In a rambling statement released last week on Facebook, the South Alabama Film Festival (SoAL) revealed its transformation into Hurricane Film Festival thusly:
As Mobile’s only regional film festival showcasing all varieties of films by, for, or about the the South, we are now entering our seventh year and, like any precocious child, we’ve decided to change our name. Formerly known as the South Alabama Film Festival (SoAL for short), we’ve contemplated this change almost from our inception and find it’s finally time to dispel any lingering confusions by doing so (No, we’re not directly associated with the university. And we don’t know how to pronounce the acronym, either.)
So why would you name your festival after a natural disaster? How is that better? At best, you’re giving easy ammo to your critics. At worst, it seems to border on bad taste.
Hear us out.
We think any geographical region with a distinct culture of its own is defined as much by what makes it bad as what makes it good, insomuch as they are inextricably intertwined.
Los Angeles, that sunny mecca of moviemaking, wouldn’t be what it is without the unsettling immediacy of earthquakes. Likewise, the looming tropical cyclones that annually threaten to awash the Gulf Coast serve as our reminder of the impermanence of all things.
And just as the earth may shake beneath your feet at any moment in L.A., possibly correlating to the fast-moving rootlessness of that culture, what we do to cope with the inescapable pummeling may inform our culture in this other L.A. of Lower Alabama. Like soldiers awaiting the last barrages of an unwinnable war, the Gulf Coast revels in the gallows humor, names a cocktail and a party after its impending doom, pokes fun at the annual list of rotating ridiculous names, jocularly practices survivalist one-upmanship. In disaster, we bond.
So what all does this have to do with movies?
Well, we also believe in the therapeutic nature of Walker Percy’s hurricanes(http://nyti.ms/1KOBbho), where the noxious particles of malaise are blown away and we are given purpose. They may be unsettling, but they exhilarate us, sadden us, heighten our awareness of ourselves, each other and the world around us. As Walter Isaacson says in his piece linked here, “Everyone is focused, connected, engaged.” Much as we are in the best of cinema.
So join us. Let’s sit together in the dark, where we watch the flicker of the light, listen, and tell stories.
The festival will take place September 25-27 2015 at multiple downtown venues that have yet to be officially announced
HUFF is looking for local & regional submissions; Feature length, shorts, music videos… if you’ve made it, they welcome your submission.
It is FREE to submit, submissions accepted until Sunday, August 30th. All submissions (pref. youtube or vimeo link) can be sent to email@example.com