ATLFF 2011 - Terri starts it up

In a lively lobby at the Landmark Theater, a skinny director walks the red carpet of opening night. He's Azazel Jacobs and he's no stranger to festivals as his film Terri as well as his previous work have made the scene at many of the top film festivals around. He was excited about being in Atlanta to kick off the 35th Annual Atlanta Film Festival. "It's an honor to be chosen to open a festival like this, one that's had such a tradition for so long," said Jacobs.

Terri stars John C. Reilly as an Assistant Principal who befriends a teenager that has a hard time fitting in at school while living with his uncle who is in poor health. I ask Jacobs about working with veteran actor Reilly, "I was intimidated at first since he's got such experience but he was very encouraging and respectful to me as a director that I got over that easily."

Interim Festival Director Carol Ann Rafferty spoke about the best part of her first festival, "The community coming together as one to make this happen is the best part."

For me, the best part of the festival is the line-up of films at the festival this year. Why? Well, quite simply, I literally get to say "I told you so."  CinemATL was able to bring our readers stories on five of the Georgia related films that will be part of this year’s Atlanta Film Festival well ahead of the selections this year.

Admittedly, for Slamdance films like Pleasant People and Snow On Tha Bluff it shouldn’t have been too hard a prediction. We have a guest review from Paul Sbrizzi of Snow On Tha Bluff just in time for the festival. However, I am proud to say that those aren’t the only films that we did stories on earlier this year.

We were proud to have John Henry Summourer talk about his feature film Sahkanaga and his experience at the IFP Lab. Sahkanaga will be jointly premiering at the Atlanta Film Festival as well as the Boston Film Festival which I applaud that the two festivals were able to work that out for the film.

We also did a story on Bret Wood and his feature The Little Death which will also screen at the Festival. Additionally, we covered Whitestone Motion Pictures The Candy Shop and are happy to see Brandon McCormick’s short film in this year’s lineup.

Those aren’t the only Georgia related films at this year’s festival either -- and by no means the only great films to take notice of for this years film festival. A few films that we’ll be covering this year will be Laugh and Shadow Puppets of Other Worlds Shorts program.

David Bruckner (The Signal) will screen his short film Talk Show, along with Eric Haviv's Everything’s For Sale and Jade Holmes' Three Blind Mice,  all as part of the Drama Shorts Program. David Silverman (who we covered for last year’s festival) returns to the ATLFF with the Comedy Short Pony Rides are for Girls.

CinemATL’s own Michael D Friedman’s short film Living with NADS: The Jimmy Epson Story will screen in the same Comedy Shorts program. He once again tries to place more words in the title than dialogue in the film itself. However, he's proud to be part of the festival once again, "It's always exciting to be a part of your local festival. The Atlanta Film Festival always has a great lineup and it's an honor to be part of it, and to be able to meet and interact with so many great and talented filmmakers."

And there are many other terrific films at this year’s festival. I’m particularly interested in the following films in addition to the Georgia related films:

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – April 29, 7:30pm @ Landmark Midtown Morgan Spurlock tackles how corporate advertising impacts us all.

Things Fall Apart – April 30, 10pm @Landmark Midtown Co-written, co-produced and starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, undergoes an shocking physical transformation for the role of an athlete who is suddenly struck down with cancer in this moving film.

Pigskin & Magnolias: 12 Days of Fandom – April 30, 1:30pm @ Landmark Midtown College football! The SEC? ‘Nuff said.

Disabled but Able to Rock! – May 4, 8:00pm @ The Plaza Danger Woman! If you know then you know.

Beatboxing – The Fifth Element of Hip Hop – May 5th, 9:45pm @Landmark Midtown The Human Beat Box is a nearly lost art form that is brought back by the dedicated and talented folks who still believe in its power and beauty. This documentary believes!

Africa United – Closing Night!! May 7, 7:45pm @Landmark Midtown Three African youth travel 3000 miles to for Football (the other football a.k.a. Soccer) and a great voyage ensues.

To see the whole festival line-up, check out