Lights, Camera, Action!

Filmmaking takes a front-row seat at the Victory International Film Festival

Indie film buffs should train their sights on the fourth annual Victory International Film Festival , which runs Sept. 7-9. Sixty-three films from all over the world will be shown at the festival, named for Downtown Evansville’s 102-year-old former movie house. Many genres will be shown, including short films and documentaries. A jury will bestow awards in 10 categories such as Best Short Film, Best Director, and Best Student Film, with winning filmmakers receiving cash prizes.

Proceeds benefit the Victory Theatre-centric nonprofit Friends of the Victory. Festival Director Patrick Higgs says the festival brings the film-producing industry to Evansville and Southern Indiana, calling attention to the area’s potential — more films shot in the area means more money flowing through the local economy. International films also represent the cultural diversity of the Tri-State.

“It doesn’t take a huge budget to make a great film. Advancements in technology have made it easier. I would love to see more production happening here,” Higgs says.

Opening night kicks off Thursday, Sept. 7, at Showplace Cinemas East, 1801 Morgan Center Drive, with a red carpet at 6 p.m. Screenings of 10 films start at 7 p.m., and an afterparty will follow at the cinema bar.

Fourteen short films will be screened Friday starting at 7 p.m. at the Victory Theatre, 600 Main St. Tickets are $11.50, with Arcademie, 22 N.W. Sixth St., hosting the afterparty.

Saturday’s lineup of films begins at 11 a.m. in three locations: The Old National Theatre at WNIN, Two Main St.; Innovation Pointe, 318 Main St.; and Encounter Church, 317 Main St. Filmgoers can participate in workshops and panel discussions with industry experts, Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and networking opportunities for both aspiring and seasoned professionals. Saturday’s afterparty is staged at Myriad Brewing Company, 101 S.E. First St., Ste. 1.

Photo provided by Victory International Film Festival. “Art for Science’s Sake: Stalking John James Audubon” was produced by University of Southern Indiana professors Leigh Anne Howard and Dave Black and has been nominated for Best Documentary and Best Hoosier-Made Film.

Patrons can view films from the U.S., Ukraine, Canada, Turkey, Spain, Poland, Russia, Chile, Germany, Kenya, France, Palestine, and Venezuela. Films in the lineup include several Hoosier-made or -centric reels, including “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Fragile Strength,” “Life After,” “Prom Night,” “Teacher of Patience,” and “Liminal: Indiana in the Anthropocene.”

One film with River City roots is “Amani, A First Time,” a film produced by Angela Noi that depicts how an applied a homegrown model in East Africa to help patients and health care workers at the Ekerenyo Health Centre in Kenya deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another regional film, “Art for Science’s Sake: Stalking John James Audubon,” was produced by University of Southern Indiana professors Leigh Anne Howard and Dave Black and has been nominated for Best Documentary and Best Hoosier-Made Film.

Higgs hopes the festival will inspire more film producers to make movies in Indiana, saying it has been a long time since a major film actually was filmed here. For example, “The Judge,” featuring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duval, was set in the fictional Southern Indiana town of Carlinville and released in 2014 but filmed in Massachusetts. A new state-wide Film and Media Production Tax credit established in the 2022 legislative session gives Higgs hope for the future of filmmaking in this pocket of the state.

“There are a lot of film-related things here, but not anything filmed here in a while. Southern Indiana has beautiful areas and towns that need to be showcased,” he says.

Daily admission costs $10 per ticket, or guests can purchase a three-day pass for $25. A detailed itinerary of film screenings is available online.

Maggie Valenti contributed to this article.

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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