Fairhope Film Festival Underway


Posted: Nov 08, 2013 5:04 PM CST Updated: Nov 08, 2013 5:04 PM CST

By Debbie Williams

FAIRHOPE, Alabama –

In a dark theater about 100 people stare at a screen and get lost in the sights and sounds of a film.

“It’s like the reception at the end of the wedding.”

After months of planning the Fairhope Film Festival is underway. “We got 40 great films and 21 great shorts,” says executive director Mary Riser, “so that’s 61 opportunities to see some great work.”

“It’s just fun to sit in a theater with a lot of people who are enjoying it,” says Pam Turner. “It’s fun at home but it’s a lot more fun when you are in a community and everybody is in a buzz about it.”

The film festival is already considered a success. The first day was sold out and the meat of the festival is yet to come.

“I went to film school for college and then I became a newspaper reporter,” says Ben Raines, “so I’m getting to use a new muscle. I’m excited about the festival.”

Raines is premiering his film at the festival, “America’s Amazon”, a documentary about the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

“The film really takes you into the heart of it and you’re seeing the snakes and the alligators, you’re seeing the incredible plants. It’s just this stunningly beautiful place,” he says.

A place, according to Raines, that needs protection. “We have this treasure and it’s our job to protect it and we haven’t always done the best job.”

More people will no doubt learn more about the delta, some seeing it for the first time. All because of a film festival..

“This is our first year and it’s very exciting there will definitely be more.”

The kind of movies you won’t see at your local multi-plex but can be just as entertaining.

The film festival runs through Sunday and already there have been a few celebrity sightings in Fairhope.

Talia Shire from “Rocky” fame was spotted last night and taught an acting class this morning.

Paul Sorvino has also been spotted around town.

View this article in its original format at WKRG.com

Great films and football in one: Fairhope Film Festival combines with sports viewing venues


Monday, October 28, 2013

By Phillip Norris

The first annual Fairhope Film Festival will debut on Nov. 7-10 in historic downtown Fairhope. More than 40 international award-winning films will be shown in four downtown walkable venues over the four-day festival. The glitch for some, however, is it’s a fall football weekend, and many don’t want to miss their favorite team play. Have no fear, because downtown Fairhope has lots of sports bars that will offer your game of choice within walking distance of the film venues.

Bobby Kilpatrick, owner of My Place Downtown, said he has four TVs in the bar and will have a large-screen TV in the courtyard, cold beer and any mixed drink that you can think up. Across the street at McSharry’s Irish Pub, Ronan McSharry will open as early as an SEC game starts and always has lots of quality beers on tap for the discerning football/film fan. Up the street at Courtyard@311, Jennifer Pierce has just purchased four new big screens and has worked up menu specials to go along with your favorite team’s game. Courtyard@311 offers football viewing at the indoor bar with table seating, a game-day upstairs big screen room, and an outside courtyard that features college football on Saturday and pro football on Sunday.

So here’s the deal: you have access to great films and great sports bars all in one of the most beautiful small cities in the South. If you love great films and football, come on down. If you love great films but have a significant other who doesn’t, then park him or her at a great watering hole while you see films that have just won the top awards in the United States and abroad..

Also at the Fairhope Film Festival, there are two great parties in the lineup — one on Friday and one on Saturday night. These parties provide an opportunity for you to meet and mingle with film directors and actors who will be in town for the Festival. Plus, who knows, they may be sitting next to you at one of Fairhope’s downtown taverns watching the Crimson Tide or the Tigers go for a win.

Click here for original article at GulfCoastNewsToday.com

Fairhope Film Festival organizers seek city’s help to upgrade downtown theater venue

By Marc D. Anderson | manderson@al.com
on April 10, 2013 at 4:15 PM, updated April 10, 2013 at 4:21 PM

FAIRHOPE, Alabama — Over a 4-day period in November a group of dedicated volunteers will launch an ambitious film festival with the hope that one day it will rival some of the top venues in the country.

“We think that we have something special to offer here and there’s really not that level of festival in the Southeast,” said Phillip Norris, co-founder of the Fairhope Film Festival. “We think all of the pieces are in place to do that.”

Norris, accompanied by fellow festival co-founder Mary Riser, spoke to members of the Fairhope City Council at their work session this week.

“Our goal is to build a festival that is competitive internationally,” Norris said. “The theme of the festival is “The Best of the Best.” You can’t get in this festival unless you won a film festival in the last 14 months. So this is the winners of the winners.”

The festival has been billed as a first-class event featuring 40 films at four downtown locations over four days, Nov. 7-10, with an expected draw of 5,000 people. The venues will include the University of South Alabama’s theater, Faulkner State Community College’s Centennial Hall, Fairhope Public Library’s Giddens Conference Center and a covered outdoor venue.

While USA’s theater is ready to go, Riser said upgrades are needed at the Faulkner State and library venues in order for it to properly host the festival.

“What we really want is for you to help us with the library and turn it into a real theater because it’s really not a real theater right now,” Riser said. “It needs a full makeover.”

Norris added, “And when we say makeover it’s a new screen, a new projection system and some audio. And this is not just for us it’s for all the groups that use the library.”

Riser said she was encouraged by conversations with John Borom, director of Faulkner’s Fairhope campus, about upgrading the college’s film equipment. For the library, Norris and Riser told the council that $30,000 would cover the upgrades, including removable risers that seats can be put on to create a theater-like setting.

“As we look at other film festivals around the country. Virtually everyone has support from the (host) city,” Norris said. “We see this as a partnership with the city because we want to bring international recognition to Fairhope. We didn’t name it the Gulf Coast Film Festival. It’s the Fairhope Film Festival.”

With local film connections to actors such as Jason Schwartzman, who is married to a Montrose native, and Faulkner’s launch of its computer animation and visual effects program in the fall thanks to a partnership with Centre NAD Baccalaureate College in Montreal, city officials were receptive to the proposal, which also included placing banners around town and using the Welcome Center as a box office.

“I like the idea,” Council President Jack Burrell said. “I’m not going to sit here and promise you that we’re going to support you … but there’s one thing in your favor and that’s the next budget year. So you need to get this request in by June the 1st so that we can start talking about it.”

Burrell said he would also like to see an economic impact study done, and Norris said one was already in the works and should be complete by the end of May.

Click here for original article at AL.com