious SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).

A few months ago, I had never heard of SCAD nor visited Savannah; now, it is a personal favorite and must attend. This year’s 18th edition of the festival took place from October 24th – 31st. Halloween here was an unforgettable experience in this already famously haunted city where every colonial building and public square has a ghost story of some kind in its place. There are numerous haunted and graveyard tours around the city, and the film festival screens a selection of horror films for the occasion; this year included Coppola's epic BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA at the Lucas Theater.

For me, Savannah is one of the richest cultural experiences I have ever had while traveling in the USA and visiting a film festival.

I asked other gusts of the festival what their reactions were:

Composer/Filmmaker Carla Patullo who had her short film CINDERELLA in competition at the festival said, “I had an awesome time at the Savannah Film Festival! They do a great job showcasing all of the films in the best way possible. The theaters were beautiful and I loved that the festival is connected to SCAD--the students at the screenings brought a young and creative presence.”

Writer/Director Paige Morrow Kimball who had her short film PLAY DATE in competition at the festival said “I had a great time at The Savannah Film Fest…it was an amazing experience! They were extremely organized, the films were top notch and the audiences were so GREAT! I felt that the Sav Film Fest truly valued me as a Filmmaker. They really embraced my film and their hospitality was second to NONE. I can’t wait to go back!”

Actress Elizabeth Olsen of I SAW THE LIGHT said “It's amazing! I've never been to this festival before and I didn't realize it was so much based around the university. I went to a liberal arts school to study acting so I've been in the shoes of everyone who is skipping class. To me, to have the opportunity for people to come and talk about their experiences- whether its producers, directors, costume designers, actors- it's just so cool. It's a more comfortable environment. You don't feel like you're out for judgment. You feel like you're out for conversation and that feels really nice. That feels protective for an artist or creative person."

While the film festival and SCAD University are reasons to visit Savannah in their own right, the city is a living museum and gastronomical experience, making this international film festival one not to be missed. The scrumptious and famous southern cooking can be found in restaurants sprawled around the city. The festival itself hosted meals at the historic Marshall House and The Old Pink House, which are quaint colonial homes fusing unique southern cooking with international flair.

About the 18th Annual Savannah Film Festival: In attendance were: Alfie Allen, Meg Ryan and Olivia Wilde who received honors. The festival presented “An Evening with Saoirse Ronan”; “Dixieland,” “Ithaca,” “Legend,” “Meadowland” and “Spotlight” as Gala Screenings. The festival took place in downtown Savannah, Georgia, and ran from Saturday, Oct. 24 to Saturday, Oct. 31.

Actress Meg Ryan showcased her directorial debut film ITHACA as well as received a Lifetime Achievement Award. After the screening of her film, which the actress declared had been her largest audience for the film so far, Meg Ryan attended a Qa&A session on the stage alongside many of the film’s other cast. Actress/Producer Olivia Wilde attended the festival to promote her new film MEADOWLAND, which screened at the festival. Director Reed Morano was in attendance. Olivia Wilde received the Spotlight Award. HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” actor Alfie Allen received a Rising Star Award. The festival also hosted an evening with Saoirse Ronan (ATONEMENT, THE WAY BACK) after screening her latest and much talked about film BROOKLYN.

“Conversation Series” took place on panel discussions with directors, actors and other industry professionals who all spoke about their latest films and the industry itself to packed rooms of SCAD students. These included: director Marc Abraham and actress Elizabeth Olsen for I SAW THE LIGHT, director Catherine Hardwicke for MISS YOU ALREADY, director Sarah Gavron and producer Alison Owen for SUFFRAGETTE and composer David Lang for YOUTH.



DIXIELAND – “A young, recently-released and unpredictable ex-con with bad luck, and a sexy, listless girl-next-door with a troubled family, become trapped in a downward spiral of crime and obsessive love, as they try to ditch their dead-end town for a better life.”- Written by Anon. The film is Hank Bedford’s feature debut feature, distributed by IFC Films. Director: Hank Bedford. Cast: Chris Zylka, Riley Keough, Faith Hill and RJ Mitte.

ITHACA – “Fourteen-year-old Homer Macauley is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister and his 4-year-old brother, Ulysses. And so it is that as spring turns to summer, 1942, Homer Macauley delivers messages of love, hope, pain... and death... to the good people of Ithaca. And Homer Macauley will grapple with one message that will change him forever. Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan's 1943 novel, The Human Comedy, ITHACA is a coming-of-age story about the exuberance of youth, the abruptness of change, the sweetness of life, the sting of death, and the sheer goodness that lives in each and every one of us.” - Written by Erik Jendresen. Meg Ryan’s debut feature is distributed by The Exchange. Director: Meg Ryan. Cast: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard, Jack Quaid, Melanie Griffith, Alex Neustaedter and Christine Nelson.

LEGEND – “The film tells the story of the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history, and their organised crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s.” –IMDB. The film is distributed by Universal Pictures. Director: Brian Helgeland. Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald and Taron Egerton.

MEADOWLAND– “In the hazy aftermath of an unimaginable loss, Sarah and Phil come unhinged, recklessly ignoring the repercussions. Phil starts to lose sight of his morals; Sarah takes off on a potentially disastrous journey, falling deeper into her own fever dream.” –IMDB. The film is distributed by Cinedigm. Director: Reed Morano. Cast: Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Elisabeth Moss, Ty Simpkins, John Leguizamo, Kevin Corrigan and Merritt Wever.

SPOTLIGHT – “The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.” –IMDB. The film is distributed by Open Road Films. Director: Tom McCarthy. Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci.

For more information about the 18th Savannah Film Festival, read here:

For more information about SCAD, visit the official SCAD blog or


-Article by Vanessa McMahon

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About Savannah Film Festival

Bolda Sheila Lynne
(Savannah College of Art and Design)

Hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Savannah Film Festival features the best in independent and innovative film from around the world. From feature-length films to two-minute shorts, the annual festival presents a full range of cinematic creativity from both award-winning professionals and emerging student filmmakers.


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