Maybe you could call it a “soft opening”—the mood at yesterday evening’s Arkansas Filmmaker Reception certainly hinted at giddiness about this year’s Little Rock Film Festival. Held in the Deltic Timber Atrium of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, a great turnout of Arkansas-based filmmakers whose features, documentaries, and shorts were accepted in this year’s festival could barely conceal their excitement. When festival co-founder and programmer Craig Renaud introduced all of the Arkansas films, there was some trouble suppressing applause for the numerous local entries. He also noted that the sheer number of Arkansas entires was significant, considering there were a total of 1000 submissions for the 2012 fest, and to be able to include that many standout local films was a thrill.
After snacking on pizza and refreshments, filmmakers had the opportunity to take the mic and introduce themselves and their projects, but most of their responses smacked with the humble gratitude of acceptance speeches—almost everyone took time to thank the organization and express enthusiasm for even being a part of the event. Of course, a few of the filmmakers, like Gerardo Bruno and producers Tim Jackson and Mike Brabender, have been involved with the festival with various projects practically since its inception, but still acknowledge the importance of the LRFF’s very existence. But there were several up-and-coming Arkansas filmmakers, like UCA student Kim Risi, and young Sara Jones, whose enthusiasm about their projects gave the festival an air of exuberance. The reception was a great opportunity for established local filmmakers to mingle with these fresh young ones, and while this was just a social occasion (and no films were shown), it marked the very beginning of that convivial LRFF atmosphere. More to come!