Pensacola Film Fest – opening night

film fest

Damn it was cold! Jesus Camp was great, but the cold winds off Pensacola Bay made it rough to watch the flick in front of the T.T. Wentworth.

The IN Party was a hit with the movie producers – Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp) & Kevin Wheatley/Jamie Bullock (Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell). And our usual friends and fans – Wendy Summers (Q100), Lisa Bell & Michael Loft (WEAR), John Asmar, Jim & Mary McClellan, Raela Villaneuva, David Bailey, Breaktime Cafe crew, 60 Cycles of Sound, Jeff DeWeese (pre-party beer) and a cast of dozens.
Heidi is young, bright and very outgoing. Actually thought IN offices were a downtown bar at first. She talked how crazy the last few days have been since it was revealed Ted Haggard had paid for the services of a male prostitute for the past 3 years. Haggard is featured in a segment of Jesus Camp. Heidi seemed a little disappointed that there weren’t any protesters. She spoke about how great it was to work with Pensacola atty Mike Papantonio – who is the voice of reason in the film.

Beach Party crew take centerstage tomorrow when their film is shown on the big TT Wentworth screen. They came for the Red Bull twisters and any food left on the IN buffet. It was fun showing them the office because last film fest we were still on the West Side in the abandoned yoga show next to a tattoo parlor and Dominos.

Other observations: Ferdinand Plaza was a great setting for the opening – but it was cold. Not sure if lack of publicity or cold weather kept the crowd small – there were clusters of people huddled under blankets.

As usual, the News Journal marketing team who fought so hard to be the VIP sponsor – as part of their neverending quest to shut us out of events – didn’t show up. They got their logo on all the posters – we didn’t. We throw a party, bring a crowd. PNJ is the one who gets their butts kissed, but are no-shows. Alas, the life of the alt-weekly.

One funny note: I attended an invitation-only reception and viewing at the African-American Heritage Society. There is a documentary being done on the killing of black men in the early 1900s. The producer – who asked that those in attendance not write about the film yet – was suppose to be available for me to interview. When I arrive Sheila Reed (PNJ’s Newspaper In Education director) and a reporter were there.

Reed goes and sits on the floor at the feet of the producer – making it impossible for me to have a private conversation with producer. It was the most blatant, unprofessional move to keep me from interviewing someone that I’ve experienced. It was so obvious that it was laughable. We were told that the PNJ had been promised an exclusive on the film’s debut – but this was ridiculous.

Fortunately, the producer (sorry, she asked that we not use her name for now) did get up for food and I got my chance to speak with her. We hit it off fine – my Mississippi background fits into her research. She is very frightened for her life and for the well-being of some of the people she interviewed – even though some of the incidents occurred a 100 years ago. The film has been chosen for the Sundance Film Festival in January and we will have more on it between now and then.

PNJ Publisher Kevin Doyle and I get along fine, but I guess some of the competition from the old guard will still be there…..which will make for good blogging.