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WKU Film Festival May 4-8 features special guests, student work

The Western Kentucky Film Festival celebrates its 21st anniversary with a lineup of the best student work from the year and a host of special guests, including Hollywood director Lexi Alexander and nationally known independent filmmakers and Kentucky natives Thomas Southerland and Brandon Colvin. The festival runs May 4-8 in the Mass Media Technology Hall Auditorium with evening events beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

“This year’s festival has an especially diverse and exciting lineup of guest filmmakers, all brought in thanks to the initiative and hard work of WKU students,” said English and Film professor Dr. Ted Hovet. “The WKFF is a great chance to see the creative and professional work that WKU students do on campus and beyond.”

The festival kicks off on May 4 with a presentation by Lexi Alexander, director of Green Street Hooligans and the cult Marvel hit Punisher: War Zone. Beginning her career as a World Karate and Kickboxing Champion and stuntwoman, Alexander gained the notice of Hollywood when her short film “Johnny Flynton” earned an Oscar Nomination for Best Live Action Short in 2003. Though she continues to direct for film and television, Alexander has recently become internationally recognized as a proponent for gender equality in Hollywood as well as for her controversial stance on film piracy.

The festival will take a local turn beginning May 5 when Paducah native John William Holt will screen his locally produced feature film The Dooms Chapel Horror and discuss genre filmmaking during a post-film Q&A. Several members of the project’s crew will also be in attendance.

On May 6, the festival will welcome Lexington-based filmmaker Thomas Southerland for a screening of his feature film Proud Citizen and a keynote address. The film follows Bulgarian playwright Krasimira Stanimirova (poet Katerina Stoykova-Klemer) as she travels to Kentucky for the premiere of her dark, Communist-era autobiographical play after winning a writing contest. Shot in Lexington on a microbudget, Southerland’s film has screened and won numerous awards at over a dozen film festivals, including the Oscar-qualifying Florida Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, and Cleveland International Film Festival.

The festival kicks off its alumni night with a screening of 2010 graduate Brandon Colvin’s feature film Sabbatical on May 7. Following a philosophy professor who returns to his hometown to care for his sick mother, Sabbatical features independent film icons Kentucker Audley (The Sacrament) and Robert Longstreet (Pineapple Express, This is Martin Bonner) and has received rave notices for its experimental style from national publications such as IndieWire. Colvin will join Southerland for a series of workshops on independent filmmaking during the week.

Events will conclude May 8 with a showcase of WKU student films. A session of student academic work on film studies and a panel on the film major’s Sundance study away program will be held in the afternoon. The festival’s awards ceremony will begin at 9 p.m.

“The festival allows students to gain hands-on experiences in order to realize a common goal of creating excitement and awareness for independent and student films throughout the community,” said Amber Langston, a senior film major and member of the festival programming committee.

A block of short films by WKU students will precede each evening’s feature presentation. More information, including a complete schedule, can be found at www.westernkentuckyfilmfestival.com.

Contact: Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield, (270) 745-3242 or jerod.hollyfield@wku.edu

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