In recent years, Charleston has seen a burgeoning movie appreciation, with several film festivals offering up fare hard to come by in standard commercial theaters.
If you go
WHAT: Charleston International Film FestivalWHEN: Wednesday-April 28WHERE: Sottile Theatre, Physicians Auditorium and other venuesCOST: VariesMORE INFO/schedule: CharlestonIFF.org
The independent Terrace Theatre presents the intensive Charleston Film Festival, mostly featuring smaller movies in release but unlikely to get a screening in town.
The Alliance Francaise shows French-language films each year in the Medical University’s Institute of Psychiatry Auditorium.
The College of Charleston Italian Program’s Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival takes over the Sottile Theatre each fall for a few days, offering recent movies and, often, moviemakers and thinkers.
But the most ambitious movie-related event of all is the Charleston International Film Festival, now in its sixth year and set to start Wednesday.
The five-day festival, founded by Brian and Summer Peacher, is presented by lead sponsor Charliewood Pictures, a Charleston-based production company.
The festival includes not only many screenings (mostly short films), but an award ceremony, after-parties, screenplay competition and feature Q&A with Frank Abagnale Jr., the famed man of many identities whose exploits were the subject of Steven Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” (to be screened before the talk).
The festival began in 2008 with 60 films spread across four days. This year, it will have 85 movies (from 15 countries) shown over five days, according to Summer Peacher.
Festival screenings are organized into two-hour blocks. The clear emphasis is on films that run under one hour, and sometimes as little as two or three minutes.
The shorts include the baseball documentary “Cards Against a Wall,” written by Charleston’s own Alex Sanders; “The Boy Who’d Never Seen Rain,” a portrait of an Australian family made by Kim Ramsay; “Wake Up!” by German filmmaker Daniel Ruczko; “Smile” by Italian writer-director Matteo Pianezzi; and many more.
Feature films include the psychological thriller “Breaking at the Edge” directed by Peter Antonijevic; the dramatic comedy “Commencement” by writer-director Steve Albrezzi; and the documentary about blues singer Jerome Felder called “AKA Doc Pomus.”
On Saturday, the festival will present “Catch Me If You Can” at 3 p.m. in the Physicians Auditorium, followed by a Q&A with its subject, Abagnale. A surprise feature film will be screened opening night at 7 in the Sottile Theatre.
The festival organizes a screenplay competition, and 10 finalists will present a small portion of their work at a special “table read” event at 3 p.m. Thursday, which is open to the public.
The reading “is like an old-time radio show,” said screenwriter and festival board member Margaret Ford Rogers. “It’s good for the festival because it gives us a reputation for acknowledging screenwriters.”
Other highlights include three free workshops, one on movie editing (noon-2 p.m. Thursday, 25 St. Philip St., Room 203), one on sound design (noon-2 p.m. Friday, same location) and one on animation (3-5 p.m. Friday, same location).
A Q&A with producer Chris Brigham (“Argo,” “Inception,” “The Aviator,” “Analyze This”) is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in the C of C Stern Center, Room 201.
Cinematographer Bill Butler, who shot “Jaws,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “The Conversation” among other films, will be honored with the Spire Lifetime Achievement Award at a Sunday evening reservation-only dinner and ceremony at Memminger Auditorium.
The goal of festival organizers is to make this one of the largest celebrations of film on the East Coast, Peacher said.
For the first four years, the Peachers managed the event mostly from their home in California. Summer Peacher was involved for four years with the Beverly Hills Film Festival. Last year, they relocated to Charleston, fully committed to growing the local event.
“We want Charleston to take ownership (of the festival), to feel invested,” she said.
A temporary space housing a box office and lounge area was secured at 556 King St. After-parties are planned for the evenings and will include live music and more.
Robert Kosian, board chairman, said he got involved last year when the board was first formed “because I love the movies.”
The board has 14 members. Income is generated through sponsorships, membership dues, ticket sales, VIP badges and donations.
Films are selected through an open submission process, Peacher said. The festival contacts film schools across the U.S. in a guerrilla marketing effort to let budding moviemakers know about the opportunity.
Next year, the festival likely will introduce some education programming, she said.
With each passing year, the festival’s roots dig deeper into the Charleston soil.
“We want it to be a focal point for the spring season that starts with Sewee and ends with Spoleto,” Peacher said. “We want to make Charleston a destination. Who doesn’t want to come to Charleston?”
For a complete schedule of all screenings and events, go to www.charlestonIFF.org.
The short “Light Me Up” will be shown at 3 p.m. April 28 at Physicians Auditorium.×
“The Water is Always Bluer” will be presented at 9 p.m. Friday at the Sottile Theatre.×
“Smile” is a short that will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sottile Theatre.×
The stop-motion short “Luminaris” will be shown at 11 a.m. April 28 at Physicians Auditorium.×
A screen shot from the short "The Chair," showing at 9 p.m. April 24 at the Sottile Theatre.×
A screen shot from the experimental short "Hurdy Gurdy," showing at 3 p.m. April 28 at Physicians Auditorium.×
A screen shot from the short "La Miranda Perdida," showing at 3 p.m. April 28 at Physicians Auditorium.×
The Charleston International Film Festival will run Wednesday through April 28 at various venues around the city.×
A screen shot from the short documentary "Cards Against a Wall," showing at 3 p.m. April 25 at the Sottile Theatre.×