Asheville Film Fest closer, other movies sell out

On day three of the Asheville Film Festival, organizers report that four upcoming showings have sold out:

Sita Sings the Blues, Saturday, 5 p.m., Fine Arts Theatre
Stomp! Shout! Scream!, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Fine Arts Theatre
Familiar Voices, Saturday, 5:30, 35Below
Slumdog Millionaire, Sunday, 6 p.m., Fine Arts Theatre (and closing reception to follow)

Stay tuned here for more news of festival sell-outs.

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13 thoughts on “Asheville Film Fest closer, other movies sell out

  1. So What

    Wow! That is so fancy!

    Tickets to movies at a film festival SOLD OUT?!!

    What in the name of Jesus happened?

    Wait! THREE Movies sold out!

    There were actually THREE movies in that festival that attracted that much attention?!!

    Winger Dinger!

    Did L’Oreal Spokes-Robot Andy MacDowell peak her toe out of the shower and promise to appear or is there another HUGE appearance by the amazing actress Jennifer Tilly?

    Clearly there must be another draw.

    Perhaps there will be a special surprise appearance by Robbie Benson (although never making it to L’Oreal Spokes-bot fame or to Late Night TV Poker Shows he apparently at some point
    “Jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”)

    Jesus Asheville!

    This Alledged Film Festival is yet one more example of how wrong this city is going.

    It is not enough to do it.

    You have to do it right.

    AND THANK GOD THAT EYESORE OF A CVS IS GONE FROM DOWNTOWN!

    I can’t even imagine if next year a real Celeb like, say, Linda Lavin was here and had to see something like that blight!

  2. Ken Hanke

    Well, let’s hope “So what” feels all better after that constructive outburst.

  3. Dionysis

    Well, I enjoyed the film festival. I chose to see ‘The Caller’ at the Diana Wortham Theater, and found it intriquing. I also liked the student film shown beforehand, but did not like a short film from Hungary (can’t recall the title but it was one depressing experience). I only wish I could have seen a couple more.

  4. Jimbo

    Well, no offense Ken, but amid all the sarcasm he’s got a bit of a point. A film festival is a marketing vehicle first and foremost. It’s a tool to market the industry and the town in which it’s held.

    This festival is not at all effective in that it tends to alienate many of the legitimate production professionals in the regional industry in favor of catering to demands or aspirations of local film buffs, enthusiasts, and wannabes who are not experienced industry professionals. This is not true entirely across the board, but to a large degree.

    It seems to simply be a progression of the same type of thinking that brought the failed effort that was the Asheville Film Commission. A poorly orchestrated effort to involve non relevant, unqualified people in a redundant, unwarranted role as stewards of the film industry in the Asheville area. The fact that there were already two industry sanctioned, or at least recognized, bodies in place for the state and region, and the fact that this group did nothing but introduce barriers to prevent consideration of the region by industry people was not even considered. Only after being ignored by the industry and having a total lack of anything to show for itself did the group come to the obvious conclusion that they were not in any position to perform their lofty goals and the commission fell apart.

    Now many of these same people have migrated their efforts to a film festival which lacks legitimacy and suffers many credibility issues. Not least among them the tradition of soliciting/begging any recognizable name in the industry to appear and accept an award as if there were an actual competition of some sort. I have personnaly spoken with legitimate marketing, film, and video professionals in town who have expressed sincere regret about this festival. Not because they are not included in the festivities or have a voice in them, but that it reflects poorly on Asheville in the eyes of other legitimate industry professionals.

    I’m not talking about people who join a media arts mailing list, claim to be producers, directors, and the like, and are not able to actually produce clients. I’m talking about actual working professionals whose input is not sought and their needs, or those of the local economy are often not considered. It’s not fair to the community or realistic in the industry to expect a succesful outcome from such an endeavor when the only requirement to manage and develop it is excitement and enthusiasm with no genuine professional industry talent behind it.

    There is real promise in attracting a thriving media industry and the associated professionals to this area, but we detract from that promise when we illustrate such poor respect for, and understanding of an industry some so desperately seek to be a part of. It’s not enough for people to believe they’re part of the film industry and therefore entitled to anything that goes with it. It requires the actual experience.

    This is not meant at a slam at you Ken, or at anyone in particuler. It is simply a comentary on the frustrating and counterproductive habit of so many groups in this community to make a poorly considered and overly ambitious reach that far exceeds their grasp.

  5. Ken Hanke

    While I understand at least some of where you’re coming from, I’m not at all sure what it is you’re wanting the festival to be — and that may be a part of the problem all the way around, a lack of some kind of concensus on what the film festival is about. That’s not unusual and it’s been a source of contention from the onset.

