North Carolina–based photographer created new works focused on independent filmmaking in the South for the High’s collection
The High Museum of Art will debut more than 60 new works by North Carolina–based photographer Alex Harris in the latest exhibition for its “Picturing the South” series: “Our Strange New Land: Photographs by Alex Harris” (Nov. 29, 2019 – May 3, 2020). Established in 1996, “Picturing the South” is a distinctive initiative that asks noted photographers to turn their lenses toward the American South to create work for the High’s collection. For his commission, Harris made photographs on independent film sets throughout the South to explore how the region is seen, imagined and created by contemporary visual storytellers.
“We are delighted to acquire Harris’ work for the collection as part of our ‘Picturing the South’ series. Over more than two decades, the series has demonstrated our dedication to photography and to celebrate the region’s diversity, beauty, and unique character,” said Rand Suffolk, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director. “We are excited to recognize Harris’ distinguished career through this commission and to share these new photographs with our audience.”
Born and raised in Georgia, Harris is a founder of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and lives and works in Durham, North Carolina. A dozen years ago, having documented contemporary Cuban society, he was asked to photograph on the set of Steven Soderbergh’s film “Che” (2008). Inspired by that experience, Harris decided to explore current narrative cinematic representations of the South by chronicling productions of contemporary independent films set in the region.
“One of our main goals for ‘Picturing the South’ is to allow the photographers to explore a new creative route or dig deeper into a topic that inspires them, so we are thrilled that Harris went this direction with his commission,” said Greg Harris, the High’s associate curator of photography. “Ranging from intimate portraits and quiet moments to sweeping landscapes and atmospheric scenes, the photographs in the exhibition not only showcase Harris’ ingenuity and skill as a photographer but also will offer our visitors an opportunity to see the South through the eyes of innovative filmmakers.”
Over the past two years, Alex Harris has traveled around Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas capturing both the scenes constructed for film productions and the activity that unfolded around and adjacent to the sets, often blurring the lines between staged storytelling and real life. With the South’s diverse topography as a backdrop, he strings together impeccably lit and instinctively composed images to build an intuitive narrative that vacillates between deep sorrow, explosive anger and mundane anticipation. Though he leaves clues, Harris never fully reveals which pictures are contrived for the cinema and which are documentary happenstance.
“I began this project believing that, by photographing on contemporary Southern film sets, I might, through the visions and imaginations of these filmmakers, show the South in a new light,” said Alex Harris. “Over the last two years I found myself approaching these imagined dramas much in the same way I took on earlier, more traditional documentary projects, following my instincts and editing my photographs not to tell a particular story — or to be faithful to the plots of individual films — but to discover the story my photographs have to tell. Gradually, I became interested in seeing how my pictures from widely different film productions resonated with each other. Now, in mounting this exhibition with curators at the High, I see a cumulative portrait, not only of these productions and of the South, but of an idea that has long been celebrated in literature, explored in science and conveyed by philosophers — that is, the ways in which we are all actors in our own lives, creating our sets, practicing our lines, refining our characters, playing ourselves.”
“Our Strange New Land: Photographs by Alex Harris” will be on view in the Lucinda Weil Bunnen Photography Galleries on the Lower Level of the High’s Wieland Pavilion. The “Picturing the South” commission was made possible by the generous support of the H.B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust.
About Alex Harris
For over 40 years, Harris (American, born 1949) has photographed across the American South and in locations as disparate as the Inuit villages of Alaska; the streets of Havana, Cuba; and the fish markets of Mumbai, India. He has taught at Duke University since 1980. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship and a Lyndhurst Prize. Harris’ work is represented in major photographic collections, including those of the High Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including in exhibitions at the International Center of Photography in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. As a photographer and editor, Harris has published 18 books. His book “River of Traps” with William deBuys was a finalist for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. Most recently, he published “Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum, 1897–1922”with Margaret Sartor.
About “Picturing the South”
The High began its “Picturing the South” initiative in 1996 both to provide a contemporary perspective on Southern subjects and themes and to expand its collection of contemporary photography. The commissions have benefited the Museum as well as the artists — Sally Mann’s commission in 1996, for instance, helped support her shift to landscape work and resulted in the first photographs in her “Motherland” series. The other commissions range from Dawoud Bey’s over-life-size portraits of Atlanta high school students to Emmet Gowin’s aerial photographs of aeration ponds and paper mills. Photographer Alex Webb captured the drama of Atlanta’s street life and nightlife, and Richard Misrach used a view camera to reveal the beauty and pathos of the industrial landscape along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, an area known as Cancer Alley. In the most recent completed commission, Mark Steinmetz focused on air travel and Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport —closely considering the activity and interactions that make the airport the crossroads of the New South.
