Former USA Today Film Critic Claudia Puig Sets Sights on New North Carolina Film Festival

Former USA Today film critic Claudia Puig is adding another programming feather to her cap, thanks to the announcement that she will program the newly announced Film Fest 919, set to unspool next October in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Founded by festival luminaries Randi Emerman and Carol Marshall, the festival is aiming to “showcase award-winning feature films discovered from the festival circuit worldwide, as well as notable filmmakers.” But it gets better — and dare we say it, tastier — as the festival’s film program will be combined with shining a light on culinary artists from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle region.

“I’m very excited about Film Fest 919. I’m thrilled to be programming and showcasing a carefully curated, compelling and diverse breadth of narrative features for such an engaged and film-loving audience,” Puig said. “And how fun it will be to pair the vitality of films with wonderful cuisine from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle.” Puig has programmed for a slew of other festivals over the years, including Napa Valley and Mendocino.

Emerman and Marshall also come to the festival with serious experience, having worked together for 15+ years at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. “We created Film Fest 919 to further satiate the rabid appetite (pun intended) this community has for fresh voices and global perspectives,” said Emerman. “We look to complement the Full Frame Documentary and River Run Film Festivals, two renowned local events which take place in the Spring.”

Although the official inaugural festival will take place next year, the Film Fest 919 team is already planning a launch event to celebrate in the coming weeks. On October 25, the Film Fest 919 team will host a launch party and special screening of Sean Baker’s lauded “The Florida Project,” proving that the fest is already sticking true to its aims to curate the best of the best on the circuit. Puig will participate in a special post-screening Q&A alongside the film’s producer and writer Chris Bergoch.

Check out the rest of our bi-weekly Film Festival Roundup on the next page, including lineup announcements for Cinepocalypse, Other Israel, Middleburg, DOC NYC, and much more.

Lineup Announcements

– The Music Box Theatre has announced their full wave of programming and guests for the debut year of Cinepocalypse (an evolution to the program design of Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival), which will take place November 2 – 9 at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. The Midwest’s largest gathering of genre films and fans, the festival’s organizers are proud to announce dozens of new features, shorts, and premieres, alongside their juries, repertory, and secret screenings. You can see the full list of offerings at the festival’s official website.

– JCC Manhattan’s Other Israel Film Festival has announced the complete lineup of feature and short films for the 11th Annual Other Israel Film Festival held in New York on November 2 – 9. A diverse selection of award-winning films and US premieres round out the festival’s 2017 slate, all celebrating unique cinematic stories that highlight the best of Arab/Israeli life and bringing to light current universal themes. This year’s lineup includes a deeper look into Israeli and Palestinian relations, giving a human face to this conflict, as well as showcasing more diverse images of Israel’s minority groups who are often overlooked by mainstream Israeli society and culture. The previously announced “In Between” by Maysaloun Hamoud will open the festival and Shady Srour’s “Holy Air” will be the closing night film. You can see the full list of offerings at the festival’s official website.

– The Philadelphia Film Society has announced the full film lineup of the 26th Philadelphia Film Festival, spanning from October 19 – October 29 on 4 theater screens in Philadelphia. Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya” opens the Festival on October 19 and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” closes the Festival on October 27. The Festival will showcase more than 110 feature length and short films. You can see the full list of offerings at the festival’s official website.

Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

– Middleburg Film Festival’s Executive Director Susan Koch has announced the 25 films comprising the main slate for the 2017 Festival. The festival, celebrating its fifth year, opens Thursday, October 19 with Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” starring Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. As previously announced, Actor Ben Mendelsohn, who portrays King George VI, screenwriter Anthony McCarten, and producer Lisa Bruce will participate in a conversation following the screening. Middleburg Film Festival, which celebrates its fifth year, runs from October 19 – 22 in Virginia’s historic wine country located one hour from Washington, DC. You can see the full list of offerings at the festival’s official website.

– DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, running November 9 – 16, has announced its Opening Night film will be “The Final Year,” directed by Greg Barker, which follows key members of Barack Obama’s administration during their last year in office. The screening will be followed by a conversation with Barker along with the film subject Ben Rhodes and other senior Obama Administration officials. The film will make its New York City premiere at the festival on Thursday, November 9 following its world premiere at September’s Toronto International Film Festival. You can see the full list of offerings at the festival’s official website.

– The Virginia Film Festival will celebrate its 30th year from November 9 – 12 with a stellar lineup of more than 150 films and an outstanding array of special guests including Academy Award-winning filmmakers Spike Lee and Ezra Edelman, Emmy Award-winning actor William H. Macy, and noted author Margot Lee Shetterly. You can see the full list of offerings at the festival’s official website.

Awards and Honors

– The Hamptons International Film Festival will award its inaugural Dick Cavett Artistic Champion Award at this weekend’s festival to Caveat himself. The award will honor a person who throughout their career has continued to support the arts and has made a significant impact and contribution within the industry. The 2017 festival will take place October 5 – 9, Columbus Day Weekend, with over 65 features and 50 shorts representing a total of 40 countries across the globe.

“Darkest Hour”

– The seventh annual Napa Valley Film Festival has announced this year’s lineup of Celebrity Tributes that salute the highest levels of cinematic achievement. The festival will honor Charles Krug Legendary Filmmaker Nancy Meyers, Raymond Vineyards Trailblazer Michael Shannon, and Spotlight Tribute honoree Michael Stuhlbarg. New this year, The Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch Humanitarian Tribute will be presented to Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder. The Celebrity Tributes program will take place on Thursday, November 9 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville.

In addition to the Celebrity Tributes program, Will Ferrell will be honored with the Caldwell Vineyards Maverick Tribute on Friday, November 10, and the first annual Rising Star Showcase at Materra | Cunat Vineyards on Saturday, November 11 will honor a handful of young talent including Ana de Armas, Odeya Rush, Austin Stowell, Gregg Sulkin, and Alex Wolff.

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