The festival featured a diverse program of films and live performances showcasing the work of international filmmakers, the William & Mary community, and local performers.
Cook Up a Storm, a Chinese film that follows two rival cooks in their quest to be the best in the industry, opened the festival Thursday night. Award winning chef and restaurateur Peter Chang spoke about Chinese cuisine after the film and welcomed everyone to a reception with a special tasting menu prepared by his local restaurant. Sponsored by the William & Mary Confucius Institute, the opening night program was the first of many collaborations between the GFF and campus and local groups.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of African Americans in Residence and the 20th anniversary of the American Bosnian Collaboration (ABC) Project, formerly known as the W&M Bosnia Project. Festival producers Adam Stackhouse (‘04) and Liz Sykes (‘06) collaborated with each group to screen films in recognition of these milestones. Jacquelyn McLendon, chair of the committee overseeing programming for the 50th anniversary and an Emerita Professor of English, worked with Adam and Liz to program a screening of Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photography and the Emergence of a People followed by a panel discussion with W&M faculty.
As students both Stackhouse and Sykes participated in the ABC Project in 2003, making the anniversary programming personally meaningful. W&M’s longest-running community service project, the program partners with education students at the University of Sarajevo to teach English and media skills to children. Paula Pickering, Professor of Government and the program’s mentor, helped coordinate several events during the Festival to celebrate twenty years of service.
A screening of the Bosnian documentary Children of Peace with special guests Writer/Director Emir Kapetanovic, Producer Zana Marjanovic, and W&M Bosnia Project co-founder Dr. Larisa Kasumagic-Kafedzic was the first of those events. Several workshops and a reception hosted by W&M Libraries Special Collections offered additional opportunities for attendees to learn about the ABC Project and connected current and past program participants. Notably, the entire group from the class of 2004 returned to campus for the anniversary events. Many of these alumni facilitated workshops about their area of expertise.
“It was inspiring to gather with new and old participants and reflect on the project’s long evolution,” said Kelly Weissberger ’04. “Over 20 years of collaboration, we’ve developed an impressive community, and a strong sense of mutual respect and trust with our partners in Sarajevo. I’m excited to see that community growing and extending to new generations of students.”
The ABC Project alumni were among the nineteen W&M alumni that returned to campus for the GFF to facilitate professional workshops for students and community members. Not limited to film, workshops covered a range of careers in the arts such as theater, creative writing, and marketing.
Lauretta Prevost ‘05 returned to Williamsburg to present a workshop on the pre-production process of professional filmmaking: “I found attending the festival to be a meaningful context for returning to campus. I enjoyed sharing my little corner of the industry with students, and I was glad to connect with students during workshops, around the fest, and with those who have followed up online... I had a blast!”
Up from eight alumni presenters, the increased participation from alumni is one of several ways the Festival grew from 2017 to 2018. Student attendance is another, with a 384% increase. Such a significant jump is undoubtedly attributed to W&M students receiving free tickets to all GFF programs for the first time in the festival’s 11-year history.
Academic internships, the Youth Filmmaking Institute, and the 24 Speed student filmmaking competition offered additional opportunities for current students to get hands-on experience. Three student interns help produce this year’s festival, focusing on social media, volunteer management, and workshops. The Youth Filmmaking Institute, in its sixth year, gave Williamsburg-area middle and high school students an opportunity to make a short film with a undergraduate W&M student as their mentor. The 24 Speed contest challenged students to create a three-minute film in only twenty-four hours with an assigned genre, character, and line of dialogue. The winning films were screened during the GFF prior to selected featured films.
Sponsorship from campus and local organizations made these opportunities and free student tickets possible. The Roy R. Charles Center, Reves Center for International Studies, W&M Libraries and Muscarelle Museum of Art all continued their long-time support of the Festival.
AVAdventure Productions, the company owned by festival producers Stackhouse and Sykes, oversaw the GFF for the second year in a row. The company has worked on numerous events for the College since it was founded in 2011, including Commencement, Charter Day, and an interactive team scavenger hunt as part of the 100th anniversary of co-education programming to take place in Fall 2018.
Additionally, the company produces an event for the City of Williamsburg welcoming new students to the community. Held annually since 2011, these events foster the “town-gown” relationship by connecting students with local businesses and organizations through memorable interactive events. The Great Williamsburg Adventure Race is the most recent event AVAdventure Productions has created for the City.
The long-term vision for the Global Film Festival is for it to serve as a homecoming-style event that draws alumni working in the arts back to campus annually.