After a lack of funding, the state has lost a prominent film festival for both Arkansans and UCA students.
Two of the four people who founded the event, brothers Brent and Craig Renaud, announced that due to insufficient funds for a full-time executive director, the Little Rock Film Festival will no longer hold its yearly event.
After its ninth season last May, the founders said the festival always struggled with funds and often only broke even at the end of the event.
For all involved in filming in Arkansas, the news was tragic.
“The Little Rock Film Festival has always been like the Sundance of Arkansas,” senior Tanner Smith said. “Arkansas filmmakers would check out the Made In Arkansas short blocks because they’re great showcases for local talent. They could make connections, see what these people can do with filmmaking, and even be inspired to keep making their own films and get better at their crafts.”
Smith said this was true for his personal experience.
“I submitted to the festival for four years before finally being accepted into the fifth, but I never gave up,” he said. “I made friends at the festival over the years, and they helped me get better at my work.”
The festival offered local filmmakers the opportunity to submit their films into screenings, which allowed them to be eligible for awards in select categories.
The festival also offered a variety of parties and social events where film lovers could celebrate and connect.
For UCA film students, submitting their films to the Little Rock Film Festival was a must.
“I have such a passion for filmmaking that I wanted to show what I could do, and the best way I thought I could really show that was through the Little Rock Film Festival,” Smith said. “The festival would accept new talent each year, mostly from UCA, therefore helping to create a new generation of filmmakers each year, as well.”
Although the festival was a destination for many students finishing their digital film projects, the admission process put restraints on the directors of these films.
To submit a film into the Little Rock Film Festival, the film could not have been on the Internet or at any other festival.
Junior Zach Keast planned on submitting his short film “A Snowball’s Chance” to Little Rock Film Festival’s 10th event, but, upon hearing that the festival was canceled, quickly shared his film on social media and Youtube.
“The Little Rock Film Festival was the perfect place for students to show their movies to a much larger audience,” Keast said. “It was also perfect timing, because the deadline to turn you films into the Little Rock Film Festival was right around the time Digital Film 4 films were being finished. If your movie didn’t get into the UCA film festival, there’s always Little Rock.”
Little Rock is not the only Arkansas city that hosts a film festival and is not the only opportunity for student films to be seen.
Film students can still submit to the Film Society of Little Rock, a monthly film series, and to other Arkansas film festivals, such as Arkansas Shorts in Hot Springs, the Offshoot Film Fest in Fayetteville and the Royal Film Festival in Benton.
They may also submit out of state, like to Indie Memphis.
“Many people will have a rough time getting over the loss of the Little Rock Film Festival, but maybe they’ll notice other Arkansas festivals more and see if they deserve as much attention,” Smith said.
image via madeinarkansas.org