KNOXVILLE, TN (October 4, 2023) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Visit Knoxville announces today the full festival lineup for FILM FEST KNOX, taking place November 9-12, 2023 at the Regal Riviera in downtown Knoxville. In addition to the previously announced six feature films for the American Regional Film Competition (Evening Song (for three voices), Kick Me, Lousy Carter, Mountains, Peak Season, and Somewhere Quiet), FILM FEST KNOX programming includes an exciting array of acclaimed festival highlights and revivals, the Elev8or Pitch, Made in Tennessee films, panels, networking opportunities, and more.
“We are ecstatic about the the incredible films that will be showcased throughout the weekend of our first-time festival,” said Curt Willis, Director of the Visit Knoxville Film Office. “We think it’s something that Knoxville as a community can really get behind and be proud of, and we’re looking forward to having the opportunity to host many filmmakers in person at FILM FEST KNOX.”
The Elev8or Pitch Competition kicks off the festival on Thursday, November 9. The top eight teams will have their films screened followed by their one-minute pitch in front of a live audience and panel of judges. The weekend continues with a packed schedule of feature length films, shorts, panels, a screening of all Elev8or Pitch films, and other festivities and networking events.
The Made in Tennessee category is an especially exciting section for festival attendees. A Hard Problem is particularly noteworthy for local audiences. A moving drama about mourning and loss, this film transforms Knoxville into a recognizable near future in which artificial intelligence has become an everyday convenience and moral dilemma. Filmed in Knoxville, A Hard Problem was the first feature film written and directed by the LA-based duo known as hazart.
Made in Tennessee also features two locally-made documentaries that blend the excitement of sports with engaging off-field stories. Country Brawlers, by Curren Sheldon, is a raw and intimate look into the lives of professional boxers in Appalachia and the coaches that give them a fighting chance in an unforgiving region. One More Week, by Samuel Wayne Scott, documents the journey of several West High seniors as they attempt to win a state football championship while coming to terms with the end of high school.
The International Currents and Revival sections include nine feature films and ten shorts by acclaimed artists, past and present, and offer a representative survey of film art in 2023. “Six of the eight films in International Currents will screen at FILM FEST KNOX a month after their US premieres at the New York Film Festival,” noted Artistic Director Darren Hughes.
The film program will kick off on Friday, November 10, with one of the first-ever screenings of Time of the Heathen (1961), Peter Kass’s “lost” film about a wandering drifter in upstate New York who goes on the run after witnessing a murder. Time of the Heathen won the grand prize at the 1962 Bergamo International Film Festival but went mostly unseen until this year, after a recently discovered film print was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and premiered at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Italy. FILM FEST KNOX is proud to screen Time of the Heathen as part of its commitment to expanding the understanding of America’s rich history of regional filmmaking.
Additionally, FILM FEST KNOX will offer two panels, designed to educate budding filmmakers. One will feature “The Art of the Pitch” by Founder and CEO of Seed & Spark, Emily Best. The other presents the Executive Director of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, Bob Raines, and Visit Knoxville Film Office Director, Curt Willis, for a conversation about filming in Tennessee and Knoxville.
Sunday will wrap up the program with an awards ceremony, recognizing the winners of various categories, including the American Regional Cinema Competition, where the winner of Best Film receives an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run courtesy of Regal. Awards in that category also include Best Director and Jury Prize. Awards in the Made in Tennessee category include Best Film and Jury Prize. Awards will also be given for Best Film in the Elev8or Pitch category as well as various other prizes. FILM FEST KNOX is also proud to award a total of $18,000 in cash prizes to our talented award winners.
Summarizing this year's program, Hughes said, “Our programming goal with FILM FEST KNOX is to showcase personal and ambitious regional filmmaking alongside the very best contemporary world cinema and revivals that wouldn’t screen in Knoxville otherwise.”
Festival passes are on sale at FILMFESTKNOX.com.
Festival passholders can now select their blocks and events on FILMFESTKNOX.com.
Single block tickets will go on sale October 10 on FILMFESTKNOX.com.
About Thirty (Dir. Martín Shanly)
92 minutes, 2023, Argentina
This comedy of errors revolves around a hapless 30-year-old named Arturo. His penchant for indiscretions is as impossible to overlook as the finesse with which the film glides from March 2020 to the preceding decade and back again.
Anselm (Dir. Wim Wenders)
93 minutes, 2023, Germany
A 3D study of the artist Anselm Kiefer that documents his work by navigating through his massive studio spaces and installations. Anselm is the portrait of an artist who, like famed director Wim Wenders (both were born in 1945), has spent a lifetime reckoning with Germany’s past.
