3 Ga. filmmakers showcase their work at RIFF
Make no mistake the Rome International Film Festival draws national and international work, however local films from Georgia film makers will make a strong appearance this year as well.
This weekend is all about independent films in Rome as the 15th annual Rome International Film Festival has a full schedule of celebrity guests and Georgia filmmakers.
Justin O’Neal Miller, for example, will be screening his 13-minute film “Peggy;” his fourth film to write, produce, direct and bring to RIFF. The movie is set at a child’s birthday party but focuses entirely on the adults who are secretly trying to undermine the hostess’s social status. The film explores the nature of social media and the culture of coveting under the surface, Miller said. The film has screened at four festivals in North America so far, and has won awards at three of them. The film features Atlanta talent from it production crew to its lead actress.
“It’s an Atlanta born and bred short film,” Miller said.
Peggy herself, Sarah Blackman, is an Atlanta native who has been involved in several Georgia based productions including “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” and was a performer in the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show when it was at the Georgia Dome in 2000. This is her first independent film she said. When she first looked at the script, Blackman said she immediately thought of the woman who always seems to go overboard at children’s parties, the one who seems so perfect and has it all together.
“We all know a version,” she said. “We all have a little Peggy in us.”
Director Miller said his inspiration for this film was at his son’s own birthday party when his son opened a gift that he would not have been allowed to have otherwise. Children’s parties are just as much about the parents who show up to pry, gossip and undermine parenting styles he said.
Miller is a Georgia Tech graduate where he studied architecture as well as some film. He got more involved with filmmaking during the economic downturn in 2008, when he worked as an assistant art director on films “Pitch Perfect 3,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2” and several others. His four short films he has written, directed and produced are “Peggy,” “The Roach,” “Restitution” and “A Lady Can Live Through Anything.”
“Peggy” will be the first of the Eternal Fire: Domestic Shorts showing at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Two noteworthy locals from Berry, one a professor and the other an alumni, will also have their films screened this weekend.
According to a Berry news release:
Professor Brian Campbell’s film “To Kingdom Come” and alumnus Ryan Simmons’ film “Running A.T. Full Speed” will be shown Saturday in the Rome City Auditorium. Campbell’s will be at 11 a.m. and Simmons’ will be at 1:30 p.m.
“To Kingdom Come” presents the battle between Rome’s river keepers and General Electric over PCBs, which are a group of manmade organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms.
Simmons directed the film “Running A.T. Full Speed,” which presents the journey of Drew Burnett, a former pastor in Rome, as he attempts to raise $100,000 for the orphans of Uganda. The film captures the story of Burnett as he strives to break the speed record on the Appalachian Trail of 46 days and 11 hours.
Tickets for each film cost $10 and can be bought at riffga.com. The schedule and details of other films showing can also be found at the website.
Brian Campbell, Berry professor and filmmaker