The numbers are in and the inaugural Fort Smith International Film Festival was a rousing success. Despite the reduced COVID capacities over 400 film fans and filmmakers attended in person moving from venue to venue around downtown and more than 200 people from across the world experienced the festival online.
“This is a historic moment not only for Fort Smith, but for our regional artistic community. The River Valley now has marked its place on the global map,” said Executive Director Brandon Chase Goldsmith.
The Fort Smith International Film Festival screened over 130 movies from 32 countries. Film fans got to meet and hear from filmmakers and industry experts on panels, post movie Q&A’s, and in-person as they strolled from The Bakery District, to 5 Star Productions, down to The Majestic and across the street to 906 Cigar Lounge. FSIFF was an “all-inclusive event” welcoming the people of Fort Smith and our region to enjoy the entirety of the festival experience and our community came out in support.
Putting a spotlight on the city, the evening ended with a midnight Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Fort Smith Fashion Project’s Fernanda Adams and Joshua Odom, who presented trophies created by Fab Lab Fort Smith. Highlights of the night included: Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine’s Lynn Wasson, giving the Fort Smith in Film award to Michael Pharis’ The Rock of Gibraltar; the Russian film COP winning Jen’s Kitty Rehab Best Animal Film; and Pablo Guerra-Monje accepting the Best Animated Film award for his friend’s movie Made in Spain. The big winner of the festival was Black Boys, which won Best People of Color Film and Best Overall Film. Fort Smith’s resident and arts supporter Steve Clark. executive produced Black Boys.
2021 Fort Smith International Film Festival Winners:
Best Overall Film: Black Boys
Best Overall Short Film: "Let's Grow"
Best Animal Film - Jen’s Kitty Rehab : COP
Fort Smith in Film: The Rock of Gibraltar – Effort Smith
Best Documentary Feature Film: Land of Lights and Shadows - Lisa Hinton
Best International Film – Cisterna Film Festival: Pole Boy
Best Regional Short Film – 5 Star Productions: "Blood on the Risers"
Best Overall High School Film: "Project Decius"
Runner-up Overall High School Film: "Fish Hook"
Third Place Overall High School Film: "Luke"
Best Regional High School Film: "Luke"
Runner-up Regional High School Film: "Disconnect"
Third Place Regional High School Film: "Caring For the Past, Preserving the Future: The Legacy of the Smith Hospital"
Best People of Color Film: Black Boys
Best Indigenous Film: Djäkamirr: Caretaker of Pregnancy and Birth
Best Narrative Feature Film: Kaali Maati
Best Documentary Short Film: Voices from the Sit-in
Best Animated Film: Made in Spain
Best Music Video: "Sure Don't Miss You"
Best College Short Film: Sundown Town
Best Western Film: Indians, Outlaws, Marshals and the Hangin' Judge
Best Regional College Film: "Shotgun"
Best Short Film – Drama: Rat
Best Short Film – Comedy: "Shotgun"
Best Short Film – Experimental: "Suono"
Best Short Film – Sci-Fi: "Connected"
Best Short Film – Action: "The Connection"
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.
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.