SCAD Film Festival
Nicholas Hoult showing off his award at the 2022 SCAD Savannah Film Festival

The Savannah College of Art and Design has announced the lineup for its 2023 SCAD Savannah Film Festival, and it features NYAD and Origin.

Taking place from Oct. 21–28 in Savannah, Georgia, the 26th annual festival celebrates both professional and student filmmakers.

This year’s opening night screening on Oct. 21 will be NYAD directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The drama is based on the true story of world-class athlete Diana Nyad. Three decades after giving up marathon swimming in exchange for a prominent career as a sports journalist, at the age of 60, Diana (Annette Bening) becomes obsessed with completing an epic swim that always eluded her: the 110-mile trek from Cuba to Florida.

The closing night screening on Oct. 28 will be ORIGIN, filmed partly in Savannah and written and directed by Ava DuVernay. ORIGIN chronicles the tragedy and triumph of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor) as she investigates a global phenomenon of epic proportions. The movie is inspired by the New York Times bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

The festival will also feature several panel discussions featuring different filmmakers throughout the festival.

“The future of film lives at SCAD, where audiences can see next year’s Oscar winners at our SCAD Savannah Film Festival later this month, and where guests are treated to a BTS tour of the latest and greatest SCAD triumph: the new backlot at Savannah Film Studios, the largest at any university in the world,” SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace said. “From Savannah cityscapes to a courthouse square and suburbs, the backlot is a paradise for our Bees and other area filmmakers. Come see everything for yourself!”

“We are excited for this year’s lineup at the 26th annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival, which features Origin, May December, and The Color Purple, all filmed in Savannah and the coastal Georgia area,” added SCAD Savannah Film Festival Executive and Artistic Director Christina Routhier. “The programming for this year’s festival is stronger than ever, celebrating outstanding cinema and the filmmakers and artisans behind the art, with over 160 films to screen for SCAD students and our audiences.”

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See the full SCAD 2023 lineup below:

Gala Screenings

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival is renowned for spotlighting major award contenders, and screening a multitude of studio films prior to their wider release. Twenty-five films have been selected for distinguished Gala Screenings:

 All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Director Raven Jackson)

All of Us Strangers (Director Andrew Haigh)

American Fiction (Director Cord Jefferson)

The Bikeriders (Director Jeff Nichols)

The Boy and the Heron (Director Hayao Miyazaki)

Eileen (Director William Oldroyd)

Day of the Fight (Director Jack Huston)

Dream Scenario (Director Kristoffer Borgli)

Finestkind (Director Brian Helgeland)

Foe (Director Garth Davis)

The Holdovers (Director Alexander Payne)

La Chimera (Director Alice Rohrwacher)

A Little Prayer (Director Angus MacLachalan)

May December (Director Todd Haynes)

Maestro (Director Bradley Cooper)

Memory (Director Michel Franco)

NYAD (Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin)

Origin (Director Ava DuVernay)

Perfect Days (Director Wim Wenders)

The Persian Version (Director Maryam Keshavarz)

Priscilla (Director Sofia Coppola)

Poor Things (Director Yorgos Lanthimos)

Robot Dreams (Director Pablo Berger)

Rustin (Director George C. Wolfe)

Saltburn (Director Emerald Fennell)

The Taste of Things (Director Tran Anh Hung)

The Teachers’ Lounge (Director Ilker Çatak)

The Zone of Interest (Director Jonathan Glazer)

Signature Screenings

The Signature Screenings series features premiere and special screenings, with some followed by Q&As with select directors, writers, actors, and producers. This year’s selection of films and series include:

Barbie (Director Greta Gerwig) 

BS High (Directors Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe)

Expats (Director Lulu Wang) 

Isle of Hope (Director Damian Romay)

First Look: ‘The Color Purple’ (Director Blitz Bazawule)

La La Land (Director Damien Chazelle)

Oppenheimer (Director Christopher Nolan)

Past Lives (Director Celine Song)

Shadow Men: Inside Russia’s Secret War Company (Director Candace Rondeaux)

War Pony (Directors Gina Gammell and Riley Keough) 

First Look: Warner Bros. Pictures and Domain Entertainment’s The Color Purple

An inside look at director Blitz Bazawule’s bold new take on the beloved classic The Color Purple, which was filmed in Savannah and throughout coastal Georgia. The film, from all-star producers Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones, features an award-winning cast that includes Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, Halle Bailey, H.E.R., Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, and Fantasia Barrino in her major motion picture debut. The screenplay is by acclaimed playwright Marcus Gardley, who won a WGA Award for Maid. His script is based on the novel by Alice Walker and based on the musical stage play, book (of the musical stage play) by Marsha Norman, music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.

