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20 June 2019

Inaugural Etowah Film Festival

Written by Sandy McGrew

As Laine Wood sat in a film festival with friends in her old hometown of Sanford, Florida, a year ago, a seed began to germinate, and an idea was born. Fast forward to May 24, and welcome to the inaugural Etowah Film Festival (EFF) in Canton.
Wood found a business partner in Brent Lambert-Zaffino, and the two began contacting filmmakers, actors, producers, directors, and sponsors to promote their product, and submissions began arriving.

Several people reviewed the submissions, spending about 100 hours judging entries. Genres included Documentary, Domestic Violence, Subject Narrative, Feature Narrative, Student Short, Horror Film Short, Georgia High School Film, and Animated Film. Though it’s an international film festival, many of the entries were created locally by native Georgia writers, producers, crews, and actors.

The historic Canton Theatre was the perfect venue to host the EFF. Its quiet charm and elegance juxtaposed with a casual vibe set the stage, if you will, for a unique weekend of entertainment in Canton.

The festival opened Thursday evening with high school and college short films. The young entrants were very talented. Judging from the work they presented to EFF, their futures in filmmaking are limitless.

Friday evening short films included a range of comedy, public awareness, and drama. One of the shorts, “Andrew’s Letter Home,” which is a drama set during WWII about a farming mother who receives the terrible news that her son has died in the war, delivered heart-wrenching writing and acting. Many viewers were left wanting more. During the Q&A session after the film’s conclusion, the writer and producers revealed that it was their goal to expand the short into a full-length feature or a TV miniseries.

The surprise Friday evening was a visit from Santa Claus. Cherokee County’s own Tim Cavender plays Santa in the Blue Heron film Charlie’s Christmas Wish. Names and faces you’d recognize are Diane Ladd, Lindsey McKeon, Roy Taylor, and Aiden Turner. This one should be released during late fall in time for Christmas.

It was a whirlwind weekend of films, actors, swag bags, and popcorn, and all entries were shining examples of the film industry. Congratulations to this year’s winners.

About the Author

Sandy McGrew

Sandy McGrew

Sandy McGrew is a ten-year Canton resident who represents ward 1 in the Canton City Council.