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on the record


Arkansas Cinema Society announces 2021 Filmland: Arkansas line-up

Kody Ford

The Arkansas Cinema Society is thrilled to announce the line-up for 2021 Filmland: Arkansas. Each year, the festival highlights the best short and feature filmmakers in the state and those connected to our state. And 2021 will be no different as Filmland: Arkansas will again host the next generation with 23 filmmakers showcasing their work.

With a record number of submissions this year, the 2021 Filmland: Arkansas Programming Committee​​—Jack Lofton, Niketa Reed, Josh Miller, Antoinette Grajeda, Jonathan Crawford, Kelsey Ferguson and Gabe Gentry—have selected  5 features, 12 shorts, and 7 student shorts.

“The quality of submissions gets better each year,” said Jack Lofton, head of the Filmland: Arkansas judging committee. “It’s really exciting to see all the new talent and initiative taking place in Arkansas.”

Audience Award Winners of the short film categories for Filmland: Arkansas Audience Award will screen before the films on Saturday and Sunday evening at Filmland in the Park on the 40 foot Drive-In screen! The winning feature of the Audience Award will screen in 2022 as part of our ongoing Homegrown Film Series. Filmland: Arkansas is non-competitive in nature but we want to allow our audience the opportunity to support their favorite local filmmakers! Streaming and voting begins Friday, September 24 and voting ends Wednesday, September 29.

Tickets for Filmland: Arkansas will go on sale in the coming weeks. Members receive free access to the full Filmland Digital Experience and advance notice when tickets go on sale for all events. Memberships are $50 and available now on the ACS website.

This year’s Filmland: Arkansas selections are:


Rap Squad (dir. Nathan Willis):  Rap Squad is an intimate, verite documentary about student hip hop artists who seek healing for themselves and justice for their community through their music. In the Arkansas Delta, students Montae and Norman join an after school club - the Central Rap Squad - and begin writing music to cope with personal traumas. When their rural town prepares to vote on a proposal that would raise property taxes in order to build a new public high school, the young men shift their focus from inner healing to social action, using their music and platform to fight for a more equitable future.

88.3 FM & The Voice of the People
(dir. J.T. Tarpley): Trump’s impending inauguration, the first Women’s March, tensions between local MLK event organizers, a disenfranchised community defiant against a takeover of public elementary schools, and the 80th birthday of a beloved local icon of broadcasting and Black history. Over one week, volunteer-operated radio station KABF looks on as Little Rock’s spirit of social justice is reanimated in the face of new local and national challenges in this no-budget, thoroughly Southern piece of direct cinema.

A Place Called Home
(dir. Kiel Thorlton): After losing his wife during the birth of his second child, Levi is thrust into raising two young girls, alone. However, when forced to borrow money from a ruthless loan shark, he must fight to save his family and the home his family has made it.

Beautiful People (dir. Shane White): For too long the way people view themselves has been influenced by who and what they see portrayed as beautiful. This is a story about the ways people and organizations in the state of Arkansas are redefining beauty and contributing to breaking stigmas of fashion. The film follows Arkansas designers, creative directors, models, apparel merchandising experts and professors in their efforts to help break the stigma of the thin ideal from an area of the country that most would not think of as being diverse and inclusive. This film is really about a place that most would likely assume is far behind when it comes to being diversely progressive, defying its own negative stigmas.

THE LIGHTS ARE CLOSED AND MY EYES ARE DARK (dir. Noah Arthur Woods): A story about people in love, drugs, paranoia, and how life works out in funny ways. Henry, a helpless drug dealer weaves through dark streets and the memories of his past while the acid he sold to a friend ends up dismantling Rocco and company into a hellish non-linear trip.

Short films:

“Digital Peruggias” (dir. Keith Andrew Hudson ):  RB McGrath is an American Painter from Jacksonville, Arkansas. One day in 2011, she made the discovery that one of her art pieces was being advertised for sale from a foreign country. This documentary details her everyday life, alongside the evidence of art theft that shook her way of living.

“Ms. Blue”
(dir. Mary McDade Casteel): On a humid New Orleans summer day, an elderly Ms. Blue sits on her porch waiting to be greeted by the charming Mr. Oscar.

(dir. Nolan Dean): An Arab immigrant appears to stalk a diner waitress after her late-night shift, but looks can be deceiving. In a few terrifying minutes, this film will toy with the assumptions and prejudices of our audience, ultimately leaving them with a challenging and perplexing answer to the age-old question, “Who is my neighbor?”

“A Violent Storm”
(dir. Timothy Barnett): A hero returns to face an old enemy.

