Area filmmakers get their due at fifth annual film festival
Augusta’s own Poison Peach Festival returns to the Imperial Theatre this weekend with an all-new selection of feature and short films. In addition to film screenings, this year the festival has added a special appearance by country music star Cody McCarver, who plays a civil war veteran in Christopher Forbes western, “Vengeance Without Mercy,” which will premiere on First Friday.
So, for those who are wondering, “What is a Poison Peach?” Christopher Forbes, the festival organizer explains.
“Years ago, we have a group called Southeastern Filmmakers, it has probably two or three hundred members spread out over a couple of cities,” he says. “We’ve been around doing that since ’05 and we put all these names in a hat in 2005/2006 before the first Poison Peach and that’s the name that stuck.”
Initially the festival began as a venue to showcase horror, science fiction and fantasy.
“But now,” says Forbes, “it’s not just that. Like, Joshua Seymour’s film is more like Tarantino type action and Karlton Clay has a 28-minute drama about 20-somethings and their relationships. It’s not just horror and science fiction.”
The festival is now in its sixth year and will continue into the future. Six years? But isn’t this Poison Peach Five? Forbes explains that as well.
“This is Poison Peach Five,” he says. “We’ve been doing it for actually six years. We took a break. We had it the first two years at Le Chat [Noir], and then we took a break for a year because we didn’t have a lot of films, and then the last couple of years have been at The Imperial, which is a good place for it — Le Chat was just too small.”
The festival was organized to showcase area talent and to let the community know that Augusta does indeed have a network of serious filmmakers.
“It’s not a competitive festival,” says Forbes. “At least it isn’t now. Maybe in the future once we get to the point where we have an avalanche of submissions, but what we’re trying to do here is really foster filmmaking and showing what people are doing here. Most people in this area still have no idea that there’s any kind of decent film community in this town. People are doing a lot of work. There are short films, and videos and all kinds of work going on.”
Local filmmaker Stephen Gilliam has been working on his project, “Confederate Zombie,” for about two years now. The film features 150-plus actors and crew people from the Augusta area and beyond, and as the name intimates, it is about zombies during the civil war and zombie survival among the living. Though the film is not 100 percent complete at this point, Gilliam is taking the opportunity to screen it at Poison Peach as sort of a test market.
“What I’m looking to do is get a crowd reaction,” says Gilliam. “See what they think, what do they like, so afterwards I can go and make a finished clean product from their feedback.”
Other films being screened include “Blood River” by Minnesota horror writer David Greske and “Miss Strangelove,” a feature-length musical featuring vampires. Additionally, there will be short films each night from many area filmmakers, including Joshua Seymour, Dan Beck, Eric Poe, Karlton Clay and Yannik the Filmmaker.
Family friendly nights are Friday and Sunday. Saturday night’s films are best suited to the over 18 crowd. Poison Peach Film Festival
January 4-6 | 7 p.m. nightly
$10, single-day admission; $20, weekend pass
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