Fort Smith International Film Festival offers 148 films Aug. 25-26

Fort Smith International Film Festival offers 148 films Aug. 25-26

It’s Christmas in July for the makers of 148 movies from all over the world. They’ve just been selected for the third year of the Fort Smith International Film Festival, happening Aug. 25-26.

“We had a record number — 452 films — submitted to our third annual festival,” says a delighted Brandon Chase Goldsmith, the festival’s founder. “The programming team, with the help of 113 screeners, curated the 148 movies — 48 hours! — that will be shown at this year’s festival. Official selection notifications were sent off to the filmmakers, and now we are in the process of finalizing this year’s jury who will pick the winners.”

The selection process is a wonderful but grueling experience, Goldsmith says.

“Submissions closed on May 25, with filmmaker notifications being sent out June 25. The official selection process takes every bit of those 30 days,” he says. “This year I watched 333 films — 115 hours; our programming intern Tori Buie went through 214 — 83 hours; and our two top screeners viewed 175 and 174 films for a combined total of 119 hours. Every one of the 452 film entries was screened by at least three different people.

“The selection process has three major components,” he explains. “First, we reduced the 452 entries into a group of the highest rated films. An important function the 113 screeners do is let us know what genre the movies are, because they are submitted as either a short or feature. The second step is dividing the movies into categories and figuring out which of the four rooms at TempleLive they will show in. The third and final step is absolutely heartbreaking, because at this point you love all the films, but there are only some many hours in the day, and you have to make cuts to fit the schedule.”

Goldsmith says they don’t know it until this story, but four regional filmmakers will be featured on opening night — Jason Pitts’ “When the Stairs Creek”; Daniel Wingfield’s “Lowlifes”; Marc Crandall’s “Banana Triangle Six”; and from the Cherokee Nation, Christopher Coursey’s “The River Woe.”

“Our goal is to highlight and nurture our region’s growing talent, and these films are excellent examples,” Goldsmith says.

But “as an international film festival, we screen lots of movies from far-flung places,” he goes on. “This year we have films from over 40 countries, nations, and tribes, if you’re counting. What I love the most is the international community of filmmaker alums we are building. The top of that list is our Ukrainian filmmaker Olga Artushevska, who literally made a movie while in wartime. Ms. Artushevska’s simple but poignant story, ‘My Unfortunate Cats,’ is dedicated to the animal owners who did not abandon their pets during the war. As an animal lover, this film really hits home.

“We also have a movie from Fort Smith’s sister city, Cisterna, Italy. Cristian Scardigno is the artistic director for the Cisterna Film Festival, and his movie, ‘I Wanted to Be Vittorio Gassman,’ based in 1962, gives a nod to the classic Italian comedy.”

Goldsmith promises he still has some surprises up his sleeve to come later. In the meantime, he says tickets went on sale July 7. Admission is $15 in advance, $20 day of.

“Where else can you see 148 films, 48 hours of movies, for $15,” he enthuses. “I can’t think of a better deal. And if you want to hang out with filmmakers, directors, actors, and producers while enjoying our VIP lounge, getting first choice of seats, and more, then our limited VIP tickets, which are only $100 each, are what you are looking for.

“The Fort Smith International Film Festival is an experience, with films playing in four rooms starting at 10 a.m. and going till 11 p.m. with a midnight after party at the historic Masonic TempleLive!”



Fort Smith International Film Festival

WHEN — Aug. 25-26

WHERE — TempleLive in Fort Smith

COST — $15 beginning July 7; $20 day of; $100 VIP pass


Categories: Theater