SAVFF LGBTQIA+ Short Film Competition Presented by Amazon MGM Studios 

Recognizing the need for more inclusive storytelling in the filmmaking industry, the 2023 SCAD Savannah Film Festival (SAVFF) and Amazon MGM Studios have created a dedicated SAVFF LGBTQIA+ Short Film Competition. Amazon MGM Studios will donate $10,000 for the jury-awarded Best Overall Film and $5,000 for an Audience Award. Films in the program are under 40 minutes in length and represent excellence in storytelling and execution in narrative or documentary formats, reflecting unique insight into LGBTQIA+ themes, issues, or ideas. This year’s films include:

All I Know (Director Obinna Robert Onyeri)

Breakup Text (Director Elizabeth Baudouin)

Fanatic (Director Taran Killam)

I Thought the Earth Remembered Me (Director Prem Santana)

Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story (Directors Zeberiah Newman and Michiel Thomas)

100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu (Director Gbenga Komolafe)

Docs to Watch

The 10th annual Docs to Watch series will be accompanied by a roundtable with the directors hosted by Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter. Selected films include:

American Symphony (Director Matthew Heineman)

Beyond Utopia (Director Madeleine Gavin)

Kokomo City (Director D. Smith)

Silver Dollar Road (Director Raoul Peck)

Stamped from the Beginning (Director Roger Ross Williams)

Still (Director Davis Guggenheim)

The Eternal Memory (Director Maite Alberdi)

The Deepest Breath (Director Laura McGann)

The Mission (Directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss)

20 Days in Mariupol (Director Mstyslav Chernov)

Sketch to Screen: Top Animated Contenders

Hosted by Clayton Davis of Variety, Sketch to Screen highlights the top animated films of the year. Showcasing a broad array of artistic avenues and animation styles, these films tell compelling stories as they contend for Oscar acclaim. Selected films include:

Elemental (Director Peter Sohn)

Nimona (Directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, and Kemp Powers)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Director Jeff Rowe)

Trolls Band Together (Director Walt Dohrn)

After Dark

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival’s home for late night fun and genre fare, featuring classic horror and soon-to-be cult classics selected to thrill, scare, and entertain:

The Phantom of the Opera (Director Rupert Julian) with live organ accompaniment

Shorts Spotlight: Horrors in Plain Sight, featuring a selection of horror-themed short films

Competition Films

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival celebrates the work of established and emerging filmmakers, from feature-length films to two-minute shorts. The juried competition showcases the best of professional, animated, and student films selected from more than 2,100 entries annually. Jurors include Seth Fradkoff (executive vice president, MGM), Migizi Pensoneau (writer and producer), Jeanie Pyun (deputy editorial director, The Hollywood Reporter) and Rishi Rajani (CEO, Hillman Grad).

Narrative Features

From side-splitting comedies to heart-wrenching dramas, the narrative feature films selected represent diversity in storytelling, excellence in acting and directing, and exemplary cinematography and editing:

At the Gates (Director Augustus Meleo Bernstein)

Breakwater (Director James Rowe)

Hard Miles (Director R.J. Daniel Hanna)

Intermedium (Director Erik Bloomquist)

Smoking Tigers (Director So Young Shelly Yo)

Documentary Features

Beyond simple subject matters, documentaries present compelling stories that illuminate and educate audiences in a thought-provoking and timely manner:

Art for Everybody (Director Miranda Yousef)

Bad Press (Directors Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler)

Nathan-ism (Director Elan Golod)

The Only Doctor (Director Matthew Hashiguchi)

Story & Pictures By (Director Joanna Rudnick)

Professional Shorts

Running the gamut of subject matter and style, these short films are selected based on their individual merits in storytelling and execution:

Ambassadors of Hope (Directors Cassidy Friedman and Amber Allen-Peirson)

Don’t Touch My Hair (Director Matthew Law)

I Bet You’re Wondering How I Got Here (Director Ryan Polly)

If Dreams were Lightning: Rural Healthcare Crisis (Director Ramin Bahrani)

Lucas Needs an Agent (Director Lucas Grabeel)

The ABCs of Book Banning (Directors Nazenet Habtezghi and Trish Adlesic)

The Anne Frank Gift Shop (Director Mickey Rapkin)

The Old Young Crow (Director Liam LoPinto)

Panda (Director Sasha Briggs)

Young Hot Bloods (Director Jade Ang-Jackman)

Documentary Shorts

In this mesmerizing collection of shorts, filmmakers explore art, history, politics, and personal profiles to offer a captivating panorama of our world. This years’ films are presented in memory of noted producer Katie Spikes.

