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on the record


Lynn Wasson elected Film Society President as Film Festival transforms into Movie Market

Kody Ford

In preparation for its 4th annual international film festival, the River Valley Film Society is stepping up to provide a new opportunity to it global entrants by establishing a film marketplace. In order to helm the new marketplace, Dr. Brandon Chase Goldsmith resigned as president of the non-profit film society. “After co-founding the River Valley Film Society in 2019, it has been amazing to watch the society develop into a film festival and now a movie market,” Dr. Goldsmith reminisces. “A major component in any organization’s ability to grow sustainably, especially non-profits, is the ability to grow past its original founders into new leadership.” Dr. Goldsmith will continue in his role as executive director of the Fort Smith International Film Festival.  

The River Valley Film Society board of directors elected Lynn Wasson as its new president. Wasson co-founded and edited Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine for 22 years and was the interim executive director for Fort Smith’s Advertising and Promotion Commission, giving a her a unique perspective of our region’s arts, entertainment, and tourism.  “No one loves Fort Smith more than Lynn,” declares John McIntosh film society vice president. “I’ve known her for over 25 years, working on countless community events, both large and small, and she has always been genuinely engaged and thoughtful. The film society and entire river valley is lucky to have her.”

The first three annual festivals have attracted 1213 film submissions from over 75 countries, nations, and tribes. With commercial opportunities available, the scale and scope of film entries will increase in the categories of documentary and narrative feature films and will add television series, the most salable of film projects. "Now, along with the notoriety of festival awards and prizes, some of our filmmakers may achieve sales," added Wasson. "Our film society was founded to identify filmmakers, writers, actors, technicians and crew to connect them with opportunities to work professionally."  

The MidAmerica Film Market will be operated by Dr. Goldsmith in partnership with Porter + Craig Media and Film Distribution, an established company headquartered in Hollywood. Sgt. Major Keith Craig and Jeff Porter with Porter + Craig Film and Media Distribution were keynote speakers at the 2023 festival providing a workshop and offered licensing agreements to five films from the festival (two from Arkansas, one from Oklahoma, one from Florida and one from Canada). “While the first two years focused on exhibition, in 2023 we added distribution, an economic component, transforming the film festival into a movie market,” explains Dr. Goldsmith. “As a new addition to the 2024 Fort Smith International Film Festival, the MidAmerica Film Market will provide filmmakers with an opportunity to meet with and have their movies reviewed by international and domestic buyers, distributors, sales agents, and media executives. This will not only be a game changer for Arkansas’ film industry but our entire region!”

As the Fort Smith International Film Festival transforms into a movie market, audiences will still enjoy a self-selected array of movies, while independent film directors and producers will have the chance to reach the ultimate filmmaker goal of getting their projects distributed theatrically, digitally and/or through traditional broadcast.  

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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.