Last night: LRFF Gala | Rock Candy

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Last night: LRFF Gala

Posted By on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 11:15 AM

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Rachel Jules and Harry Thomason

The Little Rock Film Festival's Gala was typically Arkansas, if only because a whole slew of folks ignored the words "semi-formal" on the promotional material. 

Wearing everything from carpenter shorts to ball gowns, roughly 200 film buffs, Arkansas-connected industry insiders, and local celebrities joined television and film producer Harry Thomason and Governor Mike Beebe at the Clinton Center's Grand Ballroom Friday night for the festival's otherwise swanky fundraising event.  

Optimism for the future of Arkansas's film industry seems to be an underlying festival theme.   Judge Reinhold touched on the topic at his introduction to " Fast Times at Ridgemont High" Tuesday night. He will host a panel titled "Keep it Natural! Building a Film Industry in Arkansas," Sunday at noon at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Governor Beebe continued to paint the same rosy picture for the festival's possibilities.  He praised the efforts of the LRFF organizers, who he said represented a possible economic engine for the state.

"This festival is a lot bigger than Sundance was after ten years, so you can imagine where this could go," Beebe said.

That's quite an endorsement for a festival that's only in its second year.

Harry Thomason was downright poetic about Arkansas's importance to his own career and the future of filmmaking in the state facilitated by the LRFF.   The festival, he said, gave him a chance to marry the "dazzling light of film" to his passion for the state, which "makes this the best homecoming ever."  

Thomason credits the festival's success with management choices made by festival organizers, who have focused their resources on getting the filmmakers involved in the process.  

"If this is not one of the major film festivals in the U.S. in ten years, I'll be surprised," he said.

Thomason also praised the festival's location, including the Clinton Library and the River Market district.
"Nobody has a better venue than Little Rock, Arkansas," he said.

Shelle Barton Stormoe

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