God’s Love Split (Director Paloma Holub)

Good Boy (Director Russell Chadwick)

Mayan Softball Revolution (Director Michael Zimbalist)

Seeds of Change (Director Maximilian Armstrong)

Strong Grandma (Directors Cecilia Brown and Winslow Crane-Murdoch)

The Volunteer (Director David Brodie)

The Reconnaissance Painter (Director Matthew Corolis)

Trenton: To The Moon & Back (Director Josh Leong)

Unexpected (Director Zeberiah Newman)

Animated Shorts

These animated films represent the diversity of the craft, from simple, hand-drawn figures to stop-motion and digital rendering, showcasing unique storytelling at its finest:

A Grain of Sand in the Universe (Director Suki)

Astoria (Director Franck Dion)

Feather (Director Sadegh Javadi)

Four Chambers to the Heart (Directors Kostas Ioannidis and Johan Grimonprez)

Holy Men (Director David Lovric)

Menagerie (Director Jack Gray)

Slow Light (Directors Katarzyna Kijek and Przemysław Adamski)

Student Shorts

With solid storytelling and emerging vision, these films represent a broad range of categories including live-action, narrative, documentary, and animation. Shorts from student filmmakers at SCAD and universities in France, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. that are part of the competition include:

 A Snake Called Perseus (Director Yara Elfouly)

Afterimage (Directors Robyn MacIntosh and Serin Chun)

Blood Drive (Director Gurinder Jeet Singh)

Blue Hour (Director J.D. Shields)

Close Your Eyes (Directors Manon Bérardengo, Audrey Defonte, Léo Depoix, Denis Koessler, Clémentine Laurent, Pierre Guislain, and Chloé Boursier)

Expressions (Director Mackenzie Rosario)

Flipping Off (Director Kylie Fishman)

Freeze Frame (Director Katie Smith)

Galibot (Directors Thomas Vandenbussche, Elise Petit, Ambre Grangereau, Emily Cousin, Wan-Jing Yang, and Laure Vernier)

Goro Goro (Directors Ryotaro Sawada and Agatha Tiara Christa)

Hellscape (Directors Alixe Devaux, Camille Leroux, Félicia Poggi, Clémence Lacoume, Lara Brière, and Valentine Wilke)

I Am More Dangerous Dead (Director Majiye Uchibeke)

Just Jacob. (Director Halle Lynn Losordo)

Midnight Hotel (Directors Vincent Albert, Malo Doucet, Neïl Dieu, May Taraud, and Marie Toury)

On the Ground (Directors Lucie Dupeyrat, Nathan Ygouf, Marine Sauvageot, Chirag Paul, Claire Savoye, and Jade Astoux)

Pink Flamingos Everywhere (Director Jordan Vescio)

Primogeniture (Director Savanna Nicole Menzel)

Raising Hell (Director Michelle Bult)

Reunion Dinner (Director Zheng Ren)

Samara Op.4 (Directors Maxime Wattrelos, Jérémy Trochet, Louis Cocquet, Marie Heribel, and François Mainguet)

Sunless (Director Boris Vesselinov)

Tempo (Director Raphaël Chiapparin)

The Fuse (Director Kevin Haefelin)

Those Who Guide Us (Director Mitchell Hemmer)

When We Sleep (Director Alanna Johnson)

Radio Silence (Director Colleen Busch)

The Last Dungeon (Director Alexandra Young)

The Sun is Bad (Director Rachel Mow)

We All Fall (Director Robert Walls IV)

Global Shorts Forum

The Global Shorts Forum is a curated collection of international shorts across multiple genres that focus on world issues. This year’s collections include:

Beyond Identity: A nuanced selection of short films exploring the heights and depths of personal and collective identity. 

Rocking the Cradle of Civilization: A modern collection of short films highlighting the unique challenges people of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian origin face. 

Shorts Spotlight

This year’s Shorts Spotlight themes include:

A Kaleidoscope of Connections: A curious collection of sweet, quirky, and sometimes heartbreaking shorts encompassing the highs and lows of interpersonal relationships.

Family Fun: A delightful collection of short films and animation for film lovers of all ages.   

Horrors in Plain Sight: Part of the festival’s After Dark series, revel in this collection of darker shorts begging the question: What exactly are you afraid of? 

Main Image: Nicholas Hoult showing off his award at the 2022 SCAD Savannah Film Festival, courtesy of SCAD