*As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. If that’s the case, can the same village be used to create a film?
If you’re Len Gibson, the answer would be ‘yes’ as he prepares to kick off this year’s Peachtree Village International Film Festival (PVIFF). The sixth annual event will take place Aug. 18-21 at the W-Hotel and Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta, Ga.
According to Gibson, the idea for the PVIFF came after discussing the history of film at various film festivals and noticing how much movie makers enjoyed the events.
“A lot of times what happens is people go and they party. But they, the filmmakers, leave without the knowledge a lot of times,” the 32-year-old self-described “film educator” told EUR’s Lee Bailey. “It’s ok to go have a good time, but when it’s all said and done what did you learn?
“And that’s something that I really wanted to implement in an event,” continued Gibson. “I didn’t know if I wanted to start a film festival initially. I just thought maybe I would just do a conference or something. But after really sitting down and thinking about this thing, I decided that it was the right time to at least start a film festival … when you come to a film festival, you should come to learn and educate yourself about everything you possibly can as it relates to film as a filmmaker.”
Initially attached to the Sweet Auburn Spring Festival, the PVIFF was first known as the film component of the popular happening. After three years, Gibson’s creation outgrew what it could do with the Spring Festival as he decided to re-brand the event with the same crew, staff and team he used for the former Sweet Auburn International Film Festival as well as a new name.
The gamble paid off with the birth of the PVIFF, a labor of love for Gibson, who stands by the event’s commitment to aiding those with big screen dreams.
“Whether it’s here in Atlanta or around the world, we’re assisting filmmakers. We try to bring in the local business community and as many people that we possibly can to help make this thing happen,” he stated. “Rather, that’s taking a film from the script to the screen or just assisting a filmmaker in any way that we possibly can. We understand that it takes a village to make it work.”
In addition to providing guidance for aspiring filmmakers, the PVIFF’s claim to fame centers on celebrating the anniversaries of classic features. This year, the gathering will recognize the 20th anniversary of two ’90s films: “Jungle Fever” and “New Jack City.”
Gibson credits the Wesley Snipes-starring vehicles with providing an early influence on today’s cinematic efforts.
“We have ‘New Jack City’ … a lot of people love the film,” Gibson noted. “It was a film that looked at drugs in the inner city and how they (took on) the issue and the drug and law enforcement thing, coming together head to head and how that kind of opened up doors for a lot of other films of that sort during that era.
“And then ‘Jungle Fever,’ looking at the interracial relationship. That film tackles so many things,” he added. “So we look at those things and we really talk about what films came after those films and how those films played a very important part in our entertainment industry.”
Gibson is currently working to have cast members from “Jungle Fever” and “New Jack City” appear at the PVIFF as well as others associated with the films. Among those confirmed for the festival are “Fever” actresses Ruby Dee and Lonette McKee. As for the film’s director, Spike Lee, Gibson is waiting on word if the award-winning moviemaker’s schedule will allow him to make a personal appearance.
The PVIFF’s recognition of “New Jack City” and “Jungle Fever” falls in line with its niche of shining a light on movies that have made an impact as well as actors, actresses and filmmakers that organizers feel deserve praise, but “haven’t really been acknowledged.”
Past PVIFF honorees includes the casts of “Lincoln Heights” and “The Game” who both received the TV Spotlight award as well Quinton Aaron, who collected a Best Breakthrough Performance award for his work in “The Blind Side.”
During this year’s festival, the PVIFF will give an award to “Drop Dead Diva” star Brooke Elliott as well as the show itself.
Despite the challenges involved in putting the festival together, Gibson admits the effort is well worth it when it’s all said and done.
“It’s a lot of work to put on a festival and do two other large events inside of the festivals but we really enjoy it,” he said. “And then of course my love is the history of film and TV. So it goes back to the educational thing again. It’s really educating people about from whence we came and really letting people understand that we gotta pay homage to those who came before us.”
For more information about the PVIFF, visit www.pviff.com.