    More, I’m not sure who the people are whose input is not sought. You’re painting awfully broad strokes with that. I know some who have been on board and who have bailed — some with good reason, some because they were really there only to try to put forth a personal agenda. I know the whole process can be frustrating and I’ve come close to bailing myself on a few occasions. But I also know that it’s not going to get better without people stepping forward and trying to make it better — and I’m not seeing a lot of that. I’m on the committee and I’m easily accessible and would be delighted to get input and help from anyone with fresh ideas and approaches to consider.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Well, I enjoyed the film festival. I chose to see ‘The Caller’ at the Diana Wortham Theater, and found it intriquing.

    I rather liked The Caller myself. I’m sorry you apparently didn’t make it to the closing night film, Slumdog Millionaire. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a closing film greeted with more enthusiasm.

  7. Dionysis

    “I rather liked The Caller myself. I’m sorry you apparently didn’t make it to the closing night film, Slumdog Millionaire. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a closing film greeted with more enthusiasm.”

    I wish I had seen it; I attended the event with friends and relatives from out-of-town who were unable to stay too late. Next year, however, that will not be a factor.

  8. Jimbo

    Fair enough Ken. And I completely agree that lacking consensus is probably the biggest problem factor. This is often a result of poorly chosen or unqualified voices at the table monopolizing time, and or speaking with the loudest voice just to back their self interests or ego. Related to that and your other observations, I can only agree again that the net result is good people leaving, or not participating from the start which ends up with a group that does not reflect the interests of the issue they are supposed to support.

    I’ve found these type groups become so unwieldy from the start that the most valuable people quit participating out of sheer frustration. In fact, the best qualified people for any initiative do not have time to waste on pointless theatrics and personal agendas. Any effective person does not work that way and it’s unrealistic to expect them to put up with it for long. The end result is a group that lacks the experience, skill, or understanding necessary to perform the task at hand. They certainly will not have desperately needed community and monetary support when all that remains is mostly problem children. Unfortunately the film festival reflects this problem.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Fair enough Ken. And I completely agree that lacking consensus is probably the biggest problem factor. This is often a result of poorly chosen or unqualified voices at the table monopolizing time, and or speaking with the loudest voice just to back their self interests or ego.

    Inevitable to a degree, I think, but as near as I can tell — even where you and I are concerned — I’m not sure we agree on the point of the film festival. I’m getting the impression that you think the point is to bring the filmmaking industry to town to shoot movies, and that, I don’t think, is really the point of a film festival — though it can be a nice bonus and it’s possible in the sense that a filmmaker coming here will remember the area for that purpose. (I know the way the film and art community — and the festival, for that matter — has treated Tim Kirkman keeps Asheville high on his list for a filming spot when it’s practical.) To me, however, that’s not even a practical consideration for a film festival. (It’s certainly not the impetus behind Sundance or Telluride.) In my view, it’s more about celebrating the art of film and expanding film culture with the growth of the festival measured to some extent in how desirable it’s viewed by filmmakers as a venue for their work. And that has gotten better. It’s only been fairly recently that we’ve started to see films submitted in competition that boast name actors. The real key to this, however, lies in attracting distributors — i.e., your film might get seen and picked up. There have been some inroads there and there will be more, though as the smaller distributors die off, it’s harder to do this.

    Related to that and your other observations, I can only agree again that the net result is good people leaving, or not participating from the start which ends up with a group that does not reflect the interests of the issue they are supposed to support.

    Let me be clear on this — not everyone who has left represents this. As I said, some of those who have left very much had an agenda that reflected no support for anyone other than what they could get out of it.

    The end result is a group that lacks the experience, skill, or understanding necessary to perform the task at hand. They certainly will not have desperately needed community and monetary support when all that remains is mostly problem children. Unfortunately the film festival reflects this problem.

    I don’t entirely agree, but then I’m not sure we’re even talking about the same task at hand. Most of the people currently involved don’t qualify as “problem children” to me, though we have had some over the years, and no one I’ve seen recently has an agenda other than to try to make the best festival possible. I fully expect to see a shift this coming year in terms of willingness to listen and being open to new ideas, but that’s going to have to come from persons motivated to do more than just complain about the festival — and it’ll have to be done by persons who are community-minded, who are interested in film and filmmaking, and who are interested in seeing the festival grow and evolve. Those last remarks are not directed at you, nor are they directed at anyone in particular. It’s oh so easy from the outside to make assumptions based on rumor and partial knowledge. The rumors I heard this year were often astounding (my favorite being that the festival had been sold).

    I’ve stuck with this thing since the beginning and chances are I’ll continue to stick with it, so maybe I’m a little defensive when I read things like “So What’s” post. I would call on “So What” to do something constructive rather than simply make snarky comments. And I suppose it’s possible that he or she has — who can tell when confronted with the anonymity of a screen name?

