Do Savannnah

SCAD Savannah Film Festival to celebrate 20th anniversary with screenings, panels, stars

  • Opening night of the 2015 SCAD Savannah Film Festival. (Photo by Justin Chan/Courtesy of SCAD)
  • Aaron Sorkin
  • Andrea Riseborough
  • Holly Hunter
  • John Boyega
  • Kyra Sedgwick
  • Mariska Hargitay
  • Patrick Stewart
  • Richard Gere
  • Robert Pattinson
  • Salma Hayek Pinault
  • Willow Shields
  • Zoey Deutch

SCAD Savannah Film Festival to celebrate 20th anniversary with screenings, panels, stars

25 Oct 2017

If you’re walking down Broughton Street and think you see Sir Patrick Stewart, don’t assume you’ve been out in the sun too long.

Stewart is just one of the many celebrities who are expected to attend this year’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival. The fact that the festival is celebrating 20 years of success is just icing on the cake.

Put on by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the festival was founded by SCAD President Paula Wallace.

“SCAD reigns as the finest, most comprehensive, most specialized university where aspiring filmmakers prepare for the workforce as technical wizards, screenwriters, production designers, directors, actors, visual effects creators and all manner of in-demand professions related to entertainment arts,” she says.

The world-renowned festival will run from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4. The 2017 lineup includes Gala Screenings, Docs to Watch, Signature Screenings, several Global Shorts forums, panels, workshops, and of course, competition films including documentaries, animation and student films.

The festival will open Oct. 28 with the Opening Night Gala Screening of “Molly’s Game,” written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica Chastain.

The Centerpiece Gala Screening will be “Lady Bird,” written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan.

Thirteen of the entertainment industry’s top performers will be honored by SCAD this year: Lifetime Achievement Award, Richard Gere; Legends of Cinema Award, Sir Patrick Stewart; Vanguard Award, John Boyega; Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award, Salma Hayek Pinault; Icon Award, Holly Hunter; Maverick Award, Robert Pattinson; Outstanding Achievement in Directing Award, Aaron Sorkin; Rising Star Awards, Zoey Deutch and Willow Shields; Humanitarian Award, Mariska Hargitay; Virtuoso Award, Ashley Judd; Spotlight Award, Kyra Sedgwick; and the Outstanding Supporting Actress Award for “Battle of the Sexes,” Andrea Riseborough.

Due to the success of Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman,” the festival will present a series of panels dedicated to the cinematic achievements of women in the film industry. Three panels of directors, producers and up-and-coming talent will highlight and discuss their experiences in the industry.

Another panel series, Below the Line, welcomes guests from casting, costume design, music supervision, production design and post production to speak about their craft.

The Signature Series features premiere and special screenings, from narrative to documentary films, followed by a question-and-answer session with the film’s actors, directors, producers or writers.

And the Global Shorts Forum is a curated collection of 45 international shorts that focus on world issues, such as refugee, climate and hunger crises.

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival has screened many films that have gone on to be major award winners. Last year, the festival screened five films that went on to receive Academy Awards, including the Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” This year, 17 films have been selected as Gala Screenings.

This year, the festival received a record-breaking 4,000 submissions for the competition film series. Students from every academic discipline connect with leaders from the entertainment industry through master classes, coffee talks, lectures, workshops and panel discussions.

“SCAD welcomes guests to share their expertise and engage with students throughout the year, and so those relationships grow from those student-led opportunities,” says Christina Routhier, the festival’s artistic director. “In addition to celebrating Oscar contender films, we are also carefully considering all the aspects of film and its relationship to our academic programming; everything from costume design, production design, sound design, animation, graphic design and so much more to be topics of panel discussions, master classes and special screenings followed by Q&A discussions.”

The festival is the largest university-run film festival in the nation.

“It has a direct impact on our student success,” says Andra Reeve-Raab, dean of the School of Entertainment Arts. “There is no other place I can think of that connects the biggest lights in the industry with students. The people who come through are so generous with their time and knowledge.”

Because this is the festival’s 20th anniversary, it is being celebrated in many ways.

“It’s our largest festival to date — we have more honorees than ever before, in addition to Gala Screenings, Docs to Watch, Signature Series and a Global Shorts Forum,” Routhier says. “This year’s festival will screen a total of 131 films, including 33 narrative films, 16 documentary films and 82 shorts.”


Go to, 912-525-5050, or Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St. Find a full schedule at