By: Madison Watkins, A&E Editor
The SCAD Savannah Film Festival has begun! The first two days of the festival were chocked full of celebrities and screenings.
The festival officially began with a screening of the Mr. Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Director Morgan Neville said after the screening in a Q&A that he wanted to make a film about “the ideas of Mr. Rogers—not so much a biopic” and he wanted to ponder the ideas of “where is this voice today? How do we advocate for civility and ‘the neighborhood’ today?”
The rest of the day there were screenings for the documentary “RBG” on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “A Quiet Place” with a Q&A following the film with the stars John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, and Millicent Simmonds.
In the afternoon, “Entertainment Weekly” hosted a panel for breakout stars Kayli Carter, Raúl Castillo, Winston Duke, Elsie Fisher, Thomasin McKenzie, Hari Nef, and Millicent Simmonds to give their take on their journey in Hollywood so far and what advice they had for young people trying to make it in the business.
The opening night screenings showed the highly-anticipated films “Roma” and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Kindergarten Teacher.”
Preceding “Roma” was an award ceremony honoring Krasinski and Blunt for their work so far. Krasinski received the Vanguard Award and Blunt received the Icon Award.
After receiving his award, Krasinski opened with “Wow, these Dundees are getting more modern!” Those of you who are familiar with his work on “The Office” will understand that one. He continued with, “the coolest part about being here [SCAD] was that I was reminded of exactly why I got into this. To be in that community of people who inspire you and give you new ideas. Keep doing what you love, don’t listen to anyone else.”
After Blunt received her award she opened with, “I just want you to know, I love SCAD more than John Krasinski,” poking fun at her husband. She continued with “it takes courage to be creative. It’s about what you evoke in people who experience your art. I am so grateful for this award.”
Over in the Lucas Theatre for the Arts, Gyllenhaal received recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Acting and Producing for her film “The Kindergarten Teacher.” Her film was screened following the award ceremony and she participated in a Q&A following the film.
Day 2 of the festival began with a screening of the documentary “Free Solo” at the Trustees Theater. This doc tells the story of free soloist climber Alex Honnold as he attempt to climb the 3,000 ft. El Capitan rock in Yosemite National Park without a rope. Directors of the film and husband and wife Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi participated in a Q&A session following the screening.
Later that morning, the recent documentary “Quincy” about the famous musician Quincy Jones was screened at the SCAD Museum of Art. Jones’ daughter, well-known actress Rashida Jones, partnered up with Alan Hicks to direct the film and tell her father’s story. Jones and Hicks were present for the screening and took part in a Q&A session following the film.
That evening, many attended the red carpet event on Broughton to catch a glimpse of some more big stars that would be attending the festival. The first to arrive was Phil Burgers. He was there to promote his short film “The Passage” that he wrote and stars in. The film is a silent comedy about a central character who survives a plane crash and goes on a journey across a multicultural landscape to escape his pursuers.
Burgers told us that his film was not inspired by classic silent comedy films or Charlie Chaplin. “I don’t find old silent comedy films that funny. I think they’re really interesting but I’m not that inspired by them. I’m more inspired by 80s comedians like Steve Martin or Rowan Atkinson… I was more inspired by visual storytelling and being able to tell stories through actions and images versus through too much dialogue.”
Not long after, director Jason Reitman and actor Hugh Jackman came to the red carpet to talk about their new film “The Front Runner” before heading into the Trustees for Jackman’s award ceremony and screening of “The Front Runner.”
Jackman received the Legend of Cinema Award.
Following the film screening, Jackman and Reitman took part in a Q&A session to discuss the film.
Jackman and Reitman, along with the rest of the cast and crew, spent much of last year filming “The Front Runner” in Savannah.
Following Jackman’s red carpet appearance, cast and crew members of the Starz tv show “Outlander” came to Broughton to talk about the show and take part in a screening of the fourth season’s premiere episode of their show at the Lucas.
Once the cast and crew members arrived, they were greeted by a wide array of enthusiastic fans and multiple musicians playing the bagpipes.
The cast and crew members in attendance were Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser), Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser), Sophie Skelton (Brianna Randall), Richard Rankin (Roger Wakefield, John Bell (Young Ian), executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis, and costume designer Terry Dresbach.
Heughan and Balfe talked to us about how their filming experience for this season and their characters journeys.
“This season is a new experience for us because we [the characters] were in Scotland, which was very familiar to us and now we’re in America. It’s a different land, different challenges, different dangers, but it’s also very exciting. There’s a lot to learn about this country and it’s an honor to portray this land in its infancy and to show Americans that this is what the land was built on. There’s a lot of opportunity there for us as actors,” said Heughan of his experience.
“This season is very different. Claire is really focused on her home life this season in ways that we haven’t really seen before. There’s a lot of things going on this season, a lot of external forces causing drama but as a couple Claire and Jamie they’re in a really solid place. They’re building a home for themselves. They’re an immigrant family who come to America to find their place. It’s really cool to watch them be in this very different zone than we’ve seen before,” Balfe commented.
Balfe went on to say what she likes about her character this season, “what’s nice about this season is that you get to explore different sides of the character. We always talk about Claire being such a strong character and a strong woman and she is but she’s a full whole person who also needs to sometimes focus on the needs of her family and that is of no less value than her career and other things. It’s nice to be able to do a fully-rounded person in that way.”
Stay tuned for more coverage on the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and look up the full schedule for the rest of the week on filmfest.scad.edu.