About the High’s Photography Department
The High Museum of Art is home to one of the nation’s leading photography programs. The Museum began acquiring photographs in the early 1970s, making it one of the earliest American art museums to commit to collecting the medium. With more than 7,500 prints that span the history of the medium from the 1840s to the present, the collection has particular strengths in American and European modernist traditions, documentary and contemporary photography. Holdings include the most significant museum collection of vintage civil-rights-era prints in the nation as well as important holdings by Harry Callahan, Clarence John Laughlin, William Christenberry, Ralph Gibson, Richard Misrach, Walker Evans and Peter Sekaer. The collection also gives special attention to pictures made in and of the South, serving as the largest and most significant repository representing the region’s important contributions to photography.
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Our Strange New Land: Photographs by Alex Harris” is organized by the High Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible by Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Exhibition Series Sponsors Northside Hospital and WarnerMedia; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot, and wish foundation; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell, and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters Lucinda W. Bunnen, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, Margot and Danny McCaul, Joel Knox and Joan Marmo, and The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust. Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.
About the High Museum of Art
Located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, the High Museum of Art connects with audiences from across the Southeast and around the world through its distinguished collection, dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and engaging community-focused programs. Housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, the High features a collection of more than 17,000 works of art, including an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that of artists from the American South; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculpture, new media and design; a growing collection of African art, with work dating from pre-history through the present; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to reflecting the diversity of its communities and offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit www.high.org.
ART Station Theatre presents Ray Bradbury Live (forever)
The ART Station Theatre in Stone Mountain Village presents a new play written and performed by Emmy-winner Bill Oberst, Jr. in Ray Bradbury Live (forever) .
Ray Bradbury turned generations of readers onto fantasy, sci-fi and dreams of the future. Emmy-winner Bill Oberst, Jr. is Ray in Ray Bradbury Live (forever) a brand new multimedia stage tribute. With large-screen visuals, an original score and selections from classics like Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Martian Chronicles, it is 90 minutes of eloquence, exuberance and hope – all in Ray’s own words. “Ray makes your spirit want to soar” – IndyStar.
Performances will be in the ART Station Theatre Thursday, February 27, Friday, February 28, Saturday, February 29 at 8pm. There will be a Sunday afternoon performance at 3 pm.
Tickets prices are $20 for students and military, $25 for seniors and $29 for adults. Additional fee apply for rows A and B.
Reservations may be made by calling the ART Station Box Office at 770 469 1105 or visit our online Box Office at www.artstation.org
Jewish Black History at the MJCCA
Two Special Programs – Free and Open to the Community
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) invites the community to two fascinating speakers in celebration of Black History Month, as they discuss topics related to Jewish and African-American relations. Both programs are free and open to the community.
More information: //atlantajcc.org/blackhistory or call 678.812.4070.
Monday, February 10, 10:00 – 11:00 am
Growing Up Black and Jewish
Speaker: Dr. John Eaves
Raised in a middle-class family in Jacksonville, FL, John Eaves learned the value of hard work, education, and service from a young age. John’s grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica with big dreams, but life was not easy for a black, Jewish man. He faced racism, religious discrimination, and financial trouble, but despite these obstacles he raised a large family, instilling the values of hard work, faith, and serving the community. Inspired by the legacy of his family, John has dedicated his life to learning and service. After graduating from Morehouse College, John pursued his master’s at Yale University. He was Director of the Atlanta Office of the Peace Corps and has served on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Through his career in local politics, John seeks to bring opportunity to his constituents through policies that stimulate economic growth, reduce crime, and bring social and financial security to an ethnically and religiously diverse population.
Thursday, February 27, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
A Select History of Black and Jewish Relations in Savannah, GA
Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins
Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins was taught to read at 4 years old by his Jewish neighbors, the Rubins, in Savannah, GA. The Rubins were the first Jewish family Jeffrey knew, and they became his great friends and influenced his life in many significant ways. In 1976, Jeffrey was the first graduate from Savannah State College to earn a Ph.D. He went on to teach, and later retired from a beloved position as a professor of American History and Economics at Savannah State at the age of 52. For the next eight years, he worked as an administrator for the Savannah library system and for a local nursing home. Jeffrey also worked for the Jewish Educational Alliance for 10 years, and most recently decided to return to those roots by taking a support services position at the MJCCA. He believes Jewish people set an example for the world, valuing a good education, love, and family as most important.
More information: //atlantajcc.org/blackhistory or call 678.812.4070.
Capitalist Sage: Brennen Dicker on the Business of Film Festivals [Podcast]
In this episode of the Capitalist Sage podcast, Brennen Dicker, board member of the upcoming Atlanta Jewish Film Festival shares with hosts Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini all the ins and outs of how this fantastic film fest got started and details about the exciting events to come in 2020.
“…What I really enjoy about this festival is that it is a time to get people together and converse and talk about issues that a lot of times people don’t… want to talk about, or they just haven’t had the time to actually sit down and talk to each other. You find so many more similarities through a cinematic experience… or you learn something new about an individual or a particular community.”Brennen Dicker
Atlanta jewish film festival, Board Member
Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Hey Rico, how’re you doing today?
Rico: [00:00:47] Hey, Karl. Excellent. Thank you.
Karl: [00:00:49] Why don’t we introduce our sponsor for today?
