Since its inception 21 years ago, SCAD Savannah Film Festival has become a key stop for filmmakers and celebrities on the award season festival circuit. Hosted by the Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD) and qualified as the nation’s largest university run festival (over 63,000 attendees in 2017), the week-long programming is rooted in education and student integration, elevated by top tier premiere galas, and set against a backdrop bathed in Spanish moss and historic charm.
This year, coveted celebrities including Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Grant, Armie Hammer, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Amandla Stenberg graced the festival to accept their respective ICON achievement awards, screen their films, and teach intimate masterclasses with SCAD students; something each actor noted as being a selling point that enhanced their experience in Savannah. In an era of thought-provoking, societal influencing storytelling, it’s clear mentoring Hollywood’s tomorrow has never been more important than today.
SCAD student mentorship has always been a pivotal component of the festival, with over 700 undergrad volunteers and students lining the streets to get a peek at the red carpets, introduce films, and step out in their finest three-piece suits. Students even had the opportunity to build monumental festival installations, including a collaboration with award-winning costume designer Terry Dresbach creating this year’s Starz Outlander Season Four Costume Exhibit at the SCAD Museum of Art, which debuted alongside the premiere screening with cast and crew present.
Says Dresbach, “The SCAD exhibition team’s expertise in presenting material, lighting design, staging, every aspect has been a revelation. At the end of 6 years of designing the costumes on Outlander, one of the experiences I will most treasure is my interaction with SCAD students. What a remarkable, inspiring group of young artists they are.”
In addition to elevating the next generation of Hollywood, SCAD Savannah Film Festival is also raising consciousness and combating industry gender parity issues by highlighting women-helmed programming in competition including the upcoming Nicole Kidman starring noir-thriller Destroyer, by director Karyn Kusama, Nancy by Christina Chloe, and Kindergarten Teacher from Maggie Gyllenhaal.
President Paula Wallace (who has reached a celebrity status among Savannah-ites) commented, “SCAD created the Wonder Woman Panel Series because more than 55% of all SCAD students are women — and that percentage is even higher in our entertainment industry degree programs, including performing arts (69%) and production design (84%). SCAD ensures that these ambitious imminent film professionals know they have a leadership role and voice in the entertainment industry.”
Refinery29’s very own Shatterbox director AM Lukas spoke on the Wonder Woman directors panel alongside Heather Graham (Half Magic), Polly Draper (Stella’s Last Weekend), Hannah Marks (After Everything), Christina Chloe (Nancy), and Karyn Kusama (Destroyer).
One Cambodian Family For My Pleasure Please competed in SCAD Savannah Film Festival’s short film competition, snagging the Jury Award for best screenwriting. The narrative short stars Emily Mortimer as a Czechoslovakian refugee who yearns to adopt a family of Cambodian refugees and provide them with a better life in Fargo, ND.
Travel and accommodations for the author were provided by SCAD for the purpose of writing this story.
In 2017, only 8% of top 100 films were directed by women. Refinery29 is dedicated to change that. Shatterbox is an award-winning short-film series dedicated to spotlighting the voices of female filmmakers, and providing emerging and established talent the support and opportunity to realise their vision and reach new audiences through storytelling. Born as a rallying cry to counteract staggering industry statistics, the series champions gender parity storytelling in Hollywood, both on and off the screen.