WORDS / STEVE HINTZ
The banks of the Arkansas River will turn into Little Hollywood from May 15-19 when the Little Rock Film Festival gets underway. This exclusive film event hits big screens all within walking distance from each other, making it a pedestrian event.
The festival will screen more than 100 short and feature length narratives and documentaries from the state, region, country and world. Between screenings at what Moviemaker Magazine has coined one of the top 25 film festivals in the country “worth it’s entrance fee,” film goers can walk the river walk, stop in local restaurants hosting festival events and soak up Little Rock’s art district.
No regional film festival would be complete without a shout to the local artisans, and Little Rock is no different. Now the centerpiece of the festival, the “Made in Arkansas” competition promises to bring you the very best film works being produced in the state.
“After looking at the submissions this year, it’s clear that the local filmmaking scene in Arkansas has arrived. As a whole, these films make up the strongest line up we have seen yet,”reiterates Faith Chonko, LRFF ‘Made in Arkansas’ programmer.
Some of the highlights of this year’s competition include a pair of documentaries zeroing in on local personalities. Matthew Wolfe’s The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain tells the story of former All-American Arkansas football player Mitch Mustain and his fall from grace, narrated by former Razorback Basketball coach Nolan Richardson.
Master storyteller Larry Foley’s Up Among the Hills promises to unearth all of the unique characters that make up the history of Fayetteville and is narrated by former president Bill Clinton, himself a former Fayetteville resident. All in all, a brilliant complement to the global fare being served up by the festival’s directors.
Other highlights of this year’s festival include a new emphasis on music. In addition to music acts playing prior to film screenings at the LRFF 2013, Whitewater Tavern will also be hosting a number of after parties for the festival and featuring local music artists. This year also marks the first year of Heifer International’s Humanitarian award, a new film category offering a $10,000 cash prize to the best socially conscious film.
The Oxford American Magazine will also offer $10,000 for the best southern film. Saturday, May 18, is Family Day and the festival will screen Diary of a Wimpy Kid with one of the child actors in attendance. The awards gala will be held at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library.
The Little Rock Film Festival was the brainchild of Executive Director Craig Renaud and Artistic Director Brent Renaud, both award-winning documentary filmmakers. Over the last few years, the festival has become a springboard for Oscar-nominated films like Winter’s Bone and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Other indie hits like Restrepo, Natural Selection and Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture have been screened.
Tickets, schedules and more information can be found on the Little Rock Film Festival website.