Rico: [00:00:51] Sure. Atlanta Tech Park here in the city of Peachtree Corners, actually in Tech Park Atlanta. Kind of fun of the way that wraps that one, but we’re in this place they let, the Tech Park is an accelerator different from an incubator. But it’s a great place to think of. We work in an acute, better environment, so lots of tech companies here. This podcast studio that we’re working out of as well as, as events that they put on here, like big technology showcases, film festivals, all sorts of different activities. The Asian film festival kickoff here, launches in the Southeast. They had the FinTech event that happens here. So just, you know, and more and more. Lots more to come. So a great place to network, meet entrepreneurs, people. And the local business community, and if you go outside, you can flash your phone and get a ride on Ollie, the driverless shuttle that takes you up right now in Peachtree Parkway. So just, it’s a great place to stop by and visit, especially if you want to get into the entrepreneurial business community in Peachtree Corners.
Karl: [00:01:55] Right. Absolutely.
Karl: [00:01:57] Well, today we are excited, to, to talk about film festivals (and) the business of film festivals and what that’s like. And we’re honored to have our guest today, Brennan Dicker, who was a board member of the Atlanta Jewish film festival, which is coming up in early January, or May actually.
Brennen: [00:02:17] Start is February 10th. Tickets go on sale January 27
Karl: [00:02:22] And so we’re going to talk a little bit about what it’s like to put on a film festival. How it helps the community, some of the business of that. But why don’t we start off by you telling us a little bit about yourself.
Brennen: [00:02:33] Sure. My name is Brennan Dicker. I, my day job is the executive director of Creative Media Industries Institute for Georgia State University. And that’s where I teach approximately 900 students. Media entrepreneurship in game design in four year programs there. And I’ve been very fortunate just to be a member of the film intelligent community here in Atlanta for the last 15 years. I started in film and television 30 years ago at 16 as a running in as an intern, getting coffee for producers and I was fortunate enough to make a career out of that. And I spent some of my time in Chicago creating my own production company and doing a lot of
work there in sports and Commercial work as well as a PBS documentaries. And then was fortunate enough to come down here to Atlanta and get tied into more of the post production world of the business and production. And then, you know, just all of what I was doing on various boards. I sat on the board of Savannah College of Art and Design, the advisory board for them, and shared their advisory board as well as Georgia Production Partnership, which does a lot of work shared with them. And then I got a call one day to join a JFF 10 years ago, and it was just a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful community to work with.
Karl: [00:03:52] Fabulous. I noticed, you know, you’ve been along the ride as in Georgia, the film industry has exploded. How does that help the Atlanta Jewish film festival, you know, gain people and improve over the years?
Brennen: [00:04:11] Well, I think, you know, from my perspective and with the Film Intelligence Senate that happened in 2008 that brought in a lot of people from Hollywood and New York and all around basically all around the country to come in. And so people are looking for things to do. And you know, in the film community, a lot of people that are, you know, directors of photography, various crew members, you know, it gives them an opportunity to actually go and see some of their friends films. And I’ll be at an AA, JFF or one of the other film festivals in the state as well. But it’s just a wonderful opportunity to bring those people into our community and show them, you know, really find works and that we’ve got great, a great film festival here, and via one of the largest film festivals, Jewish film festivals in the world. Also the largest largest film festival in Atlanta.
Karl: [00:04:58] Oh, wow. So why don’t we tell people a little bit about the history of the film festival so people get a kind of context.
Brennen: [00:05:07] You know, this was, this is 20 years in the making now. This is our 20th year. I can’t imagine, you know, when, when they started, it was a little less than, I think 800 people that showed up to do a Jewish film festival for a couple of days. It was nothing like it is now at 18 days. Festivals started, that in itself was, you know, as it grew through the years. It was you know, a very slow growth process. But I will tell you that Kenny Blank is the executive director. Kenny had a goal of wanting to make JFF, one of the largest film festivals, not only in the state in Georgia, but also the largest Jewish film festival in the world. And he told me this 10 years ago, and, you know, I thought, you know, this guy has a plan. And he had a plan with this committee. A steering committee to make it work. And so he moved in that direction and we were able to, a couple of years ago, say that we were the largest Jewish film festival in the world. Now we compete with the San Francisco Jewish film festival, and it’s always seems to be going back and forth on numbers. But just to have that growth, that phenomenal growth and also a community that backs it is so important. And you know, we just, we were able to get the right people involved. And I think the right people have been involved from the beginning. Of you know, making, creating a foundation for the festival and creating awareness about the festival because really the half is really a cinematic exploration of the Jewish experience. And I, you know, first and foremost, and I think that, you know, with a strong Jewish community that we
have in Atlanta, that’s one thing. But then what we’ve tried to do, especially in the last decade, is branch out into other communities because it’s all about storytelling. You know, whether it’s a comedy, a drama, and people can associate with the films. And I think that’s why it’s been so successful because over we, I think we have 25% now that are non-Jewish and they’ve come to the film festival. They see something there and they, they see stories and they see good storytelling. You had films and so there are so many people drawn into this film festival every night.