Laberint Sequences (Dir. Blake Williams)
21 minutes, 2023, Canada
Shot in Barcelona’s Laberint d’Horta, the film charts several journeys into the garden in search of its center, where a statue of Eros waits. As the film navigates the maze’s false pathways, its structure begins to crack, and a mysterious underworld floods its gates. Screening before Anselm.
Fallen Leaves (Dir. Aki Kaurismäki)
81 minutes, 2023, Finland
In modern-day Helsinki, Ansa and Holappa, two lonely souls in search of their first love, meet by chance in a local karaoke bar. However, the pair’s path to happiness is beset by numerous obstacles—from lost phone numbers to mistaken addresses, alcoholism, and a charming stray dog.
The Daughters of Fire (Dir. Pedro Costa)
9 minutes, 2023, Portugal
Three young sisters are set apart by the eruption of Fogo. But they sing. One day, we will know why we live and why we suffer. Screening before Fallen Leaves.
Here (Dir. Bas Devos)
82 minutes, 2023, Belgium
Set in Brussels, Here revolves around a potential love story between a Romanian construction worker and a Belgian-Chinese doctorate student, who cross paths just before the former is about to move back home.
Mambar Pierrette (Dir. Rosine Mbakam)
93 minutes, 2023, Cameroon
Pierrette is a single mother in Cameroon, where the beginning of the school year brings more work for her business as a seamstress, along with mounting expenses. As flooding rains and other misfortunes gather around her, Pierrette carries on as best as she can, laughing and commiserating with her neighbors.
Music (Dir. Angela Schanelec)
108 minutes, 2023, Germany
Abandoned as a baby, Jon finds himself in prison on a manslaughter charge. He falls in love with prison guard Iro, unaware of their fateful connection. Schanelec’s tenth feature film is a uniquely elliptical, mysterious, and personal adaptation of Oedipus Rex.
Time of the Heathen (Dir. Peter Kass)
75 minutes, 1961, US
A wandering drifter witnesses a murder and goes on the run with the victim’s son. Winner of the grand prize at the 1962 Bergamo International Film Festival Time of the Heathen went mostly unseen until this year, after a recently discovered film print was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman (Dir Rosine Mbakam)
76 minutes, 2018, Cameroon
Mbako's first feature-length film documents her first return to Cameroon after seven years of living abroad, when she reunites with her mother, introduces her family to her French husband and their son, and processes in real time the split consciousness of the immigrant experience.
I Heard it Through the Grapevine (Dir. Dick Fontaine, Pat Hartley)
95 minutes, 1982, UK
A document of James Baldwin’s return to America in 1980, when he revisited several locations of violent struggle during the Civil Rights movement. At each stop—in Atlanta, Birmingham, Selma, Jackson, St. Augustine, and then up to Newark—he laments with old allies in the struggle.
New York Stories: Jim Jennings (Dir. Jim Jennings)
60 minutes, 1974-2006, US
In 1967, at the age of 16, Jim Jennings got his hands on a 16mm Keystone camera and began his five-decade avocation as a painter, sculptor, photographer, and experimental filmmaker. This program of new 2K scans of several key films is presented in memory of Jennings, who passed away in 2022.
Made in Tennessee
Country Brawlers (Dir. Curren Sheldon)
88 minutes, 2023, US
Filmed over the course of two years, Country Brawlers is a raw and intimate look into an eclectic cast of characters that make up rural boxing in Central Appalachia—a region struggling with poverty, addiction, and hopelessness—and how the sport of boxing can be a vehicle for change, purpose, and redemption.
A Hard Problem (Dir. hazart)
109 minutes, 2021, US
After the death of his mother, Ian begins cleaning out the family home while his estranged sister Lisa makes funeral arrangements. The tensions between them become more heated after Ian hides a precious memento from Lisa, forcing her to call in help from a mysterious investigator.
One More Week (Dir. Samuel Wayne Scott)
75 minutes, 2023, US
The seniors of the West High football team are on pace to be the winningest in program history despite never having made it past the semi-finals of the playoffs. One More Week is the journey of their final attempt to win a state championship as they come to terms with the end of high school.
