New Film Fest 919 will combine buzzy movies with culinary offerings

Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Kimberly Prince in “The Florida Project.” The film will have a special screening at the launch party for the new Film Fest 919, which will debut in fall 2018.
Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Kimberly Prince in “The Florida Project.” The film will have a special screening at the launch party for the new Film Fest 919, which will debut in fall 2018. Grace Hill Media

Good news, movie nerds. There’s a new film festival coming to town.

The inaugural Film Fest 919, scheduled to debut in Chapel Hill in October 2018, will feature a lineup of new feature-length movies from the festival circuit as well as a range of culinary offerings from local restaurants and chefs from the Triangle.

The festival will be held at Silverspot Cinema, the popular dinner-and-a-movie destination in University Place mall in Chapel Hill.

It is scheduled for next fall – the dates haven’t been finalized – and many details are fuzzy as the project is still in the planning stages. But the festival will likely run from five to seven days, said co-founder Carol Marshall. Other venues could be added or created, she said.

Marshall and co-founder Randi Emerman have some experience in assembling film fests, having worked together at the Palm Beach International Film Festival in Florida for the past 15 years.

“Several years ago, we were talking about possibly starting something new and began looking for the best market that would embrace a cultural program of this type,” Marshall said. “Chapel Hill was an area that really stood out.”

The inaugural Film Fest 919 will focus on full-length narrative films – as opposed to the short films or documentaries at other Triangle film festivals – with programming curated by veteran film industry journalist and former USA Today critic Claudia Puig.

“Our plan is to show a wide and diverse array of narrative films from around the world,” Puig said. “We will be showcasing films that have been hits at important film fests like Cannes, and we’ll also have outdoor screenings, which is something few festivals offer.”

Film Fest 919 will also work with local universities to potentially showcase student films and works from other area filmmakers.

To introduce the new film festival, Silverspot is hosting a launch party at 6 p.m. Oct. 25. The event, which also feature dishes from local culinary artists, includes a special screening of the critically acclaimed drama “The Florida Project,” with writer/producer Chris Bergoch in attendance for a post-screening presentation and Q&A session.

Puig will be there to host the Q&A session on “The Florida Project,” which stars Willem Dafoe and has been earning rave reviews in limited release.

Bergoch, co-writer and producer of “The Florida Project,” said that film festivals like Film Fest 919 are a critical part of the creative ecosystem, especially for independent filmmakers who work outside mainstream distribution channels.

“It’s a place where future collaborations can be born,” Bergoch said. “A place to get feedback from audiences and judges. But most importantly, it’s a place that we set our ideas free into the world and let that very first audience experience our story – no trailer, no poster.

“It’s the most pure form of movie-going and the reason why, to me, film festivals are magic.”


What: Film Fest 919 launch party and screening of “The Florida Project”

When: 6 p.m. Oct. 25

Where: Silverspot Cinema, University Place, 201 Estes Drive, Chapel Hill

Tickets: $25 general admission; $35 for Premium and $50 for the VIP package through filmfest919.com.

Info: filmfest919.com