Rico: [00:07:11] Absolutely. One of the things that, that I know has been a positive experience for me. I’ve enjoyed film festivals for years. I grew up in New York and they had a lot of film festivals, but it was one of the great ways to explore other cultures and stories and see it in a creative way. Here in the Metro Atlanta area, I don’t know, if plenty of people realize that they have this access to storytelling and art. That’s, that’s here. What would you say for folks that have never visited there, what would that experience be like when they come and visit the film fest?
Brennen: [00:07:46] Well, I think that it’s one of, you know, obviously a traditional film festival. We have the speakers that come, we usually have a producer, director tied to a lot of the films that are coming, or an actor or an actress. And so that in itself is, is great to have a Q&A when you actually have a personal experience going on. But one of the things that we’ve prided ourselves, especially in the last couple of years, is making it an experience at the theater. So you may have a, you may have a film, like we did last year called Judaism, which was a taste of Montreal where a documentary on these two Jewish guys that went around talking about various places to eat in Montreal. And then after the screening, we all had bagels. We all had, you know, various foods that they were talking about, which was a fantastic way to tie it together. But you have to make in many respects now. We don’t do that with every film, obviously, but there are many things that we try to tie in with the, with the festival, be it music, food, culture, great speakers, just people that come in because you have to really make this an experience for your audience now because your audience has many choices as to where they, where they, where they can get their entertainment. And so it’s not like, let’s say in the 90s. When in the Indies were so big and festivals were so big where you would go out because you couldn’t see these films on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon because there were no Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. So you had an experience where you knew people were going to come out, but now you really have to really be savvy with your audience and make sure that you’re targeting the right people for this and making it an experience.
Rico: [00:09:24] How does, Netflix has the streaming work with that because, I mean, are all the films not online or some films online, but then they’re at the festival also?
Brennen: [00:09:33] Yeah, I, you know, it depends year to year, but you know, obviously we’ve had, I think over 30 world premiers. I think that that was it as far as what we were looking at. And so with that, there’s going to be some films that are better that are already streaming, but for the most part, we’re trying to get films that are, you know, first run, or at least that year that
this their first run. But there are films out there that will stream and you know, people could go see them. Obviously, we’d like to have them come to the festival and have that experience like with the food or people talking to those. You know, you’d like to hear how the director got to that story. That’s one of the beauties of, you know, coming to the festival is, you know, after the, after the film is done and to have an app, a Q&A with the, with the producer or the director, or the actor, that actor or actress that was a part of that. That’s a huge, huge deal for us.
Rico: [00:10:23] I think some people don’t even understand that the Jewish film festivals that, you know, they might think Jewish Israel. Films come from all over the world, all different languages.
Brennen: [00:10:33] Exactly. And it’s amazing, all different themes. I mean, we have films that are, you know, from South America, from Africa, from Asia. It runs the gamut and, and that, and I think that what I pride myself in on specifically with the festival is. We’ve had such a good job of film selection over the last couple of years, and it gets stronger each year. That you just, you’re blown away by all of the films that are there. I mean, it’s not, you’re not just talking about two or three films out of 60 or 70 that are good. You’re talking about all of them have been selected out of, I think we had, I think 700 films last year that out of 70. So you only a 10% that were actually submitted. It was, it was a ridiculous amount of films that actually gets submitted. But that that has really given us a quality that we just have never seen.
Rico: [00:11:27] Are there film fees that people have to, that are paid for the submission for entries? Or, no, it’s not, it’s not an entry like. It’s not, there’s no awards at the end. There’s no fan awards or anything.
Brennen: [00:11:38] We’re trying to get to that. I think that’s one of the things we’re trying to do. We do have, and we do have an award as far as the audience award, and we have a jury prize award for that. So there is, as far as entry fees on the films themselves, I’ll have to look into that to see what that, what that is. If there is any it would be, it would be minimal at most if we were to do that, but it is something that we’re now looking at, you know, getting a jury. We had a jury together last year and a student jury as well. So that, that in itself again, and to see who the audience award winner is, we usually try to replay that film later on after the festival.
Karl: [00:12:14] That’s what’s great about film festival. So, new and young filmmakers have an opportunity to get their work shown by more than the traditional Hollywood machine that would dictate. So I could see young people that are interested in film and interested in entertainment being a really strong, big demographic to go after they get there. What are some of the things you do to outreach to younger folks and the families to get them to come to the festival?
