UNA hosts 23rd annual George Lindsey Film Festival

This March 5-7, the annual George Lindsey Film Festival will be returning to UNA and showcasing around 75 films.

The festival will run over the course of three days with film screenings throughout each day. Screenings will begin on March 5 at 10 a.m. in the UNA Communications building. The final screening will be on March 7 at 4:15 p.m. An awards show is at 6:30 p.m. at the Mane Room will conclude the festival.

UNA cinematic arts professor Michael Johnson said that finalists will be chosen by students and faculty, while a jury of film professionals will choose the winners. Films are placed in the following categories: Student Documentary, Professional Documentary, Youth Film, Student Narrative, Narrative Feature Films, Professional Narrative Short Film and Vanguard. Other categories include Alabama Films, Florence Academy of Fine Arts Films, 1 Minute FAFA Films and UNA Cinematic Arts and Theatre Spotlight.

Each year, UNA hosts the George Lindsey Film Festival, started nearly 23 years ago by Alabama native and UNA alumnus George Lindsey. As a film student, he graduated on to become a successful actor, director, producer, teacher, stand-up comedian and even a member of the U.S. Air Force. Lindsey acted in theater as well, in plays such as “All American” and “Wonderful Town.” He later began to land major roles on television that would strengthen and solidify his presence in Hollywood.

Lindsey has fulfilled different roles in movies and shows like “Hee-Haw,” “Mayberry R.F.D.,” “The Aristocats,” “Twilight Zone” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” where he portrayed Goober Pyle. Following his extensive career and humanitarian work, a festival in his honor was created for fellow UNA students and filmmakers. According to a biography of Lindsey, which can be found on UNA’s website, the George Lindsey film festival “is an annual event that provides young filmmakers the opportunity to show their work and learn more about the film-making industry.” The full biography can be accessed online at www.una.edu/library/collections/george-lindsey—biography.html.

The longevity of this festival is marked by UNA students’ growing interest in and passion for the arts. Many of the featured films were submitted by UNA cinematic arts students. Film submissions, however, are not limited to only UNA students. Johnson said that of the films, about 40 of them were Alabama- produced, while other submissions have been made by people from across the nation.

“It was really just a way to kind of promote independent film in Alabama and sort of promote film production in Alabama.” Johnson said. “There’s featured films and short films. Then there’s professional and student films and youth films.” He also said that filmmakers from all over the country are participating in the festival.

Many of the students involved, in particular, are cinematic arts students, but there are plenty involved who are not. Their tasks with regard to film production involved acting, directing, writing and more. These groups of 15-20 students were also responsible for acquiring their props and incorporating music to fit their films.  

UNA alumnus Merri Beth Stanfield wrote and directed “Think Tank,” which is a student narrative short that highlights a young girl’s struggles with over-thinking. Stanfield graduated from UNA in 2019 with a major in Film and Digital Media Productions, which is equivalent to the current Cinematic Arts major.

Her film “Think Tank” features UNA students Jake Skinner and Julia Stith as the male and female leads. Stanfield said the horror scene was the most fun to make, as they were able to work with dramatic lighting and costumes. She also added how much work went into production, mentioning the 12-hour days the students spent creating the film.

“We took a whole semester just to focus on writing the film,” Stanfield said. “A lot goes into before we start filming it. We had a whole semester dedicated to writing it, finding actors, starting our funding campaigns…”

Stanfield said that “Think Tank” involves many cinematic styles. Viewers can anticipate different scenes within the film from the horror scene, to the romantic scene and the ‘50s scene. Costume changes and lighting set-up were essential to distinguishing each scene.

The entire event is free to all who would like to attend. More information regarding the specific times, locations and other information about the festival can be accessed at lindseyfilmfest.com.