Organizers of Atlanta’s BronzeLens Film Festival hope to build on a successful partnership with France-Atlanta by attracting more international productions for their 2012 event.
The festival’s 2011 edition took place Nov. 10-13 at a variety of venues in the Georgia capital. Organizers will begin accepting submissions for this year’s event Jan. 15.
The festival, which works to promote filmmakers of color, coincided with two weeks of events celebrating the relationship between France and the Southeast coordinated by the French consulate in Atlanta.
Deidre McDonald, BronzeLens’ artistic director, told GlobalAtlanta the festival was first held in 2010 but cooperation with France-Atlanta organizers on last year’s event brought many more international entries.
“We want to uplift Georgia because of all of the production that’s going on and the African-Americans that are involved, but we also wanted to have a global outreach,” Ms. McDonald said. “This was just such a natural opportunity to get that global outreach.”
The partnership brought filmmakers from French-speaking countries including Burkina Faso, France, Morocco, Rwanda and Senegal to BronzeLens 2011. Other international submissions came from Ghana, India, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.
The winner of best international film at last year’s festival was “Kinyarwanda,” a compilation of fictional stories about ethnic violence in Rwanda in 1994. Festival officials promoted the film again when it returned to Atlanta for a Dec. 2 screening at Phipps Plaza.
Ms. McDonald said festival organizers will be reviewing submissions for the 2012 festival until August, and they hope to feature even more international productions.
“We want to broaden the story and want to be able to have people of color from all over the world to be able to have entries that are in the BronzeLens, as well as to give their expertise,” she said.
Terri Vismale-Morris, the festival’s public relations director, told GlobalAtlanta they are promoting BronzeLens 2012 in global publications as well as film associations, schools and production companies.
She said social media like Facebook and Twitter are important tools in promoting BronzeLens internationally, calling them “the fastest real-time dissemination of information at all levels.”
Festival press releases are currently issued only in English, but BronzeLens officials are working to produce multilingual information. Target languages include Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese and Spanish.
Local promotions will take place throughout the year including film screenings and lunch events to engage both filmmakers and the general public.
Ms. McDonald noted that while most of last year’s entries were from African or African-American producers, event organizers try to attract filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds whose works explore diverse cultures.
“We are really moving towards our goal of being multi-ethnic in the things that we do,” she said.
The winner of best overall film at the 2011 festival was “Shanghai Hotel.” Directed by Atlanta filmmaker Jerry Davis, it features a mostly Chinese cast and tells the story of an illegal immigrant from China dealing with issues of human trafficking and starting life over in New York.
The festival also screened “Mumbhai Connection.” Written and directed by Indian-American Mohamed Batcha, it is the first Hindi-language film shot in the Georgia capital.
The first BronzeLens Film Festival was the brainchild of William Pate, executive director of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, or ACVB, and implemented by Kathleen Bertrand, executive producer of the festival, and Sheryl Riley Gripper, executive director.
Ms. McDonald said he felt the city needed a “destination film festival” and the success of filmmakers from Atlanta’s African-American community provided an obvious niche.
Mr. Pate and other ACVB officials remain on the festival’s board of advisers. Other members include local filmmakers and representatives of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Black Entertainment Television LLC, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and representatives of the civic and state governments.
For more information go to www.bronzelensfilmfestival.com.