Wasson helms Film Society, Festival grows with Goldsmith

Wasson helms Film Society, Festival grows with Goldsmith

The Fort Smith International Film Festival, having just completed its third year, is growing again for 2024. Brandon Chase Goldsmith announced this week that the new name for the Aug. 23-24 event will reflect that expansion — Fort Smith International Film Festival and MidAmerica Film Market.

Goldsmith will step aside as president of the non-profit River Valley Film Society to helm the film market. His colleague, Lynn Wasson, who was most recently interim executive director for Fort Smith’s Advertising and Promotion Commission, will take over film society leadership.

“No one loves Fort Smith more than Lynn,” John McIntosh film society vice president, said in a press release. “I’ve known her for over 25 years, working on countless community events, both large and small, and she has always been genuinely engaged and thoughtful. The Film Society and entire River Valley is lucky to have her.”

“I’m glad to hold down the base camp of the film society while Brandon forges ahead with the festival itself and creates a new entity, the film market,” Wasson says. “We have great board members and outstanding volunteers to help us grow.”

The MidAmerica Film Market will be operated by Goldsmith in partnership with Porter + Craig Media and Film Distribution, based in Hollywood. Keith Craig and Jeff Porter were keynote speakers at the 2023 festival and offered licensing agreements to five films from the festival — two from Arkansas, one from Oklahoma, one from Florida and one from Canada.

“While the first two years [of the festival] focused on exhibition, in 2023 we added distribution, an economic component, transforming the film festival into a movie market,” explains Goldsmith. Next year, “our goal is to bring in buyers and distributors who work with the major studios and streaming services. Young filmmakers will be able to learn the acquisitions process, and seasoned professionals will have a new movie marketplace to take their projects to.

“This will not only be a game changer for Arkansas’ film industry but our entire region,” he says.

“Now, along with the notoriety of festival awards and prizes, some of our filmmakers may achieve sales,” Wasson adds. “Our film society was founded to identify filmmakers, writers, actors, technicians and crew to connect them with opportunities to work professionally.”

Goldsmith says the first three annual festivals attracted 1,213 film submissions from more than 75 countries, nations and tribes.

“With commercial opportunities available, the scale and scope of film entries will increase in the categories of documentary and narrative feature films and will add television series, the most salable of film projects,” he says. That means “festivalgoers will have more high-quality feature-length films to watch, and those films tend to include celebrities.”

“The only change to the society will be leadership,” Goldsmith promises. “The River Valley Film Society will be growing in 2024 to not only produce movie nights across the region, but will be expanding to include screenwriter and crew development workshops.”



Dates Set

The 2024 Fort Smith International Film Festival And MidAmerica Film Market is scheduled for Aug. 23-24. Details at fortsmithfilm.com.

The final 2023 installment of River Valley Film Society movies at the King Opera House in Van Buren will be “The Penitent Thief,” screening at 2 & 6 p.m. Dec. 23. Suggested donation for admission is $5.

“The Penitent Thief” is the story of the two unnamed men who were crucified alongside Jesus and how they came to be beside him on the cross that fateful day.

Categories: Theater