  10. Jimbo, you are saying everything that we have been complaining about for years. I feel that this festival has been made a laughing-stock by ridiculous events (they’ll never live down the Dirty Dancing party), actors that no one cares about (I love Brad Dourif though), missteps (Ken Russell in America should have been a big deal) and most importantly the “small fish in a smaller pond” syndrome that has derailed this thing over the years.

    However Jimbo, I stopped complaining and got involved. I went to meetings and ended up screening movies at my house for a few weeks. In the past two years I think that the quality of films have improved. Personally, I’m with you in questioning why we need to give out an award, but let’s take this one step at a time and make this a thing we all can be proud of. Come help us.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Personally, I’m with you in questioning why we need to give out an award

    By this, I’m assuming you mean the guests and not the awards given to the competition films? There actually are a lot of very good reasons for doing this. Of course, bear in mind, that I was directly responsible for Ken Russell and at least involved in every guest since then other than Frank Pierson, so I am hardly a disinterested party. (I won’t comment on the first year’s guest because I didn’t even know there was a guest until the awards dinner. Nor will I comment on 2004 — the festival with which I was the least involved. And don’t get me started on Andie McDowell.)

    Guests — honorees — are a staple of this kind of event, just as they are a staple of such related events as movie/TV conventions. (Do you really think all those thousands of people would show up at, say, Dragon Con without the prospect of getting June Lockhart to sign something — and for an extra $5 she’ll sign dead co-stars names, too?) And the are a draw — though no one is going to be a draw for everyone. (There have been suggestions for guests I would have walked on the other side of the street to avoid.) And they do provide something to center on in terms of retrospective screenings, which is good for both attendance and the retrospectives. You aren’t likely to pack a theater with a showing of Bullets Over Broadway or Bound, but you will do that with screenings at which Jennifer Tilly is present. Now, you may say that she isn’t a a major figure (though she certainly has a major figure), but I would defend her status as a perfectly respectable and legitimate guest. And even if you have no interest in her for her own sake, you very well might be interested in people she’s worked with like Woody Allen, the Wachowskis, Neil Jordan, Peter Bogdanovich, etc. I can make the same case for Tess Harper and Brad Dourif, but the dynamic is the same.

    There is, however, another side — and perhaps the most important one — to the guest business that almost always gets overlooked, and yet it’s the aspect that comes closest to aiding the goal of both growth for the festival and the idea of Asheville as a desirable place. All these people have industry friends and they go home with their award and their stories of what a great time they had, how well they were treated, how friendly the people were, how receptive the audiences were, and generally what a great place Asheville is. In so doing, they become ambassadors for the festival and the city. Dwell on that before you dismiss the guest concept out of hand.

    I’m certainly not going to say there haven’t been embarassments (I argued against the whole Dirty Dancing idea from the onset, calling it “one of the top five bad ideas” I’d ever heard). And there have been missteps aplenty — most involving insufficient publicity. We had people travel here from all over the country to see Ken Russell, but we could have had several times that number had the news been put forth earlier and more forcefully.

    There are other areas where things are not perfect (nor will they ever be, because nothing ever is), but in many ways they are improving. An aggressive approach to recruiting quality entries has paid big dividends the past couple years. And I believe that things are being learned and that they can improve dramatically. That’s not going to happen without help, though.

  12. I understand the concept of bringing in a celebrity to raise awareness of the festival and to attract more attendees. However, it always seems to be a last minute scramble to find somebody, ANYBODY that will show up here. And I think that’s why Jimbo is concerned… it cheapens the festival and ultimately Asheville. After five years the booking of guests SHOULD have improved, but it has not. And this is not a slight on Brad Dourif, I love him, but I had to mention six films before someone could remember who he is. The only guest that could have received national press was Ken Russell and the festival screwed that one up big time, as you well know.

    I think that this can go two ways. Either ditch paying for a guest and get a greater assortment of films (already leaning that way) or budget a little bit here and there and pay more for someone with name recognition. Either way, I’m in it for the long haul and will help how I can.

    On a side note Ken, do you know of this Western North Carolina Film Festival happening this weekend? Gil Gerard!

    http://www.cometwesterns.com/filmfest.htm

  13. Ken Hanke

    Either ditch paying for a guest and get a greater assortment of films (already leaning that way) or budget a little bit here and there and pay more for someone with name recognition.

    Thing is, the festival hasn’t paid for a guest. And the scramble is a little exaggerated as concerns how it looks. Usually, this is in negotiation quite a while, though the publicity is another matter. You’re still overlooking the turnout for a Jennifer Tilly or a Tess Harper vs. what it would have been otherwise. And you’re still overlooking that whole good PR back in Hollywood aspect.

    On a side note Ken, do you know of this Western North Carolina Film Festival happening this weekend? Gil Gerard!

    Actually, that used to be called the Asheville Film Festival, but it’s never been a film festival, it’s a convention.

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