AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Black Cat Picture Show is gearing up for its seventh year.

The three-day event kicks off Friday, August 20th and runs through Sunday, August 22nd at Le Chat Noir in Downtown Augusta.

The film festival has grown and this year it’s partnering with film studio A24 to have “The Green Knight” headline its opening night.

The festival is not just an opportunity to watch films; it’s a chance for filmmakers to meet, network, and appreciate the craft they love.

NewsChannel 6’s Brandon Dawson sat down with the festival’s co-founders, Duane Brown and Jaye Starkes, to learn more about the festival.

The Black Cat Picture Show is coming up in August. Tell us a little bit about what it’s all about.

“This is the seventh of our film festival,” says Brown. “We are the only international adjudicated film festival in the CSRA. The great thing about our festival, being the type of festival that it is, being international, you’ll see films that you wouldn’t see otherwise. We had submissions from nineteen different countries, but the films that are going to be screening here are films that came from France, some as far away as Saudi Arabia, Italy, Austria, and New Zealand. So, I think not only are you getting the rapport from filmmakers that may come to the festival, but also network with some that have come from far away and you’re seeing films that you would not see otherwise.”

If you’re a local filmmaker in town, would you encourage someone to come to this event?

“I’ve always found that being able to see films that are maybe out of pocket for the Augusta scene actually give me drive to do something that I’ve never done before,” says Brown. “I think that seeing the process of how some higher tier films are made and actually picking the brains of the filmmakers who made them is an education in itself. I highly encourage anyone who has an interest in film making, especially students, who we did receive a good bit of entries this year, and I think those who wanted feedback concerning why their films weren’t selected, can possibly pick up on why they weren’t just by attending the festival and seeing the selections we have.”

“We are the only adjudicated film festival in the CSRA,” says Starkes. “We’re going into our seventh year. So, when people actually submit, we’re not just accepting anything. There’s a caliber, a rubric in place that you have to pass a certain level in order to be here. We’re trying to compete with the big dogs: the New York Film Festival, Cannes, and things of that nature. So, we’re really stringent on our way of picking and the way we go about ordering and really locking in our projects that we have in here.”

In your opinion, why is it important to have these kind of events in the area?

“It’s important because I think that, in some ways, we’re bringing people into town to spend money,” says Brown. “So, I think it’s good for the Augusta economy. I do think that it also creates companionship among other filmmakers who are willing to show up to the festival and see what we’re about. I think it’s also important to have a venue in Augusta where you’re able to see films that you would not see otherwise. I think it’s culturally significant for Augusta to grow. We have theaters here that show mainly blockbusters…ones that will show an independent film for a day or two before it’s taken out of the theater. I think it’s important that we bring ourselves into one gathering space and be able to enjoy what all cinema has to offer.”

Now, there’s a big film that’s premiering here in the area at this festival. Tell us about that.

“This will be the southern festival premiere of A24’s ‘The Green Knight’. A24’s ‘The Green Knight’ is based on ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’. If you haven’t seen the trailer, you can see it anywhere online or on our page on Facebook,” says Brown.

“They make amazing pictures. They’re one of my favorites. If you’ve seen ‘Hereditary‘, ‘It Comes at Night‘, ‘The Lobster‘, ‘Midsommar‘…it’s top notch, quality films. You need to come out and watch ‘The Green Knight’ and it’s only playing one night, so you need to get your tickets, for the whole festival, if you can; but make sure you get your tickets, because it’s one night and it’s gone and this will be a premiere in the South. No other festival has ever done this, ever,” says Starkes.

“Come on down to the ‘Black Cat Picture Show’. That way, you can rub elbows and network with people and filmmakers with fresh ideas from all around the world. You don’t have to go to the movie theater to see the same rigmarole that you always see. You get to see different effects…emotions from every place and – best thing – is you are literally sitting right next to the filmmakers. So, you can talk about their inspirations that might inspire you as well, too,” said Starkes.

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