Hollywood moves to Jacksonville, one weekend only

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BY Allison Morse

In the early 1900s, Jacksonville was Hollywood. Well, not exactly, but it was the Mecca for winter filmmaking, providing an ideal climate that allowed movies to be made when the weather in New York did not.

However, due to many factors, the filmmaking industry packed up and headed west, leaving Jacksonville imaging what could have been. Although, for a few days the city can relive its Hollywood heyday during the Jacksonville Film Festival.

The eighth annual Jacksonville Film Festival, which takes place Oct. 14-17, includes an array of films, panels, workshops and parties. The four-day event occurs in different locations around Jacksonville, such as San Marco, Five Points and downtown, and aims to bring out film buffs from every area.

This community gathering is one of the reasons UNF screenwriting instructor Jennie Jarvis believes the festival is beneficial for all those who attend.

“Jacksonville is a huge city,” Jarvis said. “So this is a wonderful ground where everyone can experience art and culture together.”

She said she believes along with broadening horizons, the festival is also an excellent place to network.

“This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” Jarvis said.

She said industry executives will be coming into town, and the festival will host acting and screenwriting workshops — things that don’t happen too frequently in Jacksonville.

But former Jacksonville events can be seen on screen in some of the documentaries..

“The 904” tells the stories of residents effected by Jacksonville’s high murder rate. One of which is former Jacksonville Jaguar Richard Collier, who was paralyzed after being shot 14 times in front of a Riverside apartment building Sept. 2, 2008

However, not all of the documentaries showcasing Jacksonville are somber.

“Thespians” is a documentary that follows two Duval County schools, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and Stanton College Preparatory, on their journey to the world’s largest high school theatre competition.

Warren Skeels, co-executive director of the festival and the director and producer of the film, believes it will be one of this year’s crowd-pleasers.

“If people like ‘Glee’ or ‘American Idol,’ they will find ‘Thespians’ highly entertaining,” Skeels said.

But entertainment is not the only reason to attend. Corina Seaburn, a UNF broadcast journalism senior, plans on going with a different purpose.

“I’ve started writing, directing and producing,” Seaburn said. “And this might help get my name out there.”

But film doesn’t have to be your forte to appreciate the unique opportunity.

Jacksonville does not get a lot of independent films, Jarvis said. This is a chance for students to broaden their horizons; film does not always have to be what is shown by Hollywood film directors Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer.

“Film can be quieter, more intense,” she said.

Students who have no qualms with Bay’s ruckus can get their excitement fix at one of the festival’s parties, such as the Friday night’s Indie USA party or Saturday night’s 1920s-themed Happy Rum Gala.

The festival offers many event from which to chose, whether students have an attraction to film or wish to network, write or dress as a flapper.

For more information on the Jacksonville Film Festival, visit its website at jacksonvillefilmfestival.com.

Jacksonville Film Festival Schedule

Thursday, Oct. 14
Endure
A young woman was abducted and tortured; the only person who knows her location is dead. When detectives close in on her location, she is gone, and they could never have been prepared for what they find.
4-6:30 p.m.
San Marco Theatre
Photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_w8g8T1IGViY/S4fdYUzL-6I/AAAAAAAAAi8/uvcW0HqS-Tw/s400/Endure+lo-res.jpg

Friday, Oct. 15
Breaking and Entering
A documentary about three would-be Guinness World Record holders as they battle the odds in pursuit of global dominance.
2-4 p.m.
Five Points Theatre
Photo: http://www.toddtaylorbanjoman.com/21050_213656126269_213653501269_3318767_2650010_nqw.jpg

Saturday, Oct. 16
The 904
A documentary film of the real-life story of Jacksonville’s epidemic tide of violence.
3:30-4:30 p.m.
The Ritz Theater
Photo: http://southerndocumentaryfund.org/projects/the-904

Thespians
The story of four high school thespian troupes in Florida as they prepare for the largest high school theatre festival in the world.
3:30-6:30 p.m.
Florida Theatre
Photo: http://www.facebook.com/thespiansthemovie?filter=3#!/photo.php?fbid=10150256605635511&set=a.289763500510.327374.89895520510

Sunday, Oct. 17
Spoken Word
While back home visiting his ailing father, Cruz Montoya retreats to his old life, managing a club owned by a local crime boss. Fast action and easy money seduces him; he loses his identity, and almost his life, before he finds a way to heal his family, community and himself.
2:30-5:00 p.m.
Five Points Theatre
Photo: http://blog.80millionmoviesfree.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/spoken-word-movie-poster.jpg