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Chattanooga Film Festival

I live in a really great city. I would say I’m a little biased, but I moved here last summer because I already knew it was great. But I am still constantly amazed at how wonderful it actually is. There’s a huge local scene here that values the importance of community and knows what being a neighbor means. I work at a local coffee shop, and I often see our regulars all around town. I walk down the street and pass by countless restaurants that incorporate local food sources in their fare. I pass by shops where the owners sit behind the counters and are always willing to start up conversations with you as you browse through their wares.

This community finds itself located on the Tennessee River, and they have done an amazing job at creating something that feels just like home. As my friend Jenna would say, “It’s the biggest small town I’ve ever lived in.” Most importantly, this town offers an endless supply of opportunities to be involved in, and that, I think, is what makes people stay.

Chattanooga’s annual film festival happened recently, and I was able to attend the Tennessee filmmakers block where the only stipulations were the film either had to be made by a Tennessean or it had to be about Tennessee in some way. I’m sure there were many entries, but in the end, only 10 films were shown. The directors ranged from amateur filmmakers with minimal equipment to old hats with Hollywood ties.

film fest

Each one was different from the one before, but they were all so well done. Some were dialogue based, some visual, and some let the actual plot guide the story.

There was one that had me completely captivated called Persimmon Ridge, directed by Paul Marchard. This one was 20-minute black and white film that followed a woman around her farm through the spring time. There was no speaking, but the sounds of the farm and the surrounding woods gave the film a soundtrack that brought back memories of visits to my own family’s Georgia farm. With its seemingly simple elements, it told a beautiful story of family, history, and hard work.

Another was a mockumentary about a band of two whose only instruments were pillows. And they only played covers. (Get it?) This one had great comedic timing and was a light-hearted addition to the collections of films. You could just tell this film was fun to make, and the director (Sylvia Zdunek) was praised by an audience member for her comedic talent during the Q & A.

A third stand-out called The Little Stage featured a forgotten building sitting on the edge of Bon Aqua, TN. Directed by Will Berry, it showcased some lost footage of Johnny Cash dating back to the 1970’s that showed the importance of this old building. The film follows the restoration of this structure from its decrepit state to its newly refurbished form as a small music hall and museum, paying homage to its former talented guests.

I consider myself lucky when I think about the things I have been able to do and see since I moved here.

Guys, Chattanooga is so great. The people. The mountains. The food. The coffee. Everything. I’m just so glad I get to live in a place like this.

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