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Weekend edition November 04, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Film Fest Knox starts its four-day run on Thursday

To officially launch the event, the organizers will hold the first-ever Elev8or Pitch Competition on Thursday, November 9.

Visit Knoxville‘s FILM FEST KNOX kicks off its four-day run next Thursday at the Regal Riviera in downtown Knoxville. In addition to the previously announced six feature films for the American Regional Film Competition, the programming includes an array of acclaimed festival highlights and revivals, the Elev8or Pitch, Made in Tennessee films, panels, and networking opportunities.

“We are ecstatic about the incredible films that will be showcased throughout the weekend of our first-time festival,” said Curt Willis, Director of the Visit Knoxville Film Office. “We think it’s something that Knoxville as a community can really get behind and be proud of, and we’re looking forward to having the opportunity to host many filmmakers in person at FILM FEST KNOX.”

To officially launch the event, the organizers will hold the first-ever Elev8or Pitch Competition on Thursday, November 9. Eight teams will have their films screened followed by their one-minute pitch in front of a live audience and panel of judges. They are:

  • Catacombs – Chad Cunningham;
  • Secret City – Edy Recendez;
  • Tenebris – Kelly Burke;
  • Along Came – Cody McHan;
  • Rock-a-Bye – Jamison Stallsworth;
  • Neon Shadows – Kevin Keck;
  • Field Call – Micah Russell; and
  • Solidarity – Asya Mounger.

The weekend continues with a packed schedule of feature-length films, shorts, panels, a screening of all Elev8or Pitch films, and other festivities and networking events.

The Made in Tennessee category is an especially exciting section for festival attendees. A Hard Problem is particularly noteworthy for local audiences. A moving drama about mourning and loss, this film transforms Knoxville into a recognizable near future in which artificial intelligence has become an everyday convenience and moral dilemma. Filmed in Knoxville, A Hard Problem was the first feature film written and directed by the Los Angeles-based duo known as hazart.

Made in Tennessee also features two locally-made documentaries that blend the excitement of sports with engaging off-field stories. Country Brawlers, by Curren Sheldon, is a raw and intimate look into the lives of professional boxers in Appalachia and the coaches that give them a fighting chance in an unforgiving region. One More Week, by Samuel Wayne Scott, documents the journey of several West High seniors as they attempt to win a state football championship while coming to terms with the end of high school.

The International Currents and Revival sections include nine feature films and ten shorts by acclaimed artists, past and present, and offer a representative survey of film art in 2023. “Six of the eight films in International Currents will screen at FILM FEST KNOX a month after their U.S. premieres at the New York Film Festival,” noted Artistic Director Darren Hughes.

Additionally, FILM FEST KNOX will offer two panels, designed to educate budding filmmakers. One will feature “The Art of the Pitch” by Emily Best, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Seed & Spark. The other features Bob Raines, Executive Director of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission,  and Willis in a conversation about filming in Tennessee and Knoxville.

The full agenda can be found here. To purchase tickets, click here.


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