Beaufort News

Beaufort film fest organizers project record numbers to this week's events

The Beaufort International Film Festival hit a new high in 2010, landing appearances by actress Blythe Danner, actor Michael O'Keefe and author Pat Conroy and soliciting more than 200 film entries from around the world.

The annual event nearly doubled its previous attendance record, as it has done each year since it started in 2007.

It was a big year that created a lot of buzz, much of which has carried over to the 2011 event, Ron Tucker, the festival's executive director, said Monday. And organizers are confident this year's festival will live up to the hype.

"Last year, we set the bar pretty high," Tucker said. "We didn't really set out trying to top that, but the quality of the films this year is exceptional. ... Not that we didn't have good quality films before, but it seems to have stepped up a notch."

Thirty-two independent films and five screenplays were selected for this week's festival.

Among the highlights:

  • Actor Tom Berenger, an Academy Award nominee for his role in "Platoon," will present the inaugural Santini Patriot Spirit Award to filmmaker Jonathan Flora for his documentary "Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good," featuring Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise. Flora, a U.S. Army veteran, is an award-winning producer with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
  • Eugene Gearty, nominated for an Academy Award for sound design on the Martin Scorsese film "Gangs of New York," will present the festival's award for Best Feature Film.
  • Emmy award-winning American composer Charles David Denler will receive the inaugural Jean Ribaut Award for Music for Film.
  • Three festival entrants are from Beaufort -- filmmakers Michael Givens and Michael Hudson and screenwriter Teresa Bruce.
  • The festival strives to market Beaufort as a film-making destination, Tucker said.

    About 20 entrants attended the festival last year, and more than 30 are expected this year, Tucker said.

    Organizers go to great lengths to get filmmakers here and make them feel welcomed, Tucker said.

    "We want them to drive across the Woods Memorial Bridge and look at the waterfront and go out on St. Helena and Hunting islands and Parris Island and say, 'Wow, what a perfect location for a movie,' " he said. "We want them to know we're adaptable to whatever they want us to be."