Made in Tennessee Shorts
90 minutes, 2023
- After, Life. (Dir. Jakey Lutso)
- Baseball with Dad (Dir. Cody McHan)
- Black & White (Dir. Nick Jackson)
- Cart Return (Dir. Matt Webb)
- Distant People (Dir. Nathan Swann)
- Fish (Dir. Eli Heaton)
- Hard Cut (Dir. Ava Perkins, Jimbo Canida, Meaghan Casey, Kyle Dyra, Emerald Harvey, and AJ Freeman)
- MK Ultra Violence (Dir. Jay Curtis Miller)
- Sword, Skill & Sorcery (Dir. Shayna Rae Funderburk, Franklin)
American Regional Film Competition (Previously Announced)
An Evening Song (for three voices) (Dir. Graham Swon)
86 minutes – Drama
In the 1930s a former child-prodigy writer moves to the countryside with her pulp-fiction scribe husband where they become entwined in a love triangle with their religious housekeeper. The second narrative feature by Swon, winner of the 2023 Indie Spirit John Cassavetes Award. Shot in Fairfield and Bentonsport, Iowa. Starring Hannah Gross (Joker, Mindhunter), Deragh Campbell (MS Slavic 7, Anne at 13,000 Ft.), and Peter Vack (Bully, Send).
Kick Me (Dir. Gary Huggins)
86 minutes – Comedy, Action, Horror
A nightmare comedy about a school counselor whose compassion, generosity, and dedication destroy the lives of everyone around him. Winner of Best Feature at the Kanazawa (Japan) and Fantaspoa (Brazil) Film Fests. Shot in Kansas City, Kansas. Starring Santiago Vasquez, Matthew Stathas and Josh Fadem (Better Call Saul, Twin Peaks: The Return).
Lousy Carter (Dir. Bob Byington)
80 minutes – Comedy
A literature professor assesses a troubling medical diagnosis. Nominee for the Golden Leopard Award for Best Film at the 2023 Locarno International Film Festival. Shot in Austin, Texas. Starring David Krumholtz (Oppenheimer, The Deuce), Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Silicon Valley), and Stephen Root (Office Space, King of the Hill).
Mountains (Dir. Monica Sorelle)
95 minutes – Drama
While looking for a new home for his family, a Haitian demolition worker is faced with the realities of redevelopment as he is tasked with dismantling his rapidly gentrifying Miami neighborhood. Winner of the Special Jury Mention U.S. Narrative Feature and nominee for the Founders Award Best U.S. Narrative Feature at the 2023 Tribeca Festival. Shot in Miami, Florida. Starring Atibon Nazaire, Sheila Anozier, and Chris Renois.
Peak Season (Dir. Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner)
84 minutes – Comedy, Drama, Romance
An emotionally adrift young woman forges an unexpected friendship with a wilderness guide when she and her fiancé take a summer holiday. A Narrative Spotlight selection at the 2023 South by Southwest Film Festival. Shot in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Starring Claudia Restrepo (The End of Us), Derrick Joseph DeBlasis, and Ben Coleman.
Somewhere Quiet (Dir. Olivia West Lloyd)
98 minutes – Thriller
Follows a woman as she readjusts to normalcy after a kidnapping. Her sense of reality begins to deteriorate when she travels to her husband's family compound. Nominee for the Founders Award Best U.S. Narrative Feature at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. Shot in Cotuit, Massachusetts. Starring Jennifer Kim (The Bourne Legacy, Mozart in the Jungle), Kentucker Audley (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Her Smell), and Marin Ireland (Hell or High Water, Light from Light).
Regal, a subsidiary of the Cineworld Group, operates one of the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuits in the United States, consisting of 5,818 screens in 429 theatres in 41 states along with the District of Columbia and Guam as of July 31, 2023. We believe that the size, reach and quality of the company’s theatre circuit provides its patrons with a convenient and enjoyable moviegoing experience. We are committed to being “The Best Place to Watch a Movie!” Additional information is available on Regal’s website: REGmovies.com.
ABOUT THE PUBLIC CINEMA
The Public Cinema was created to share vital works of contemporary international and American cinema—works that might otherwise be unseen or overlooked by Knoxville audiences. Most of the films screened are discoveries from the festival circuit; many are Tennessee or regional premieres. Whatever is screened, the only agenda is to create a space for cinema as an art form and to promote discussion among discerning moviegoers. For more information visit publiccinema.org.
ABOUT THE VISIT KNOXVILLE FILM OFFICE
The Visit Knoxville Film Office serves to strengthen Knoxville’s economy through the promotion of the city as a premiere filming location. By attracting motion media companies to Knoxville through the marketing of its locations, accommodations, services, crew, and talent, the Film Office fosters the creation of jobs in the area, stimulates business opportunities, and generates exposure. Knoxville has three times been named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker. For more information visit filmknoxvilletn.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
Director of Communications