“The Wolf”
(dir. Timothy Barnett): A woman must face the ghost of her lost love while being hunted by something much darker.

“Harvey & Sunshine”
(dir. Damon Kingsley McKinnis, Madeleine Noel Murden, Madison De La Garza): A couple struggles over their decision to bring a stranger into their relationship.

(dir. Corey Clifford, Ryan Lagod): A dark comedy about the cultish worlds of multi-level marketing schemes. Lacey Anne was promised success, friends and the life of a #bossbabe, through the multi level marketing company Cliff & Roe. What she got was boxes of unsellable product, loneliness and an empty bank account. Ready to reclaim her life Lacey decides to quit the company. Unfortunately leaving proves harder than simply sending an email. After weeks of failed attempts and repeated charges to her debit card, Lacey is out of options. She heads to the house of Laura Jane the “Queen Bee” of the company where a simple interaction turns heated. Lacey will do anything to get out of her contract, but this MLM will do anything to keep her in it.

“Patient Justice”
(dir. Lesa Wolfe Crowell): Buried by medical debt, a terminal cancer patient becomes an assassin to provide for her sons and to provide justice to those forgotten by the courts.

“I Have No Desire To Suffer, In Reality, Or In Retrospect”
(dir. Ebony Meyers): Taylor, a recent high school graduate, ponders with a new friend, memories of his seductive teacher.

“Blood on the Risers”
(dir. Caleb Fanning): It is 1945 and many men & women have returned home from service during World War II. However, for some, the war is not over. This is where we find Charlie Evans, a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy on D-Day. After three years of being gone, he comes home to his wife, Afton, who has no idea about the burdens and trauma that Charles is bringing home with him. The film tells the story of his struggle to reconcile the trauma of war and his peaceful life at home.

(dir. Emma Thatcher): A year after a one-night stand ("Fletcher"), in this improvised drama, Skyler & John run into each other and discuss the happenings of their last years respectively. This time there's a little less cute to their meet.

"Shattered Dreams" (dir. Thomas James Deeter): A young artist is transformed into her child self and plunged into the world of her creations when overwhelmed by the isolation and stress of the outside world.

Student short films:

“Once Forgotten”
(dir. Obed Lamey): Reframing the story of three enslaved individuals lynched in Washington County, Arkansas, in 1856 as a local community undertakes to honor their memory.

(dir. Sophie Barnes): A man under the influence experiences a series of strange encounters as he is haunted by three women of the past and present.

“Baking” (dir. Daniel Rafael Beltram): After leaving Puerto Rico with his grandfather, Gabriel struggles to find his true home.

“One of These Days“ (dir. Clayton Henderson): A lone man searches for his true love and a place to call home in the midst of a mysterious attack.

“Salas de Piel”
(dir. David C. Cruz): A capture of Chiapas, and a man caring for his girlfriend.

(dir. Jack Barr): In the midst of a pandemic, a young woman attempts to relearn a childhood instrument while courting a young man through Instagram DMs.

(dir. Tanner Manasco): A father and son take a trip to clean up the family cemetery, setting up for the future.

About Filmland

Filmland 2021 will be a hybrid event with Filmland in the Park, a drive-in, taking place at MacArthur Park, September 30 to October 3, 2021. Food trucks will be available each night. More information regarding the program and ticket sales will be released in the coming weeks. Tickets will go on sale as the program lineup is announced. ACS Members receive 50% off each night of Filmland. Please visit our website at for more information on tickets, sponsorship opportunities and membership benefits. 

About Filmland Digital Experience

Filmland will also have a Digital Experience featuring Filmland: Arkansas and post-screening Q+As. You will have the ideal home viewing experience with native Apple TV, Roku, and Android TV apps as well as the option to screencast from computers and mobile devices. The Filmland Digital Experience is free with an ACS Membership. Individual tickets for the Filmland Digital Experience will also be available for purchase.

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At  ACS, we believe that if we provide filmmakers an arena to exhibit their talents, and film enthusiasts a healthy diet of quality programming, we can inspire more Arkansans to make and watch more films. By supporting filmmakers, festivals, theaters and young people interested in filmmaking throughout the state, we hope to create statewide network, pool Arkansas’s resources and be an umbrella organization that feeds all things film. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats.


connect to create.

To be a filmmaker, we have to connect to create. A painter needs a brush, paint and a canvas. A director needs a writer, a cinematographer, a sound mixer, production designer, editor, actors, distributors, and an audience. We cannot do it alone. This art form forces one to collaborate and thus, creates jobs. Filmmaking is unique in the arts in this way. It takes an army.