Updated: Nov 2
When I go to a film festival, I immerse in all there is to offer. It gives me a chance to experience a wide range of film and other screened content while taking in panels and casual conversations at events along the way. I just attended the 2022 SCAD Savannah Film Festival, which screened 143 films, including 53 narrative feature films, 20 documentary feature films, and 79 shorts, with eight world premieres and six U.S. premieres.
I view film and other screened content as potential bridges that connect us to ideas and other people. As a many-year participant, I know that this festival cultivates a unique setting that encourages that to happen.
So once again, for 8 days in October, I immersed myself in the SCAD Savannah Film Festival (SSFF), which by the way, is the largest university-run film festival in the world. It is presented by the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), which was founded by Paula Wallace over 40 years ago and where I am a member of their Ruskin Society after serving on their Atlanta Advisory Board.
I want to share a bit about my experience as well as the running themes that threaded through the program and of course, my recommendations.
During this 8 day festival:
I attended a total of 30 blocks of content... 18 feature films, 12 short films and 6 panel discussions. I have zero doubt that, yet again, that SSFF '22 selections will be nominated for Oscar, Golden Globe and other industry awards.
I absorbed the honoree acceptance speeches and interviews that accompanied the screenings that I attended. My deep appreciation to honorees Ron Howard, Eddie Redmayne, Miles Teller, Janelle Monáe, Jeremy Pope, Nicholas Hoult, Sadie Sink, Jonathan Majors, Henry Selick and Sandy Powell who set aside the time to share their wit and wisdom with screening audiences as well as in master classes with SCAD students. (The complete list of honorees is below.)
As always, encounters with industry professionals and others are already creating ripples. This includes time spent with SSR Member Taylor Owenby on a walkabout of the 30-acre parcel which will be the future home of KAT-5 Studios. Taylor and his partner David Patterson are the Founders of this first of a kind, sustainable, purpose-built state-of-the-art sound stage and production facility complex in Savannah.
SSFF has established itself as a stop on the road to the Academy Awards. In it's 25 years, it has screened over 150 Oscar-nominated films and honored more than 100 actors, producers, writers, filmmakers and others, including Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Emily Blunt, Salma Hayek, Holly Hunter, Oliver Stone, Aaron Sorkin, Kenneth Branagh, Miles Teller and Mahershala Ali. (Ali received the Discovery Award in 2016 for his performance in Moonlight, his first-ever award. Months later, the film won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Ali won Best Supporting Actor. (This is representative of SSFF Executive & Artistic Director Christina Routhier's track record for selecting award-winning films and honorees since the festival's inception 25 years ago.)
For this 25th anniversary, Christina and her team went all out, with an amazing lineup of films and honorees. (link to schedule with synopses)
SSFF '22 - 3 Central Themes
Of the films I experienced, I found 3 central themes. Here are the 3 themes and the films that, to me, brought each theme to life. I'd recommend every single one of them, not only for their theme and specific messages, but also for their ability to touch our hearts as well as our minds!
They're in no particular order (* denotes short films and hyperlinks take you to trailers).
Theme 1: The power of human connection, intertwined with purpose, to unite and heal
The Banshees of Inisherin
Top Gun: Maverick (yes, even in an action film;)
The Menu (anti-theme', looking at the disconnection that can happen, even to the elite)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (ditto here)
Theme 2: Cultivating a greater understanding for those who aren't like us
(In current jargon, DEI diversity equity & inclusion)