The Reedy Reels Film Festival returns to Greenville with more than 40 films scheduled, including the feature-length “The Girl Who Wore Freedom,” an award-winning documentary about D-Day to be screened on the 77th anniversary of D-Day, June 6.
Shorter films from across the country dominate the three-day event, June 4-6. The festival also gives the audience the unique opportunity to engage with filmmakers in several Q&A sessions after the screenings.
“We’ve got filmmakers coming in from Los Angeles and upstate New York and all points in-between,” said Mike Giordano, the festival’s director of operations.
“The filmmakers are super-excited to come to Greenville,” he said. “I think many of them are thrilled to go to a live festival with a live audience and enjoy that feedback, energy and connection.”
The films range from dramas and comedies to documentaries, animation and student works. Films will be screened in one-and-a-half-hour groups, often followed by talk-back sessions.
The shortest film is under 2 minutes; the longest feature film is about an hour and a half.
The sixth-annual festival is moving to a new venue this year, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Festival organizers also opted for June rather than the usual fall festival time.
Physical distancing guidelines will be observed, with the theater accommodating a 50% capacity audience — or about 130 people for each session.
The pandemic forced the festival to be canceled last year. This year, the festival opens with the world premiere of a pandemic comedy, “Hell in a Handbasket,” on Friday, June 4.
“It’s all about a global pandemic and a guy having a chance to save the world,” Giordano said. “He’s the last stand for humanity. To open a post-pandemic film festival with a pandemic comedy is great.”
South Carolina filmmakers are well-represented at the festival. The feature-length “Bryn Gets a Life,” by South Carolina filmmaker Cameron Logan, centers on a self-absorbed slacker trying to recover a valuable autographed record. It will be screened at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5.
Heidi Cox, formerly a prominent actress on the Greenville theater scene, returns to town in the short film “Chasing Fletcher Allen,” which she co-wrote with director Jonathan London.
“‘Chasing Fletcher Allen’ is the story of a woman realizing she has had everything she ever needed all along,” said Cox, who has lived in Los Angeles for several years.
“It means so much for me to bring the film home — like introducing my L.A. friends to my hometown friends,” she added. “We (the team) are truly honored by the Reedy Reels Film Festival. They have been so welcoming.”
Cox and London will attend the screening of the film at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 5.
Two groups of films pay tribute to Upstate actors Gunner Willis (5:30 p.m. June 5) and Hoyt Richards (7 p.m. June 5).
Female filmmakers will be featured prominently throughout the festival.
“We look forward to an extended conversation about the great things female voices are bringing to the industry,” Giordano said.
A festival centerpiece, “The Girl Who Wore Freedom,” takes filmgoers to Normandy to explore the special relationship between the people of the French region and the Allied forces who liberated Normandy on June 6, 1944.
“To have a D-Day film screened on D-Day is pretty significant,” Giordano said. “It’s one of those movies that makes you feel really good about America. It’s about the sacrifices people made in our country and around the world to preserve freedom, and how we should cherish the freedoms we have here in America.”
Christian Taylor, director of the documentary, will participate in a Q&A following the screening at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 6.
The festival aims to promote filmmaking in South Carolina through workshops and by spotlighting student films — from the Fine Arts Center, Clemson University, Bob Jones University and others — and by encouraging networking and collaborations.
“Bringing in outside filmmakers helps local filmmakers see what others are doing in other parts of the country,” Giordano said.
Greenville invariably proves to be a big hit with out-of-town filmmakers.
“People say, ‘Oh my gosh, Greenville’s a great place to watch a film and experience the town,’” Giordano said. “It’s a happenin’ place.”
Paul Hyde writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook (Upstate Onstage) and Twitter (@PaulHyde7).
When you go
What: Reedy Reels Film Festival
When: June 4-6
Where: South Carolina Children’s Theatre, 153 Augusta St. in Greenville
Tickets: $12 for each session; $85 for weekend passes.