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

Puig will program the newly announced Film Fest 919, which brings together food and film in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Willem Dafoe & Brooklynn Prince in "The Florida Project"

Willem Dafoe & Brooklynn Prince in “The Florida Project”

Marc Schmidt

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.

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