Movie News & Reviews

Danville joins Cannes in world of film festivals

France has the Cannes Film Festival and Utah the Sundance Film Festival. Later this summer, Danville will debut the Lawn Chair Film Festival.

Amateur filmmakers are asked to submit short movies that will be judged and then shown Sept. 9 on an outdoor screen.

The festival is an outgrowth of Lawn Chair Theater, a free outdoor showing of theatrical releases on Friday nights at Constitution Square State Historic Site, said Charlie Cox, spokesman for the Danville/Boyle County Economic Development Partnership.

"We're hoping people aren't intimidated," Cox said. "You don't have to be Steven Spielberg."

Cox said Julie Wagner, executive director of the Heart of Danville, a downtown revitalization group, came up with the idea to show amateur movies on the eve of the Constitution Square Arts Fest, which is Sept. 10 to 12.

The due date for entries is Aug. 30. You don't have to be a Danville or Boyle County resident to enter; anyone may submit a short movie.

A jury will look at the entries and judge which are best. "We'd like to show every entry, but that will be dictated by the number of entries," Cox said.

Organizers hope the festival will tap into the small-town vibe that has made Danville's Great American Brass Band Festival a success since 1990.

Danville native Scott Stafford, director of Cannonball, a 99-minute movie that won the prize for best original feature at the World Independent Film Expo in Richmond, said he is "really excited" to see his hometown start its own festival for amateurs.

"Danville has had a little bit of an arts movement going for the past few years," Stafford said. "I'm pretty stoked about that."

He cited West T. Hill Community Theatre, which has produced plays with local actors for 31 years. Pioneer Playhouse, in its 61st year, continues to produce theater under the stars. The Community Arts Center has painting workshops and art exhibits in the old federal building at Main and Fourth streets. And, of course, the Norton Center for the Arts brings in performers from all over the world.

"It seems like people are willing and eager for this to come in," said Stafford, who produces commercials for the Frankfort Plant Board's Media Services.

Kentucky has a handful of festivals for independent filmmakers. The Derby City Film Festival in Louisville, which also screened Cannonball, was in February. The World Independent Film Expo in Richmond screened movies and held workshops on directing, makeup and special effects in May.

There's also the Louisville International Festival of Film, scheduled for Sept. 30 to Oct. 3; it was started by Louisville native and character actor Conrad Bachmann. And Paducah has the Rivers' Edge International Film Festival, which will be Nov. 4 to 7.

So does Stafford have any tips for amateur filmmakers thinking about submitting an entry for the Lawn Chair Festival?

He suggested that would-be directors concentrate on the story they want to tell and having good audio.

"Story is most important," Stafford said. "Most people can get over any technical deficiencies, which I would expect the first few years of this festival. They'll be OK as long as the story is strong."