You may not initially think of North Carolina as a hub for prestige cinema, but a festival is working hard to change that. Specifically, Film Fest 919 in Chapel Hill (where I’ll be this week). This fourth installment of the fest has a diverse lineup of 2021’s most eclectic fare, ranging from major Oscar hopefuls to some prior festival hits. Two years ago, I attended 919 in person and was blown away by the intimate feel of it all, even as things ranging from Ford v Ferrari and Marriage story, to Parasite and Waves, with plenty in between, screened. This year, I’m back, and that again is the case, though I’m here for a very specific reason, which I’ll talk a bit about below. Alongside the screenings, there’s also a Spotlight event tonight celebrating Diane Warren, with the legend in attendance.
In terms of what’s screening, there’s no shortage of terrific movies. I’ve seen most of them prior to the festival, but will be taking in, at the very least, King Richard (the Opening Night selection) and The Lost Daughter, alongside whatever else time allows for. As for things I’ve already seen, they include C’mon C’mon (the Centerpiece selection), The French Dispatch, The Hand of God, A Hero, Mass, The Novice, Passing, Red Rocket, Spencer (the Closing Night selection), The Worst Person in the World, and more. It’s as if the fest hand picked the best of what’s screened this year, presenting it to the fine folks of Chapel Hill (that’s pretty much exactly what they did, in fact).
The other big event at Film Fest 919, which I’m taking part in, concerns Red Rocket. Specifically, writer/director Sean Baker and writer Chris Bergoch will be celebrated for their work. They’ll be receiving the Distinguished Screenwriter Award, with Baker appearing virtually and Bergoch showing up in person. Furthermore, a presentation will be taking place after the screening, followed by a conversation with Bergoch, moderated by yours truly, which is a huge honor. That’s one of the reasons I’m here, but it’s also just a joy to be down south enjoying this sort of cinematic environment.
Here now are twenty movies to look out for at this year’s Film Fest 919:
19. See For Me
18. A Chiara
17. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
16. Oleg: The Oleg Vidov Story
15. Petite Maman
14. Catch the Fair One
12. The Hand of God
11. A Hero
8. The Novice
7. The Lost Daughter
5. C’mon C’mon
3. King Richard
1. Red Rocket
As you can see, Film Fest 919 is going to be a blast for all who attend. If you’re in the area, definitely check it out. If not, sit tight for some coverage. It may not have the notoriety of other festivals, but top to bottom, it’s as good as any other going on right now. Trust me, they’re only going to become more and more prestigious as the years progress…
Stay tuned for more coverage of Film Fest 919!