Ozark Foothills FilmFest Awards Three $30,000 Grants to Arkansas Filmmakers

Ozark Foothills FilmFest has awarded $30,000 production grants to three Arkansas film projects. The awards are part of the organization’s Indie Film Initiative, funded by Governor Beebe’s Arkansas Cultural Regional Arts Grant program. The three grant recipients were selected after a rigorous application process that involved twenty-six applicants. The selection committee consisted of Bob Pest, president and co-founder of Ozark Foothills FilmFest; Christopher Crane, Arkansas Film Commissioner; and producer/director Tim Jackson of Category One Entertainment. The recipients will use the funds to make or complete feature-length films shot primarily in the state using a 75% Arkansan cast and crew. The grant recipients are Brent and Craig Renaud, Juli Jackson, and Taylor Feltner.

The Renaud brothers have been producing award-winning documentary films and television content for over fifteen years for HBO, Discovery, PBS, NBC, and ESPN. Their 10 part series for the Discovery Channel, Off to War, won an Overseas Press Club Award and an International Documentary Association (IDA) award for Best TV Series. Their work has also been screened at major film festivals such as Tribeca, Sundance, Austin, and the American Film Institute’s Silver Docs. They are also the co-founders of the Little Rock Film Festival. The Renaud’s project is a documentary titled My Brother’s Heart. To quote the filmmakers, “The cinema verité documentary tells one family’s epic story from the viewpoint of an extraordinary 10-year-old boy named Philip Rusakov, whose twin brother Anthony needed a heart transplant.” Audiences will get an inside view of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, including the operating rooms where Anthony’s many major heart surgeries took place.

Juli Jackson is a Paragould native who graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in Film and Video. She has worked as the Director of Photography on a number of independent feature films, including Beat the Air and God’s Country, Off Route 9. After a three year stint in Los Angeles, contributing camerawork and lighting design on a number of projects, she returned home to Arkansas to pursue her creative work. She directed Sugar (sweet) Tooth (ache), a 35mm animation about a girl who went to surprising lengths to treat a toothache, that premiered at the 2010 Ozark Foothills FilmFest.

Jackson describes her project, titled 45 RPM, as “a dark comedy that extends the world of classic American road movie to multiple mediums while exploring rich Southern history. The story follows Charlie, a struggling New York artist who seeks a connection between her work and her deceased father’s music. She teams up with Louie, an obsessive record collector from Memphis, and begins a search for a rare 45 recording from the 1960’s Arkansas garage rock scene that takes them on a journey across the seldom explored landscape of the new Old South.” Jackson will be filming in Paragould, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Mountain Home, and Memphis.

Taylor Feltner is a Russellville native who studied filmmaking at the Florida State University College of Filmmaking. He began his film career in Los Angeles working for the Allentown Productions documentary film company. His first documentary as a producer, Just Like Us, documented a comedy tour of the Middle East and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Just Like Us recently began its national theatrical run.
 
Feltner describes his grant-funded film, Man Shot Dead, as “an exploration into the often tragic, mysterious, and buried family stories that ripple through generations.” In this case the family mystery is the murder of his grandfather, who was shot in the chest at point blank range and killed in Texas in 1966 by the father of a 17-year-old girl he had followed home in his car. The “Who, What, and Why” of the incident remains a mystery which the documentary will explore in the attempt to gain closure through knowing the truth.

The three grant recipient films are in various stages of production. They will be completed within the next 12 to 18 months and will be screened in Batesville at the Ozark Foothills FilmFest and at numerous venues in Arkansas. For more information contact Bob Pest at 870-251-1189 or [email protected]. Information about Juli Jackson and 45 RPM is available at www.45rpmmovie.com; information about the Renaud Brothers is available at www.renaudbrothers.com.