2023 Festival – FILM FEST KNOX | November 14-17, 2024 Skip to content
Presented by Visit Knoxville and Regal

Showcasing and advocating for personal, ambitious regional cinema.

A Sense of Place …

If film is to remain a vital art form, it cannot be confined to a limited number of coastal hubs.”
The Film Stage on the inaugural edition of FILM FEST KNOX

FILM FEST KNOX launched on November 9, 2023 with a standing-room-only live pitch session for local filmmakers, followed by three full days of screenings, workshops, and events.

Press Coverage

Film Fest Knox Introduces New Ways of Seeing in Inaugural Edition” by Blake Williams at The Film Stage

A Fest is Born” by Vadim Razor at Filmmaker

Film Fest Knox 2023” by Alex Fields at In Review Online

Film Fest Knox Inaugural Event Sets High Bar” by Heather Ryerson at Inside of Knoxville

2023 Program
A Hard Problem

A Hard Problem

Dir. by hazart
After the death of his mother, Ian begins cleaning out the family home while his estranged sister Lisa makes funeral arrangements.

November 11 · Regal Riviera · 8:00 p.m.

An Evening Song

An Evening Song (for three voices)

Dir. by Graham Swon
A writer moves to the Midwest with her novelist husband and they soon find themselves caught in a love triangle with their pious housekeeper.

November 11 · Regal Riviera · 12:30 p.m.

Art of the Pitch event

Art of the Pitch

Pres. by Seed & Spark
Founder and CEO of Seed & Spark, Emily Best, will show you how to make an effective pitch deck.

November 11 · Hyatt Place · 11:30 a.m.

Peak Season receiving Best Film prize

Awards Ceremony

Free Event
Join us as we announce the winners of our various categories.

November 12 · Regal Riviera · 6:00 p.m.

American Regional Competition Jury

Jasper Basch joined Variance Films as Head of Distribution in 2023, handling theatrical distribution of films on behalf of MUBI, Sideshow/Janus Films, Samuel Goldwyn Pictures, Apple, National Geographic Documentary Films, Screen Media Films, and Universal Pictures Content Group. He moved to Variance Films after serving as IFC Films’ Head of Distribution, where he oversaw more than thirty theatrical releases annually.

Beatrice Loayza is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. She is a contributing film critic at the New York Times, and her work appears regularly in Artforum, the Criterion Collection, 4Columns, Film Comment, The Nation, Cinema Scope, Sight & Sound, Reverse Shot, and other publications. For the Metrograph Journal, she writes a monthly column, “Strange Pleasures,” which explores unconventional desires found across underground and mainstream cinema alike.

Kelly Williams is a creative producer and co-founder, with Jonathan Duffy, of Ten Acre Films. His credits include six features that have premiered at Sundance, including Light from Light, Sorry to Bother You (Independent Spirit Award winner), The Long Dumb Road, and Pit Stop (Independent Spirit Award nominee). Other films include: Mark, Mary & Some Other People (Tribeca 2021), No Future (Tribeca 2021), and I Used To Go Here (SXSW 2020).

Made in Tennessee Jury

Jack Neely is the Executive Director of the Knoxville History Project. He has become one of Knoxville’s most popular writers and its unofficial historian who has been writing about his hometown’s character and heritage for many years. Neely is well known for his thoughtful, well-researched, and provocative pieces of long-form journalism, not to mention his books, speeches, and other public appearances.

Varadila Nurdin is a specialist in documentary project development and film financing forum management. She was a Program Director for Docs by the Sea, and has served as a member of the selection committee, panel speaker, moderator, pitch trainer, and juror for international and regional film festivals including Sheffield DocFest, Open City Documentary Festival, Nordisk Panorama Forum, Festival Film Dokumenter Yogyakarta, and Luang Prabang Film Festival.

Robin Wilhoit joined the WBIR news team in 1992 and was eventually given the opportunity to anchor the weekday morning newscasts. In 1998 she joined long-time anchor Bill Williams at the news desk. She is passionate about issues involving women and children, and a member of several community organizations including Variety of East Tennessee, A Children’s Charity, The Next Door, and the University of Tennessee School of Nursing Advisory Board.

Elev8or Live Judging Panel

Paul Harrill’s films have screened in cinemas, on television, and via streaming platforms around the world. Harrill’s second feature, Light From Light, premiered at Sundance and was theatrically released by Grasshopper Film, and named to several year-end lists. His previous films include Something, Anything and the short Gina, An Actress, Age 29 (Sundance Jury Prize). Harrill is Co-Chair of the University of Tennessee Cinema Studies program and one of FILM FEST KNOX’s Co-Founders.

Kristin Shrader is an independent awards consultant working alongside the public relations teams at Warner Bros. Discovery, FOX Entertainment, and Netflix. Prior to launching her own firm, she oversaw communications for series and brand initiatives at the #1 entertainment cable network, USA. She previously held positions at Bravo, Oxygen Media and Fuse TV where she executed unscripted series campaigns and corporate PR initiatives.

Keith Thomas is Head of Development for Marcus Entertainment and has created memorable television series, branded content, and short films as a producer, director, and director of photography for over 25 years. His television credits include The Craftsman, Snapped, Say Yes to the Dress, My Strange Addiction, and Fatal Attraction, among many others. Prior to joining Marcus Entertainment, Thomas was a launch executive at Magnolia Network.

Workshop Leaders

Curt Willis is the Director of the Visit Knoxville Film Office, where he recruits feature films to shoot in Knoxville. Willis is also an actor and filmmaker, having written and produced three feature films and co-directed one of those films, Little Ponderosa Zoo which aired on HBO and Cinemax.

Bob Raines is Executive Director of the Tennessee Entertainment Committee, where h administers the state’s film and TV incentive program; negotiates film, television and music projects; and markets the unique aspects of doing business in Tennessee to companies throughout the country and around the world.

Emily Best created the prototype for film-centric crowdfunding and VOD distribution platform Seed&Spark while raising funds for their feature film Like the Water in 2010.

Made in Tennessee Selection Committee

Eric Dawson is Manager of the Knox County Public Library’s Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection. Previously, he served as head of the Library’s A/V archive, TAMIS. He is a writer and archival filmmaker whose films include Electric Appalachia and Suttree.

Eleni Palis is an Assistant Professor of English and Cinema Studies at the University of Tennessee. She is the author of the book Classical Projections: The Practice and Politics of Film Quotation (Oxford University Press, 2022).

Amanda Thornton works at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but her passion has always been movies. She previously managed film festivals nationwide for Regal and has volunteered at Nashville and Knoxville Film Festivals.

Elev8or Final Round Committee

Amy Leigh Hubbard has worked in tv, film and digital media since 2012. Notable work includes co-producing If Dreams were Lightning: a Rural Healthcare Documentary, a film for ITVS by Ramin Bahrani, Light from Light, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and director/producer on several holiday themed digital pieces with HGTV.

Varadila Nurdin is a specialist in documentary project development and film financing forum management. She was a Program Director for Docs by the Sea, a documentary incubator and pitching forum for Southeast Asian documentaries held annually in Indonesia.

Garry Williams has written screenplays for MGM, UA, Paramount, FoxTV, and the BBC. He has worked with directors including Stephen Gyllenhaal, as well as producer Sydney Pollack, and has a co-story credit on Larger than Life, , and a co-screenplay credit on SO B. IT.

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