Lindsey Film Fest to showcase local talent

A showcase of local talent and popular television stars is planned for the 15th annual George Lindsey UNA Film FestivalMarch 1 to 3. The festival is free to UNA students.

UNA alumni Tyler Martin and Clay Thomas will both have films shown at the festival, while UNA graduate and instructor Andrew Reed will have two films shown, including “I’m with Phil,” a film telling the story of people named Phil Campbell around the world who arrived at the town of Phil Campbell after last year’s April tornadoes.

“I’m very excited we’ve been chosen to be screened,” Reed said. “I remember, as a student, the film festival, especially the year Billy Bob came. I hope we get a great turnout at all the screenings.”

Along with talent from UNA, this year’s festival will feature several television and film stars, including Michael Rooker from “The Walking Dead,” Mark Boone Jr. from “Sons of Anarchy,” Bobby Jon Drinkard formerly from “Survivor,” Ernest Borgnine and festival co-founder and namesake George Lindsey, returning after an absence from last year’s festival.

“He will be here,” said Cynthia Burkhead, co-director of the Lindsey Film Fest and instructor of English. “We’re excited for both George and Ernie also. It’s going to be a really special year for those two best friends to be back together.”

The festival will start March 1 with a kick-off party at FloBama at 4 p.m. and will move at 5 p.m. to the Zodiac Theatre for movie screenings until 11 p.m., with an extended kick-off party hosted at On the Rocks.

On March 2, Lindsey and Borgnine will be present for the dedication and grand opening of the George S. Lindsey Theatre & Ernest Borgnine Performance Hall, located on the UNA campus at the corner of Irvine and Pine Street.

The day will start with a table reading of this year’s winning screenplay submission, “Gossamer Folds” by Bridget Flanery-Fownes, performed by UNA theater students.

“This year, we’ll actually have a live reading of the feature length screenplay,” said Jason Flynn, co-director of the festival and assistant professor of film and digital media production. “It’s good for the writer to hear it aloud and talk about it, but also good for an audience to come and hear a screenplay instead of just watching it in production.”

That same day, UNA will host both a traveling Entertainment Media Production and Crew Training, or EMPACT, trailer carrying displays of production equipment at 5 p.m. and “An Evening with Michael Rooker” at 7 p.m.

The last day of the Lindsey Film Fest, March 3, will start off at 10 a.m. with an idea pitching session and workshop held with Mark Scholnick, vice president of program planning and acquisitions for E! Entertainment Television, with four ideas being pitched to Scholnick.

After more screenings and displays at the EMPACT trailer, the festival will end with an awards show at UNA’s East Campus at 7 p.m..

“We’re also trying to grow in healthy ways,” Burkhead said. “I’m going to say that this year we made it possible to see everything free. All other film festivals, you have to buy a pass or pay to get into each screening.

“We have always felt very strongly that we really, really want our community to embrace independent film making. We need to make that as accessible to them as possible.”

All screenings will be free to students, Burkhead said, and though the event with Mike Rooker and the awards show will cost money for admission, students can get tickets for free at the Office of Student Engagement while they last.