Brennen: [00:12:42] We are a JFF. Obviously we have the film festival, which is, you know, our brand there, but we’re really trying to make a year long, you know, experience out of that. And one of the things that we offer as a JFF on campus, and specifically we’ve been working with Emory university the last couple of years to premiere some films on campus at Emory. Now
again, we’re going to branch out to other institutions or colleges and universities around the state to make that even more accessible. But we’ve found it very successful to get, you know, a younger generation of coming into. Just to experience it as some of the, you know, lineup that we’ve had. So that’s one of the areas. And we have a specific group within our steering committee that are really focused on the younger generation, you know, the millennials of getting them and getting them to come out specifically to either one or a couple of our films during the festival, but then have parties during the year that make it an annual all around experience. Because one way that a festival, film festival will survive is to create your own programming. And that’s something that we, along with other festivals that are, you know, that are larger, are seeing that you need to keep it, you need to keep the brand out there and a presence out there. And so how you do that can be through the on campus, what we were talking about. We have Seanna bash, which is more of an art and music exploration in Jewish culture and history with that and where we’re doing art and showing in that way, which is a phenomenal event that we’re looking at continuing this year. And there’s a number of other events through the year that we’re looking at. The just will, it’s touchpoint, so people see what we’re doing throughout the year on its head.
Karl: [00:14:34] So we’ve got a couple of questions around, kind of the process. So you mentioned selection committee. How did that work and how do, what criteria it used? Who are the people that select? How did that part work?
Brennen: [00:14:46] There’s a committee on the steering, the steering committee that’s a selection committee of three or four folks that get together and they will then branch out. There’s a whole group of people who have been doing this now for 20 years now. Again, we’re talking about hundreds of volunteers that come in to this space. And they’re the age, the age ranges, you know on the thirties to seventies, eighties of people that will take the time to actually watch these films. So you have got a broad age range, a broad diversity of people that will take the time to do it. It’s, it is a commitment. You know, they’re watching films on the weekends and they have some, they break it down to where it’s manageable. But even, I think my mother was a part of this and she had to watch 20 or 30 films I think, you know, during this time. Which she loves. But I, you know, having the time to do that is a challenge. But we do have committed volunteers in a community that really is active in narrowing down, you know, the films. But it had, but they have to be watched.
Rico: [00:15:50] That’s similar to the Atlanta film festival, but that’s a side thing. You could actually volunteer to be part of that group that watches, but you have to commit to a certain amount of time.
Brennen: [00:15:59] Yeah. That’s how, that’s how it works. Unfortunately, we’ve just had a lot of people that enjoy the experience and also just getting a chance to see the first run.
Karl: [00:16:08] Can someone volunteer to get the shirt?
Brennen: [00:16:10] Sure. Yes. They can go to AJFF.org and volunteer. Definitely.
Karl: [00:16:15] And then the criteria that would be for next year.
Brennen: [00:16:17] Next year, of course. Yeah.
Karl: [00:16:21] Why? What are some of the things you look at for films that might help influence?
Brennen: [00:16:26] Well, obviously it’s films that are seen through a Jewish lens. And so there’s a, you know, an aspect of having that incorporated within the film is the most important. And it can be, I mean, we’ve done the storyline, but obviously that’s something that has to be a part of who we are. Aside from that, we take every kind of film. We had a horror genre last year, which is a horror film there. That was, you know, just, it was great. But made in Israel, I mean, obviously there are certain films that are coming to us, with different, the different themes. But, it’s a very wide range of films that we would, you know, look at selecting. And we have one from Georgia this year. It was selected as well, a short. Our shorts, by the way, we get, we’ve had a lot of ’em. Really dynamic shorts from younger people as well, just people that are, that are going to come in. And so the short film category, at least from last year, was fantastic. And I look forward to seeing what we have on docket for this year.
Karl: [00:17:24] It may seem obvious, but describe the difference between a short and a feature film.
Brennen: [00:17:29] You know, if you think of a short film you’re looking at probably no more than 20 minutes long. You know, shorter narrative or shorter documentary. Feature films, we always kind of look at them. You know, between, I would say 75 to 90 minutes or over 70 over 75 minutes could, could be a length of a feature. You know, there are exceptions to that rule, but I would say that really kind of tells, that tells the tale as far as what it is. It’s all storytelling. But obviously feature films are a longer, longer length.
Karl: [00:17:59] So a lot of film festivals, there’s a lot of distributors come to find films to distribute. Do that, how does that process work? How do they get involved in that?
Brennen: [00:18:11] Well, we have a number of, obviously we have a number of relationships with distributors worldwide, and that’s how we get the selection of films that we do. You know, I think that in the future with all of the films that are being shot here, you know, the methodology or we’re hoping that we can see more distributors actually be, you’re coming to Atlanta to recognize some of the filmmakers that we have locally here. So it, it’s not, we really have, we reach out to a lot of district distributors worldwide, but I personally would love to have them come to the festival and find films that are, that are being looked at as well.
Rico: [00:18:47] This is less than like, the film festival on the one in Denver. I mean, Sunday, or Sundance rather. Yeah, so you’re not going to find a film where someone’s going to buy 2 million, paid 10 million for.
