Friday, June 14, 2024

Collateral Damage: Georgia Film Festival in Macon Can’t Get Celebrity Honorees Thanks to New Anti-Abortion Law, Savannah May Be Next


Georgia’s harsh new anti-abortion law — already causing film companies to re-evaluate shooting in the state — may cause collateral damage for film festivals.

August 16th is just around the corner and according to sources, The Macon Film Festival still has no celebrity guests or an honoree. “No one wants to go there now,” says an insider. Things have gotten so desperate that the Festival has told potential guests they will donate several thousand dollars to a pro-choice organization. But so far, no one’s biting.

Film festivals even in the most remote places depend on some celebrities coming to them. In the past, Macon has had Matthew Modine, the late Burt Reynolds, and many others. (Ironically, the weird world of small town film festivals was depicted in Reynolds’ final movie, Adam Rifkin’s “The Last Movie Star.”)

The Macon situation is a bad omen for the bigger Savannah Film Festival which comes later this fall. Last year, Savannah was brimming with stars including Hugh Jackman, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, Armie Hammer, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Would they have attended if the anti-abortion law was in effect last year? Not likely.

The Macon Festival is mostly for little seen independent films. Last year’s winner was the little seen “Bullitt County,” directed by David McCracken with a cast of largely unknown names (except, oddly, for Dorothy Lyman). But Savannah is all about stars, and getting big films. Their situation could be compounded by directors not wanting their movies shown at a Georgia festival.

Already several filmmakers have said they will not shoot in Georgia because of “the heartbeat” bill aka HB 481 including “The Wire” creator David Simon and his Blown Deadline Productions, Killer Films CEO Christine Vachon (“Carol,” “Vox Lux”), Mark Duplass and his Duplass Brothers Productions and “Triple Frontier” producer Neal Dodson on behalf of his CounterNarrative Films alongside J.C. Chandor.

Additionally, actress-activist Alyssa Milano wrote a letter to Georgia governor Brian Kemp vowing not to work in Georgia until the bill is reversed. It was signed by dozens of actors who could very well be in films chosen for a film festival in the Peach State.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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