The Lindsey Film Fest celebrates 26th year

Tiffani Adams, Volunteer Writer

The 26th Annual George Lindsey Film Festival was surely full of surprises this year. From tempered weather conditions to the newly implemented VIP passes, the festival was a success in showing talent from across the world. The film festival was held March 2-4, and during those three days numerous viewings, panels, and celebrations were held to exhibit talent in the filmmaking industry and honor George Lindsey. 

The George Lindsey Film Festival is the longest running film festival in Alabama. It is an event where students and professional filmmakers from all over the world can gather and share their appreciation of film while networking in a non-formal setting. Various film categories such as documentaries, comedies, science fiction, and memoirs are shown, ensuring that the film festival is diverse and inclusive. The event also garners positive attention to the University of North Alabama’s Cinematic Arts and Theatre Department. 

Ted Schaefer, director of “Giving Birth to a Butterfly,” and New York native stated, “They treat you so well, the festival itself. The festival has done such a wonderful job flying everyone out, putting us up, giving us food, and making sure we feel at home. They do a good job at connecting the filmmakers- which is the best part about these festivals. It has been a great experience. The connection to the university makes this festival very unique. It’s an important thing as a filmmaker to reflect on younger generations of filmmakers and connect to what they are interested in.”

Screenings were hosted in The Alley Cat, Communications Building and the Mane Room. These screenings consisted of professional films made by students, Alabama natives, and contestants from various regions including Hungary. This year, there were 23 finalists in seven categories and showings of an additional 37 Alabama films. Michael Curtis Johnson, chair of the Cinematic Arts and Theatre Department and co-chair of the George Lindsey Film Festival, stated that there were over 250 entries this year. This is the 6th festival he has been co-chair of along with Cynthia Burkhead of the English Department, making him very familiar with the long process of choosing winning films. 

While unpredicted storms did shake the town of Florence on the first two days of the film festival, Johnson was prepared.

“Weather did affect things early on,” said Johnson. “We lost some power, so we had to push some screenings, we had to put [on] a block party and move it inside. It was supposed to be outside- but we adjusted and everything has turned out really great.” 

The block party and kick off party were excellent ways to display the playful side of the event. With karaoke and catered meals, guests were able to partake in the fun while exploring Florence’s downtown district. It was also a way to show off the features of the newly implemented VIP passes retailing at $15, that offered front row seats to screenings, lunch packages, and special early entrance at the award ceremony. 

“It’s ridiculously cheap compared to other festivals. They fed us- I have not had to eat out once. It’s an awesome addition,” said Chuck Aurora, a first-time attendant of the film festival.

The film festival concluded with an award ceremony hosted in the Mane Room and catered by UNA’s Culinary Art’s program. Awards were presented to first place winners in each category and they received a substantial prize. The ceremony also honored late George Lindsey, Jr., who passed away in December. A celebration of life was hosted at the George Lindsey Theater the following day. 

President Ken Kitts concluded the award ceremony by presenting the award of the 2023 Best of Show winning film, “Waiting for the Light to Change”.

“I’m delighted to see this energy between this festival and our emerging school of the Arts,” said President Kitt, after dwelling on the past festival’s hit from Covid-19. “I think that’s great. We are going to continue our support for this, and I would love to see it continue to grow. I’m proud of it.”