Brennen: [00:18:58] It’s really the audiences really for the Atlanta and Georgia community, Atlantic community in general. And so that, that’s kind of, I mean, our focus. I mean, when you think of Tribeca, and when you think of Sundance or South by Southwest, there are few, or even Toronto with TIFF, Toronto International Film Festival. Those specific festivals are really for the distribution side of things. And, and quite frankly, a lot of the, you know, the first run films are trying to get in there so they can get distribution. But it’s really, you know, that model is changed quite a bit, you know, with Netflix, with Amazon, with just streaming services in general. So you don’t have a, I mean, we’re seeing a transformation as to how films are being distributed and on various platforms that we don’t even know exist yet. So it’s, indie film is going through a transition right now with distribution, and I think that they’re, not as reliant on Hollywood per se. I mean they are going to these, they are going to the Amazons, the Apples, and trying to see if they can get distribution deals separate from that. I think that we’re seeing that happen right now.
Rico: [00:20:03] There’s so many streaming services with Apple coming out. Then you have Amazon Prime and Netflix. And the smaller ones that do like horror movies only
Brennen: [00:20:10] That’s right.
Rico: [00:20:11] And the streaming that way.
Brennen: [00:20:13] I want to understand that they’re all looking for content. I mean, that’s there. They’re all trying to vibe for that, those eyes. And so it’s important for them to try it. Find that content anywhere they can and if it’s cheaper for them in some respects than actually producing their own content.
Rico: [00:20:26] And what’s interesting, what time was on video at one point, and they don’t just show other people’s like major releases. You can be a producer of your own small little indie film if you are a high school kid even, and you can actually put it up. And people will pay. There’s a process to be able to pay for that viewing of that video inside.
Brennen: [00:20:44] We see that with Georgia state students and students that are going on YouTube, creating their own content, and if they’re getting so many eyes, then eventually they, you know, YouTube will pay them for that. Now again, that you have to be in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of views. But that’s the, these are the models that we’re seeing coming out of this. And it’s a quite, it’s quite a disruptor.
Karl: [00:21:06] What did the impact on the community that you’ve seen the film festival have?
Brennen: [00:21:11] You know, I have seen in the last 10 years, obviously it’s a, you come together with the Jewish community and I, and it’s so well supported, like I said before. But what I’ve also seen is conversations with other organs, with other groups, organizations would be at, we’ve had specific talks with the Muslim community that have come out and shared it in films that we’ve done. And we also have the Hispanic community has been strong as well. So there’s, there’s all these, what I really enjoy about this festival is that it is a time to get people together and converse and talk about issues that a lot of times that people don’t, either want to talk about, or they just, they just haven’t had the time to actually sit down and talk to each other. And there’s a, you know, you find so many more similarities through a cinematic experience, you know, that I think some, or you learn something new about an individual or a, you know, particular community.
Karl: [00:22:20] Do you get a sense of the economic impact? And some of the theaters. Can you tell us a little bit about the theaters in the area that, that host this and the impact that that has meaning?
Brennen: [00:22:30] Yeah, it’s well, obviously we have over, you know, close to 40,000 that come to see the festival in an 18 day period. So that alone, as far as the economic impact of them coming out to the theaters, we currently in 2020, we have five different theaters that we’re going to be showing, and we try to be as strategic as possible with that. Having so many theaters inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter. We are currently, this year we’ll have Landmark Midtown, which is a great, great spot for us. The Plaza theater, what another wonderful theater to have in the lineup, a perimeter point outside. And then Tara cinema, which has been a stable for us for years as far as showing and Sandy Springs performing arts center. Who came on last year, and that’s been a great home for us, for the larger films that we want to bring in because it just, you can bring in so many hundreds of people in that, in that venue. It’s a beautiful venue to be at. So we’re excited about all of those theaters. We do our opening February, February 10th at the Cobb Performing Arts Center, and that’s always a huge draw. I’d say we had, I think we had over 2,000 last year. It was, it was between, I think 1,500 to 2,000 alone, just for the opening night. Which is very exciting and it really kicks off everything. And then we close on the 27th at the Sandy Springs performing arts center.
Rico: [00:23:56] I got my two tickets.
Brennen: [00:23:59] So that, to me, I think the opening is always the most exciting time for me because of all the people that are there, the energy that’s there. And if there’s an opportunity for you to come to the, we have a gala or something before and there’s a tasting of different restaurants and they bring in chefs from not only here in Atlanta, but also from Israel that come in and it’s just, it’s, it’s…
Rico: [00:24:22] I’m looking forward to that. That’s wonderful. I got that pass.
Brennen: [00:24:26] There you go. There you go. Exactly.
Karl: [00:24:27] What do you do if local businesses wanted to get involved with this in some way? Are there ways for them to do that?
Brennen: [00:24:33] Yeah, I think, you know, from my perspective. And now being off the steering committee, I would say that the best thing is to go to a AJFF.org and look into the point of contact. But we certainly have a number of contacts that you can reach out to there on the development side and on this, on the sponsorship and Dillon side, but also just inquiring about a JFF. And what we’re all about is to, as to see more of the history and also seeing the lineup. I know we have six films that are lined up right now that just came out, but clearly we’ll have a number of more coming out in the next couple of weeks and it would give people a better idea as to where to go.
