Jacksonville, Florida is known for its abundant sunshine, white sand beaches, and the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s known across America for being a entertaining and fun getaway destination. Aside from its natural beauty and fun attractions, the Jacksonville area has a popular and vibrant art movement. Their large creative community has been at the cutting edge of art for years and this is evident in great events like the World Arts Film Festival. The unique festival gives filmmakers of various ages and levels of development the opportunity to gather, learn about their craft and enjoy their favorite medium. Not only will young film enthusiasts learn about the craft from more experienced filmmakers, all participants will learn to connect with different fans and audiences.
Films come in from all around the world and in multiple different genres to be viewed and voted upon. The films are all short films (20 minutes or less) and are required to fall into one of the following categories: narrative, documentary, animation, new media and student. With over 100 films from all around the world being showcased in three days, all participants will get a one-of-a-kind film viewing experience. Karen Sadler, the Founder of the World Arts Film Festival, sat down with us and answered some questions about this unique event.
RAL: Please give me some information about your event. How old is festival? How many people does it draw? Who are they? What makes this a unique festival?
KS: This is our third year of operation. We estimate that our attendance will be around 5,000 people based on numbers from the past couple years. The World Arts Film Festival attracts both students through our educational outreach and adult film-goers for our presentation of short films from around the world. We are unique because we give established and first-time directors the opportunity to meet and mentor each other. It is an enjoyable and educational festival for filmmakers of all ages and backgrounds, including those with special needs.
RAL: What activities can an attendee expect to participate in and are there any guest appearances?
KS: We have range of activities that aspiring filmmakers and seasoned pros can learn from and enjoy. We screen a variety of films, there are multiple educational panel discussions, hands-on filmmaking workshops and art exhibits.
Invited guests include Michael Hausman, producer of feature films including Gangs of New York and Brokeback Mountain; Chad L. Coleman, actor from The Walking Dead and HBO’s The Wire; Clark Johnson, film and television actor and director of Homeland, The Wire, Magic City; Al Letson, producer of PBS’ State of the Re:Union and others.
RAL: Tell me about the dining options and the overall environment…
KS: Local restaurants have a wide range of options and a selection of food trucks sponsored by Hemming Park will be set up adjacent to our venue.
Festival venue locations give all our attendees and visitors an exciting experience of the Jacksonville area. Our Opening Night Welcome Event at Unity Plaza features short film screenings, music and cocktails. Friday’s program is located at The Main Library Conference Center with an after-party at Jacksonville’s hottest downtown music venue “Underbelly”. Saturday’s program takes place at The Main Library Conference Center with outdoor activities at beautiful Hemming Park, an adjacent outdoor venue in the city center hosting an evening outdoor screening and closing night party.
RAL: What can our travelers expect for local lodging and are there popular places that guests to the area flock to?
KS: There are a number of hotels and boutique accommodations in the Jacksonville area and nearby St. Augustine, FL. known for its picturesque bed and breakfasts. The Hyatt Hotel has been the main hotel offering a festival discount to attendees. A few other places to consider staying during the festival include Sheraton Jacksonville Hotel, Best Western Oceanfront Resort and One Ocean Resort and Spa. Local restaurants feature cuisine from gourmet burgers to international delights and the best of Southern cooking. Jacksonville's downtown riverfront promenade is a great place to walk to shop and to enjoy the weather.
RAL: How does the festival affect the community, local economy and do you support any special causes?
KS: There is an opportunity for all ages and all abilities to participate in a unique event right in their own city. The festival creates new relationships through shared experiences, greater understanding, and supports community growth. We take pride in supporting the revitalized downtown core and we are the only cultural event that cultivates an experience of this kind for all ages. We support educational programs for youth including those with special needs such as autism and dyslexia. We also support programs year-round in arts and film education.
RAL: Why should people come to your festival?
KS: Our event is taking place at a state-of-the-art venue with a 400-seat theater and approximately 20,000 square feet of space attracting arts and film enthusiasts, filmmakers, students, seniors and families. A unique international short film festival with three days of screenings, industry guests, educational panels, hands-on workshops, and receptions including a closing night special event with an evening outdoor film screening!
For more information about this festival please visit their website.