Reviewing My Experience at Film Fest 919

North Carolina is lucky enough to have its own fantastic film festival that occurs annually in Chapel Hill every October. Last week, I attended Film Fest 919 for my fourth time (and my third time on a press pass) and got to see a handful of film. I didn’t see as many as I normally would, because of other plans and having seen many films already at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Film Fest 919 was founded by Carol Marshall and Randi Emerman and every year it brings fantastic films to the Triangle, sometimes up to months before their wide release. Some of the films shown at the festival often go on to be nominated for and win Academy Awards, while others are the type of films that may not be released in theaters in the area, making Film Fest 919 the only chance to see them on a big screen.

This year, the festival was once again at Silverspot Theater and made its debut at the Lumina Theater nearby. The theaters have plenty of screens to allow for a variety of screening times for the films. I’m also personally very fond of the Silverspot Theater because its seats are comfortable and you can get food delivered to your seat, which definitely comes in handy if you’re seeing lots of films in a row.

This year’s program featured lots of amazing films, starting with Devotion on opening night. Director JD Dillard came to the festival to do a Q&A with the audience and to receive the Horizon Award, recognizing “an outstanding filmmaker whose work not only demonstrates excellence in their craft, but perhaps more importantly, signals a stunning breakthrough in their own artistry and body of work.” The festival closed with Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, for which he was given the Distinguished Screenwriter Award.

Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell in Devotion

Other films playing over the course of the five days included Oscar hopefuls like Women Talking and Empire of Light, international films from 13 countries including Corsage and Saint Omer, and documentaries like Good Night Oppy and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. The full program can be seen here.

The Audience Favorite Award Winners were The Banshees of Inisherin and The Quiet Girl, notably both films set in Ireland. The runner-up was the moving procedural She Said.

I personally saw Devotion on opening night and very much enjoyed the Q&A after with Dillard. I was so impressed by the performance of newcomer Catherine Clinch in The Quiet Girl. On Saturday night, I saw two of my most anticipated films of the year – She Said and White Noise – and was blown away by both. Keep an eye out for my reviews coming soon.

If you love films and can make it to North Carolina in October, then Film Fest 919 is very worth your time. An announcement will be made soon about the dates for the 2023 festival. Make sure to give them a follow on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

Nicole Ackman is a Public History graduate student at NC State University and a film, television, and theatre critic. She is Rotten Tomatoes and Cherry Picks approved and is a member of the NCFCA and OAFFC. You can find her on Twitter, probably talking about period dramas or Andrew Garfield, at @nicoleackman16.

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