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Skyline Festival coming to UNG in May

SIFF 2017
SIFF gives students the opportunity gain experience behind the scenes of a film festival, and helps them make connections in Georgia's film industry.

The Skyline International Film Festival (SIFF), sponsored by the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Department of Communication, Media and Journalism, returns to the Gainesville Campus May 19-21 and features films from UNG students and filmmakers from across the world.

SIFF is a student-run festival, and aims to educate, enhance and support filmmakers and students. For students in UNG's film program, the event also provides important hands-on experience in hosting a festival. Those attending will get a behind-the-scenes perspective of film production and the opportunity to meet up-and-coming filmmakers through media panels and screenings.

"This part of the festival planning is a great opportunity for students, because it allows them to participate in the festival selection process from the other side," said Dr. Jeff Marker, head of the Department of Communication, Media and Journalism at UNG. "When they submit films to other festivals, they will have a sense of the quality of their competition and what selection committees are looking for."

Of the more than 3,000 films submitted, 53 were selected for viewing during the three-day festival. All the films were viewed and rated by students, faculty and working filmmakers for selection.

The festival kicks off May 19 with a premier screening of "American Zealot," a film directed by James Mackenzie, who will also participate in a question-and-answer session.

"After Fire," directed and produced by Britanny Huckabee, will be featured on May 20. Huckabee has more than 15 years of experience producing and directing documentaries that have been broadcast nationally, including an Emmy-nominated film.

The festival will close on May 21st with premier screenings of UNG student films and the premier of "DeadThirsty," a film by Jason Winn and Jonathan Hickman, as well as a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers.

In fall 2015, UNG launched a bachelor's degree in film and digital media designed to prepare students to work in the film and television industry. That December, the first six degrees of this major were awarded and have already opened doors and developed new contacts in Georgia's exploding film industry.

"After volunteering for the festival last year, I knew that I wanted to take more of a leadership role in the planning process for 2017. We have been in planning mode for this year's event since October," said Melissa Simpson, a senior at UNG and an executive director for SIFF. "As a film and digital media major, I knew this event would allow me the opportunity to make great connections in the Georgia film community, as well as in the Georgia film festival scene. Working on this event has given me valuable experience in planning such a large-scale event."

There are also five panels scheduled, including a post-production workshop led by Drew Sawyer and his team at Moonshine Post Production, film festival panels with representatives from six of the major film festivals in Georgia, and a crowdfunding panel with Christina Raia from Seed & Spark.

SIFF will be held at the Ed Cabell Theatre and is open to the public. Weekend passes are $45 for the public and $30 for students, and day passes are $25 for the public and $18 for students. There also passes available only for workshops (for the whole weekend), which are $15 for the public and $10 for students. Passes can be purchased on the festival's EventBrite page. The page will also be updated soon with a complete calendar of events, including a list of films, panels, workshops, and times and locations for each.

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