Karl: [00:25:13] What, when would that website, well, one of the things that, film festival allow is for people to continue to learn and come outside and get out of home. When you see this, this trend around Netflix and staying at home on one end. And you have blockbusters like Avengers and Marvel. I’ve noticed this trend of these movies that used to come out that would get these followings, but they don’t seem to have a space. I don’t know if you remember years ago, a movie like the featured in with that do what it did back then when that came out with Harrison Ford, it was a big movie. No special effects per se, just the story that was told but now you see, you see a lot of the big blockbuster and in between, I don’t know that you can name five or six movies. It’s the biggest blockbusters.
Rico: [00:26:01] It’s like Frozen two, right? Let me see, next week. You have young girls that will want to go see that. And my daughter, who’s 22 wants to.
Karl: [00:26:12] But it seems to me that every time the film industry talks about how, or, you know, they talk about no one’s coming to the theaters and I look at it and sign it. There’s no movies to come to the theaters to see.
Brennen: [00:26:29] Right. And the challenge with that and the challenge that the theater industry has with that is because they rely on those blockbusters now entirely. But what’s happened and what’s changed is that you have, again, you have the Netflix, you have the Amazon, you have HBO, you have these various networks and streaming platforms that are putting billions of dollars into content and they’re doing a great job of telling the stories. And so really, if you go back to the Sopranos, as one of the first series that really started looking at creating a series that would be feature like in each episode, and now think about all of the shows that we can stream that have that type of caliber of talent and storytelling ability. There are, there are so many. I mean, I’m always being inundated to see certain things or when I was working in the industry to watch certain shows that I was associated with all the time, but there’s so many out there. So yes, there is a challenge with that as to how do you draw people in when they can see those particular shows on their, in their theater at home.
Karl: [00:27:43] So what do seeing films alive in theaters with a community of folks, what does that really offer people that’s different?
Brennen: [00:27:54] So you have to educate people to that. And what I mean by that, I think from my age, which I, I’ll date myself now, but someone that’s in their mid forties to mid fifties and up. You know, we went to the theater. That’s where we, that’s where you would go to see the latest movie that, there was a community there. And I think that we’re, our demographic is fine. We get it, and we’re the ones that are actually going out and participating. Not only I’m going to the theater on a regular basis, but also just going to film festivals, going to JFF. That’s a, that’s a crowd that we, we know that we’ve got them there to come out to see that. But with millennials, with the younger generation, again, the choices, and I see this with my daughters, they’re on an iPad cause they’re, and they don’t need to watch a movie on a large screen right now. The experience I’ve seen Frozen two, they want to see that at the theater. So there are, there are exceptions to that rule, but I think that you have to, again, you have to emphasize, you have to show that there’s an experience with that to get people out. And to have the shared community as I think all of us that have been to festivals see the benefit of that. Because at home, they’re not going to be able to ask a question to the producer, director or get a backstory and they may not be able to experience all there is with seeing friends and just getting to meet new people. But it has to be something where it’s community driven and it’s something that makes sense for them to get out and go to a theater.
Karl: [00:29:27] And especially making it into an event where people, we get excited going out to see. And even when you used to go to a movie before you knew if it was good or bad or, you knew how many tomatoes go in, you’d roll the dice. And you’d be surprised when it was better and sometimes you’d like, you’d wish you had that two hours back.
Brennen: [00:29:49] That’s right.
Rico: [00:29:49] But wasn’t that a great experience? You’re out with your family and your friends. I remember him leaving the Avengers, it was the first one, I think it was the first one. Where, you know, everyone, half the world disappears. Is that the first sentence from the first world war and we’re walking at the theater and it’s like thinning their hurt. They did. And it was a lottery. It wasn’t like, ah, we’re just going to choose people to, and my kids are listening to them talking. One of them says, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe the resources of the world would be saved, you know? So you get into those conversations, those conversations after you see the movie.
Brennen: [00:30:22] Exactly. And it’s something that’s, it’s great. It’s great a thought. It’s just, it’s a great opportunity just to talk to your family, you know, to have an end. We still do that with our kids going out. But again, it’s also a question of, you know, resources and going, okay, staying home at night. You’re working all week. You know, the last thing you think about doing is going to the theater. But again, if you can create an experience with it, one that’s positive and one that
makes sense and can lead to these discussions, then it’s something that we’re trying to do at JFF was get them out.
Karl: [00:30:59] There would be a time when you’d go and see a Woody Allen movie and it would lead to a series of conversations at dinner, at the word. Then it would extend, evening beyond, and so people went to movies to make them think more and to have that conversation where, you could still watch it at home on a streaming service. Sure. But do you have that same conversation with yourself after you watch it on your iPad? And that might be why film festivals like the Atlanta Jewish Film festival is, is really needed.
Brennen: [00:31:29] Oh yeah, definitely. And I, it’s one that, and I think that as long as you can, and again, we kind of own that space in February so people know it’s coming. I mean, it’s now, now we have 20 years of history. It’s a, it’s a time where you can then, you know, generate even we have phenomenal sponsors of the festival that had been with us for years, but they see that and they see the 40,000 people that are coming to it, and we’re you know, it’s just remarkable to see all the various groups of people in the community that it affects during that.
