During the first week of October, more than 40 of this year’s best independent films will be featured at Silverspot Cinema in Chapel Hill as a part of the inaugural Film Fest 919. Many of the featured films will likely go on to receive prestigious awards and nominations this season, including at the Academy Awards.
“Our mission is to celebrate cinema and bring people together,” said Randi Emerman, executive director and founder of Film Fest 919.
Chapel Hill is “a breath of fresh air” and the perfect place to host the festival because “people are hungry for this kind of product,” she said. Emerman, a second-generation film industry worker who recently moved here from Florida, was a founding board member for the Palm Beach International Film Festival, which she lead for over 15 years.
The festival will take place from October 3-7, 2018, and will host receptions and seminars, during which attendees will be able to discuss the films amongst each other and with the filmmakers. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Communications’ Writing for the Screen and Stage and Media Production programs, both of which are self-funded.
Though the films will not feature North Carolina-based filmmakers, many of the receptions will occur at local venues and will feature local food, and some of the films shown at the festival will open at the Chelsea Theater and Silverspot Cinema later this year.
“This is about North Carolina and showing off what North Carolina is,” Emerman said.
Film Fest 919 hosted a launch event last fall with a special advanced screening of The Florida Project, which went on to receive many accolades, including an Academy Award nomination for best actor in a supporting role. Press from all over attended the event, including the Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, and the Washington Post. Emerman said that she expects a similar, if not bigger, press turnout at the festival this year.
One of the most important aspects of introducing this new festival into the community, Emerman said, was making sure that they created a niche for this annual event rather than trying to fill a preexisting one.
“The reason why we’re not showcasing any local filmmakers is because of the Carrboro Film Festival and we don’t want to step on their toes,” she said. “That’s what they’re known for, where people want to show local films. That’s really their space.”
They also will not be showing any documentaries at Film Fest 919, so as to not compete with the success of Durham’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
“Chapel Hill has so much to offer,” Emerman said. “It is becoming one of the greatest places to move to.”
Anyone who is interested in attending the festival can learn more at filmfest919.com.