Out & About

Macon Film Festival expands, welcomes Burt Reynolds to this year’s festival

During the course of its first decade, the Macon Film Festival, affectionately called MAGA, has grown along with the independent filmmaking industry it promotes.

“Independent filmmaking has grown exponentially due to the fact that Hollywood ... is a money industry; Hollywood is not making cool, artsy films. Hollywood isn’t going to spend money on a strong story the general public doesn’t go to see,” said festival director Terrell Sandefur.

“The explosive growth in independent film making has come from people having a story to tell, and Hollywood won’t pick it up or finance the movie, so they just make it on their own. More people are interested in filmmaking than ever before; you can do it on an iPhone.”

This weekend’s film screenings begin at 10 a.m. Friday at three venues in downtown: the Cox Capitol Theatre, the Douglass Theatre and the 567 Center for Renewal. Music, Southern, narrative, documentary and animation categories all return, and the festival has added an LGBT category this year as well.

“I am very excited for us to have added that category. I fought for it because it opens the festival up to a larger audience and is a very creative category. The films are artsy, cool, funny -- they run the gamut -- and it makes us a little more progressive to filmmakers around the world,” Sandefur said.

Rather than being submitted by the filmmaker, the festival’s special screenings are chosen by programmer Tabitha Walker and include Friday’s showing of “Deliverance,” with special guest Burt Reynolds appearing for a question and answer session after the film.

“ ‘Deliverance’ is an iconic Georgia-filmed movie. I contacted Warner Brothers and got an original 1972 film print; that’s a big deal,” Sandefur said. “Then we started going after the talent, and we all wanted Burt Reynolds. He started making films in Georgia well before it was fashionable to do so, and he has made a lot of films in Georgia.”

Reynolds’ film “Sharky’s Machine” will be shown Sunday, with the actor again interacting with audience members afterward.

The festival’s other special screening, “Slow West,” will be shown Saturday. Spotlight films include “Western,” “How Sweet the Sound: Blind Boys from Alabama” and “Live from New York!”

The first of three workshops, “Fundraising 101 for Filmmakers,” will begin at 10 a.m. Friday at the 567 Center. All of the workshops are free and open to the public; no festival pass is required to attend.

“Film festivals give independent filmmakers that platform to show their work,” Sandefur said. “The Macon Film Festival has developed a fantastic reputation as a very filmmaker-friendly festival, and Macon is really climbing the ladder to becoming one of the premier festivals.”

Purchase tickets or preview the festival schedule at www.MaconFilmFesti val.com.

Macon Film Festival Highlights

Workshop “Fundraising 101 for Filmmakers”: 10 a.m. July 17, the 567 Center for Renewal.

Workshop “The Professional Actor in Film and TV”: 2 p.m. July 17, the 567 Center for Renewal. With guest actor Robert Fieldsteel.

“Western”: 3 p.m. July 17, Cox Capitol Theatre, 382 Second St.

“Deliverance”: 8 p.m. July 17, Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. With special guest Burt Reynolds and Q&A following the screening.

Workshop “Behind the Boom”: 2 p.m. July 18, the 567 Center for Renewal. With guest boom operator Jason Lewis.

“Slow West”: 7:45 p.m. July 18, Douglass Theatre.

“How Sweet the Sound: Blind Boys from Alabama”: 10 a.m. July 19, Douglass Theatre

“Live from New York!”: 1:30 p.m. July 19, Douglass Theatre.

“Sharky’s Machine”: 5 p.m. July 19, Douglass Theatre. With Burt Reynolds available for a Q&A following the screening