Karl: [00:32:03] Well, I’d love to, for you to remind us on how can folks get some more information about the festival and some of the key dates.
Brennen: [00:32:09] Of course, of course. And I would say that again, the festival starts February 10th. That runs 18 days, and ends February 27th or 28th, I believe. 27th of February of 2020. We will start selling tickets to the public January 27th online at AJFF.org. And you know, we just hope to have, we’re looking forward to having another great year and especially being the 20th, you know, that’s such a marquee year to have. So I, I know that we’re going to have a lot of various parties going on during the festival and there is, it’d be a quite a celebration for us.
Karl: [00:32:49] I love that. That’s around Valentine date. So it’s really great, a night out with the significant other.
Brennen: [00:32:57] And I’m sure we’ll program, you know, a Valentine’s day, you know, movie to go with that we’ll be thinking about.
Karl: [00:33:02] That’d be fabulous. And for the business owners out there to sponsorship opportunity, if you go on there and look for volunteering opportunities as well. And if you really love films for next year’s cycle, you could. You could be a volunteer at watching some, we’d love to have you. So we’d like to thank our guests, Brennan Dicker, the chair of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, one of the board members of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival for his time. And just telling us a little bit about the film industry and what some of the great things that are going on here in the local Atlanta community and all the different ways that people get could explore different cultures and connect. And if you want to give yourself a treat or a, probably even a great Christmas gift for somebody, inviting them out to a movie where they could explore
something different, might be a wonderful gift that gives them an experience more than just something that they can enjoy at home by themselves.
Brennen: [00:33:58] No doubt. And I do that every year with friends and family and new people that I meet just to get them out to show them what we’re doing or they JFF and, you know, and that it runs the gamut as far as the community and the family that I have in friends that participated. And they all come away with something positive from this family.
Karl: [00:34:19] Well, I want to, I’d like to thank Atlanta tech park for hosting our capitalist Sage podcast. If you’re looking to start a business or just want to network with like minded folks that are being entrepreneurial, as you see here, we talk film, we talk technology, we talk business, we talk finance. We bring all of these different aspects of the community together and just create an environment that supports entrepreneurs, business owners, here. So Atlanta Tech Park in Peachtree corners is, we’re just grateful to have this room and space to be able to do this. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, in Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are available to consult on how they can grow their business. Or when they’re ready to exit their business. So if they’re looking to start a new venture and get into a business, we have a team of folks that are dedicated to support that business community here in the local area. And Rico, thank you. Tell me a little bit about what you’ve got coming up
Rico: [00:35:17] Quite a few things. I think we were working on the next issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine. There’ll be on February, March, the end of January, but it’s the February, March issue. It’s about technology companies. So that I believe is the cover story on that one. We’re also a sponsor of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which is exciting. That’s how I got the passes. So that, that’s cool. Can’t wait to see them. I know there’s at least six movies I probably want to see. But even knowing, well, no, without even knowing which ones they are. I mean, last year there was a dozen, I’d like some good stuff there. If you go to living in PeachtreeCorners.com we just did our 20 under 20 in the city and it’s gone really well. I mean, we had a photo shoot here in Atlanta tech park that we shared with everyone. We did many interviews with the kids. 20 kids that are, have lots going on.
Karl: [00:36:11] Fabulous. Great.
Rico: [00:36:12] It’s got a lot of play on that. So the kids are wonderful. It was tough to pick. Those two were almost as tough when you pick those movies, more submissions. And just to pick 20 of them was, was kinda tough. But, so we have that going. And of course, if you’re looking to do product videos and stuff, I had a chance to do a stop motion animation for a product video. Yeah, the first time I did it though. So it was kind of interesting when we have to pull it off. It was, it was cool. So check out MightyRockets.com. That’s my website for that type of work. And I used to be a film production major. That’s why when I was in college and in Brooklyn college. So that’s why I love this festival. Mary’s food and, and in a film, so, my locks and my Jewish. I was up in New Jersey and we had great bagels up there.
Karl: [00:37:05] Yeah.
Rico: [00:37:06] Yeah, absolutely. That’s what we have going on, but, I’m sure I missed something on there.
Karl: [00:37:10] Oh, no, nope. Yeah, he did a great job. So, stay tuned. We’re coming to the end of the year, and we’ll continue to bring you great episodes talking to folks in the community about businesses, about our organizations that are doing great things like the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. And so we look forward to continuing to give you great episodes. Thank you everyone.
Brennen: [00:37:33] I want to thank both of you for your time. It’s great. I appreciate it.
Karl: [00:37:36] Thank you very much as well for being a guest today.
Rico: [00:37:40] Thank you guys.
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- Rabbi Yossi Lerman, talking about Chabad of Gwinnett, Community Outreach and his New Book
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- ART Station Theatre presents Ray Bradbury Live (forever)
- Registration is Now Open for Summer Camps at Wesleyan School
- Wesleyan School Honors Coxhead, Delk, and Stafford As 2020 Inductees to Wesleyan School Athletics Circle of Honor