Fort Smith film fest receives record number of entrants for 2024 event

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 343 views 

The Fort Smith International Film Festival has received a record 541 submissions for this year’s event, well above the high of 452 films for the 2023 event. Festival submissions come from at least 50 countries, tribes and indigenous nations.

The festival will be held this year from Aug. 22-24 at TempleLive in downtown Fort Smith. In the first three years, it has received 1,213 film submissions from more than 75 countries, nations, and tribes. According to festival organizers, Matthew Luhn, former Pixar story artist, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker and will discuss new technology and the future of storytelling. Tickets for the festival go on sale July 5.

The 2024 festival will also include the launch of the MidAmerica Film Market. Organizers say the goal of the MidAmerica Film Market is to provide an innovative platform for filmmakers, distributors, and industry executives.

“Our goal is to bring Hollywood to the middle of the United States and support filmmakers in finding the right audiences for their films,” Dr. Brandon Chase Goldsmith, executive director of the MidAmerica Film Market, said in a statement. “We are excited to create a space where independent films can thrive and receive the recognition they deserve.”

The Fort Smith-based MidAmerica Film Market spans a six-hour radius encompassing Dallas, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Jackson, Miss., and Shreveport.

“This central location ensures accessibility and convenience for participants from across the country,” noted a festival press release.

Of the 541 total film festival submissions, 327 came from the United States, with Goldsmith saying “with good confidence” that submissions came from directors and producers from “almost every state in the union.” Countries represented with international submissions include Iran, the U.K., the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Japan, Australia and China. The festival also received submissions from individuals representing the Cherokee, Choctaw and Quapaw nations.

“What I love seeing is that every year, we get more and more local submissions from the River Valley, and each year, the quality of filmmaking improves. Our creative economy is growing,” Goldsmith told Talk Business & Politics.

The festival is also working with Keep Arkansas Beautiful, the Arkansas Cinema Society (ACS), and the Ozark Media Arts Festival on a statewide high school 30-second commercial contest. The winners will be announced at the ACS Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls on June 28.

“Our goal is to build the Arkansas film community from our youth up, and I believe this contest led to us receiving more regional high school short film submissions this year,” Goldsmith said.