Vince Dooley film kicks off Macon film festival

One of the hallmarks of the fourth annual Macon Film & Video Festival is the attraction of big names serving as a draw.

Two of the biggest names in Georgia — Gov. Sonny Perdue and former University of Georgia athletics director Vince Dooley — were at the Grand Opera House on Wednesday night for the festival’s opening film, “Vince Dooley: The Other Side of the Football.”

Dooley, who coached football at UGA for 25 years, was at the helm of the team that won the 1980 national title.

Terrell Sandefur, event coordinator for the festival nicknamed “MAGA,” said the appearance of Dooley and Perdue signifies how the event has grown.

“My gosh, this is the best kickoff we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ve got the governor of Georgia and Vince Dooley kicking us off. There’s a lot of buzz going around.”

About 200 people showed up Wednesday afternoon before the screening of the documentary about Dooley’s life to meet with him and get autographs and pictures.

“I wanted my son to meet the governor and Coach Dooley,” said Doug Fincher, who brought his 12-year-old son Brice to the event. “This is the first time I’ve gone (to MAGA). I heard about it a lot this year — the marketing has been a lot better. I plan on coming with my wife to some of the films later this week.”

The Dooley documentary, created by the late Andrew Permar, had its first-ever public showing Wednesday night, said Permar’s widow, Debbie, also a producer of the film.

“This was a project he had in the back of his mind for a number of years, to do a documentary on Coach Dooley,” Debbie Permar, who was presented with an award by Perdue before the film was screened, said. “I wanted his work to have the recognition. It’s a good film, and there hadn’t been one done on Coach Dooley. He was honored that (Dooley) let him tell his story. (This event) is very special and bittersweet.”

Dooley said the visit to MAGA was worth it to honor the Permars.

“Despite the subject, it’s a very well-done documentary,” Dooley said with a chuckle. “Andrew Permar left no stone unturned. He went to my hometown. He went all over the state. Everywhere I went, people were talking about his research. ... I’m excited to be here. It’s a great thing they are doing with this.”

The film festival will run through Sunday with films being shown at both the Cox Capitol Theatre and the Douglass Theatre. Former Oscar nominee Karen Black and Macon-born actress Carrie Preston are among the other names headlining MAGA, and both have films screening here over the weekend.

Perdue said he’s a fan of Macon’s film festival since it helps draw filmmaking talent to the state, and is a way to show off the state as a potential location for other filmmakers.

“It’s growing more famous every year,” Perdue said. “It’s an excellent thing for Macon and Middle Georgia, and for the whole state of Georgia. It helps attract filmmakers and films, and fulfills the state’s desire to have films made here. We have some beautiful sites here in Georgia.”

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, who presented Dooley with a key to the city before the screening, said MAGA adds to the quality of life in the city.

“It adds another dimension to entertainment here,” he said. “It allows us to see short films that we may not get to see in a movie theater. Presented in this fashion makes it all the more enjoyable.”

To contact reporter Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.