Two longstanding local film festivals are revamping themselves into much larger events this year—and, although they’ll each be covering different cinematic terrain, and are completely unrelated, their names are rather similar. In separate announcements this week, two teams of organizers unveiled the Knoxville Film Festival (Sept. 19-22) and the Knoxville Film & Music Festival (June 1-15).
The Knoxville Film Festival is the result of a collaboration between documentary filmmaker Keith McDaniel, who organizes the Secret City Film Festival, and Lisa Duncan, director of the Dogwood Arts Festival. This new festival will be replacing McDaniel’s nearly 10-year-old Secret City fest, which had changed its home base just last year.
“When I moved the Secret City Film Festival from Oak Ridge to Knoxville in 2012, the response was tremendous,” McDaniel says in a press release. “Our audience almost doubled, the interest in the film festival significantly increased, and the response we had from filmmakers outside the area was phenomenal.”
Thus, McDaniel hopes to keep that momentum going as he joins forces with Dogwoods Arts to make the festival even larger this year, reaching out to a broader audience interested in watching independent films of all sorts. According to the festival’s mission statement, it will “provide a stimulating gathering in which the lovers and creators of independent cinema come together to see and discuss interesting works from local, regional, national and international filmmakers.” Previously, the Secret City festival did include films from other states and countries, but its heart was clearly with filmmakers in the immediate region.
Like last year, the festival will be held at Regal Downtown West Cinema 8, and organizers are looking to open it with a special screening of a feature film (to be named later). Otherwise, there will be workshops, filmmaker Q&As, and a Seven-Day Shootout filmmaking competition. Filmmakers can submit their films starting April 1 at knoxvillefilmfestival.com; submission deadline is July 15. Expect the lineup to be announced in mid-August.
Meanwhile, Michael Samstag and Knoxville Films are taking their Knoxville 24-Hour Film Festival and combining it with movie screenings, live music shows, and media-business workshops to form the Knoxville Film & Music Festival. Partnering with Carleo Entertainment, the Downtown Arts Association, the Artists Box, and Fleta Fest, Samstag says their goal is to do something “more on the scale of a micro-SXSW.”
“It was actually Scott West’s idea years ago and now we’re working together to make it happen,” Samstag writes in an e-mail interview. “Andrea Kearns from Midnight Voyage Productions mentioned she was interested in producing a music festival and I asked her if she’d be interested in collaborating. We all met with Duane Carleo and started to get really excited.... We feel like there is a very dynamic film and music scene here in Knoxville and wanted to celebrate it in a larger way.”
Held in venues around Market Square and the Old City, the series of concerts will launch at the Preservation Pub and then culminate with an all-day concert at the Old City Bandstand on June 8. There will also be a two-day development and pitch session called “The Biz,” where musicians and filmmakers will “have the opportunity to pitch their next project to investors under the guidance of the new Knoxville Entrepreneur Center,” according to the festival’s announcement.
Meanwhile, films from the 54-Hour Film Fest, Film-Com, and the Knoxville Horror Film Festival will be screened. And in addition to the 24-Hour shoot-out (with entries screened at the Bijou Theatre on June 15), a new music-video competition will be conducted in which 16 teams of artists and filmmakers will have four days to “create a cutting edge music video.” But the overall film content of the festival won’t necessarily be Knoxville-centric.
“Our focus is on where music and film collide, regardless of where it’s made,” Samstag writes. “The national and regional bands we are looking at have strong visual media aesthetics and a history of working with filmmakers. The only films we will be screening are films about music, music docs, or films where music is featured in a new and exciting way.”