Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to head down to Savannah, Georgia for a few days for SCAD’s Savannah Film Festival. First of all, let me say I love Savannah! Although I wasn’t there long enough to explore, I fell in love with the “Southern Charm” of it (shout out to Bravo).
This was my first real film festival experience (many more to come)…although I did attend a screening of a sports doc during the Tribeca Film Festival one year while I was still living in NYC. Because of work obligations, I had to miss the first day I had planned on going to and was pretty bummed because it was a full day of panels about women in film (producers, directors, casting directors, editors, etc.)
I did get to see some really great movies, shorts and docs. First up was The Hate U Give (Directed by George Tillman, Jr. starring Amandla Stenberg). As someone all too familiar with code switching (from high school to law school to work), this movie really struck a chord with me. It’s not about being fake, but about all of those “versions” of you making up the “authentic WHOLE” me. It was also great seeing such a mixed (in terms of age demographics) crowd at the screening as the movie had a message that a lot of folks should really appreciate. The movie was well done and well acted and felt more like a documentary than a “fiction” film. Amandla (Starr) was great as well as Anthony Mackie who played a mean bad guy. The one gripe I had with the film is that I wished that there was more of a contrast with Starr’s code-switching between the cultures/environments. Overall, it was a great film (4/5 stars) with a very timely message for the masses.
I also got the chance to see some really great short films from around the world that focused on the female perspective. The themes were universal (from acceptance and the beauty standards to love and forgiveness) and all very well done. There was also the timely Believe Her about not believing a woman who had been date-raped because she had a “past”…that’s the bullshit women have to struggle with and part of the impetus of the “Me Too Movement”. My favorite short was Period. End of Sentence (which won Best Global Short Overall), a documentary about bringing sanitary napkins to poorer, rural parts of India. You really got to connect with the females who were central to the story and you wanted to know what happened next in their lives. Another one I really like was about a musician reconnecting with her homeless, musician biological father…it really tugged at the heart strings and evoked all the emotions (anger, sadness, joy, hope) and had you rooting for the father and their relationship in the end as they dealt with the themes of regret, drug addiction (which seems to be a big movie theme this year), abandonment, redemption and forgiveness and fresh starts.
The other feature film I screened was Boy Erased starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Joel Edgerton (who also directed the film). This film was also really good with some great performances (the is definitely Lucas’s year as his film “Ben is Back” as screened at the festival). In my naivety, I didn’t really that gay conversion camps were still a thing in the 2000s SMH. The Miseducation of Cameron Post starring Chloe Grace Moretz, also about gay conversion therapy also screened at the festival but I didn’t get a chance to see that one. Boy Erased had some really heartbreaking scenes like the dorm room incident that really stuck with you. I like how the film came full circle and the characters begin to come to terms with the decisions they made the consequences that were a result of that life-altering decision.
Even though a lot of the other films I really wanted to see like A Quiet Place (I know, I know, I’m really late), Green Book and If Beale Street Could Talk were sold out before I grabbed my tickets (lesson learned — buy passes early next year), I thoroughly enjoyed my #SAVFF experience and look forward to next years (and shout out the cute little art deco/glam restaurant with the great food and drinks)!