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May 30, 2003 2:00 AM
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Atlanta Heads Downtown With "Splendor" and "Camp" for 27th Edition

Atlanta Heads Downtown With "Splendor" and "Camp" for 27th Edition

by Brian Brooks









Paul Giamatti stars as Harvey Pekar in "American Splendor," which will open the 27th Atlanta Film Festival.

The Atlanta Film Festival will kick off its 27th year June 6th with what organizers are calling "an introductory year" as the event consolidates its programs and screenings in downtown Atlanta. Opening this year's festival at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts is Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's Sundance grand jury prize-winner, "American Splendor." The film tells the story of cult comic book writer Harvey Pekar featuring Hope Davis, Paul Giamatti as well as Pekar himself.

Although the festival is officially underway on June 6th, a gala awards ceremony will be held the previous night to honor Burt Reynolds and Parker Posey for their contribution to the Georgia film industry. Posey's film, "The Event" by Thom Fitzgerald and also starring Olympia Dukakis will screen at the festival June 12th. "[The festival] is honoring [those who] raise the profile of film in the Southeast," said Paul Marchant, director of the Atlanta Film Festival in a conversation with indieWIRE.

The nine-day event includes over 60 feature films and over 75 shorts including 12 narrative and docs in competition. "This year's program is the most comprehensive one we've put together," commented Marchant on the line up. "We hope people have a hard time making decisions (about what to see)."

Atlanta is changing scenery this year, moving the event downtown in order to, as Marchant described to indieWIRE, to make it a "more walkable festival." He further commented on the move, "We believe downtown is a place for a festival of this sort and think it could become a cultural [highlight] event this year." The main Rialto Center is in close proximity to the festival's headquarters as well as the Omni Hotel at CNN Center, where panels will be held. Guest panelists include Greg Rhem (HBO programmer), Kelly DeVine (acquisitions for IFC), Peter Goldwyn (Samuel Goldwyn Films), and Mark Hosler (founding member of Negativland).

Also taking place in the downtown area are outdoor screenings of D.A. Pennebaker's "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" at the Starlight 6 drive-in as well as "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" at the Centennial Olympic Park, both free to the public.

Other film highlights include Ted Demme and Richard LaGravenese's Sundace doc, "A Decade Under the Influence," and fellow doc, "Cinemania" which won the Golden Starfish award at the 2002 Hamptons International Film Festival, Oxide Pang and Danny Pang's Hong Kong Film Awards-winner "The Eye," and acclaimed French director Claude Berri's "The Housekeeper," which received a 2003 Cesar nomination for best actress (Emilie Dequenne). "We have the American showcase, but also the [new] International scene with 23 films (from around the world)," commented Marchant about the line-up, which will showcase international work in a special showcase for the first time.

Closing the festival June 14th is Todd Graff's 2003 Sundance grand jury prize-nominated comedy, "Camp." The film centers on a music camp in Upstate New York and a former Broadway songwriter's inspiration from the cadre of kids attending the camp.

The Atlanta Film Festival is produced by IMAGE Film & Video Center, a non-profit media arts center that presents films and videos in addition to providing support to the Georgia film community.

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