Film Fest Knox


Coming November 14-17, 2024

In its first year, FILM FEST KNOX 2023 garnered rave reviews from a variety of prestigious trade publications and filmmakers.

“… the loaded program on offer feels far closer to what one might expect to find from a prestigious screening series, not the first iteration of a small Appalachian city’s local festival. If future years maintain this pace and quality, Film Fest Knox stands to become one of the Southeast’s premiere cinephile destinations and celebrations.”
—In Review Online

“In its inaugural year, FILM FEST KNOX has already put itself on the map as a world-class festival and a must-visit destination for independent filmmakers. We can’t wait to return to Knoxville with another film very soon.”
Henry Loevner, Co-Director of Peak Season

“If they keep this up, (Knoxville) will be a destination not only to screen your movie but discover where to shoot your next film. We also can’t emphasize how big of a deal top prize – a 10 city 2 week run in Regal cinemas – is to indie filmmakers, maybe the biggest prize we’ve heard of out of any film festival.”
—hazart, Writer/Director of A Hard Problem

Presented by Visit Knoxville and Regal and in partnership with The Public Cinema, FILM FEST KNOX was created, in part, as a recruiting opportunity for the Visit Knoxville Film Office to continue promoting Knoxville as an independent film hub. The event allowed networking connections with producers and directors who make regional films with budgets under $3 million, so they could consider Knoxville for future filming projects.

This festival also offered the opportunity for festival goers to experience eclectic and powerful programming, carefully curated by Darren Hughes of The Public Cinema who served as Artistic Director for FILM FEST KNOX.

Awards were given in the American Regional Film Competition, the Made in Tennessee Competition, and the Elev8or Pitch competition, with FILM FEST KNOX awarding a total of $18,000 in cash prizes to the winners. In addition, the winner of the American Film Competition was awarded an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run, courtesy of Regal.

American Regional Film Competition
The American Regional Film Competition showcased the diversity of personal and ambitious filmmaking happening outside of the traditional industry capitals of Los Angeles and New York City.

First Place –  Peak Season (Dir. Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner)

Best Director – An Evening Song (for three voices) (Dir. Graham Swon)

Jury Prize – Mountains (Dir. Monica Sorelle)

The jury of the American Regional Film Competition included Jasper Basch, Head of Distribution for Variance Films; Beatrice Loayza, contributing film critic at the New York Times; and Kelly Williams, creative producer and co-founder of Ten Acre Films. On behalf of the jury, Kelly Williams wrote, “As a regionally based producer, I truly appreciate FILM FEST KNOX’s focus on regional cinema. By putting a focus on films made regionally, it celebrates the diverse voices that can often be overlooked at other festivals.”

“We’re so grateful to FILM FEST KNOX and Visit Knoxville for honoring our film Peak Season with this award!” said Henry Loevner, Co-Director of Peak Season. “An Oscar-qualifying theatrical run at Regal is truly a game changer for a small film like ours. We were humbled to screen alongside some extraordinary movies in the American Regional Film Competition.”

Made in Tennessee
The Made in Tennessee competition included three feature films and eight shorts.

Best Film – A Hard Problem (Dir. hazart) NOW STREAMING

Jury Prize – Country Brawlers (Dir. Curren Sheldon)

The jury of the Made in Tennessee category, which included Jack Neely, Executive Director of the Knoxville History Project; Varadila Nurdin, a specialist in documentary project development and film financing forum management; and Robin Wilhoit, Anchor at local NBC affiliate WBIR.

On behalf of the jury, Jack Neely wrote, “We also agreed, again unanimously, that A Hard Problem deserves the top award. It was well written, well cast, well directed, well shot, well edited, a feature film worthy of national or international distribution. On one level it anticipates and explores the current anxiety of Artificial Intelligence, but it goes further to transcend the sci-fi genre to raise provocative questions about the meaning of identity and mortality here and now. Although its protagonist appears to be an especially sophisticated sort of robot, its – or his – dilemma is altogether human, and the film itself is a meditation on the meaning of individuality, love, and perception, with the underlying awareness that everything that makes us who we are will someday end.”

“A Hard Problem winning in the movie’s hometown was a great feather for our cap as we go into wide release. Knoxville is a special place, with an incredible film community, and a downtown designed for a world class film festival, said hazart, Writer/Director of A Hard Problem.

The Elev8tor Pitch Competition
The Elev8or Pitch competition included nineteen film submissions. Films from the top eight teams were screened followed by their one-minute pitch in front of a live audience and panel of judges including Paul Harrill, Co-Chair of the University of Tennessee Cinema Studies program and one of FILM FEST KNOX’s Co-Founders; Kristin Shrader, independent awards consultant for Netflix and other studios; and Keith Thomas, Head of Development for Marcus Entertainment. READ MORE



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