The major stars draw the numbers for the red carpet due to their experience and pedigree, but on Wednesday’s carpet for the 2019 SCAD Savannah Film Festival, it was the up-and-coming next generation that garnered the affection and praise.

Past recipients have certainly lived up to the award such as Winston Duke and Elsie Fisher last year, and the 2019 crew seemed no different as the panel included “Booksmart” star Beanie Feldstein, “When They See Us” Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome, “Aladdin” himself Mena Massoud and “Mickey and the Bear” lead Camila Morrone.

 

Feldstein, who just missed her “Booksmart” director Olivia Wilde by a day, said she was excited to be at the festival and talking with students and other young adults who seemed to really respond to the movie. “We made the film for everybody, but we hoped particularly this generation would love it because it’s for them, it’s about them and it’s inspired by them,” she said.

“We made it with so much respect for the young people of 2019. Showing (‘Booksmart’) at SCAD has been so perfect because it’s a place for people who love creating and love the arts so their reaction has been particularly meaningful.”

A lot of people probably caught Jerome’s presence in Savannah when he appeared on screen for his feature film debut in “Moonlight,” which played at the festival three years ago. Since then, the actor has nabbed an Emmy for his role in the critically-acclaimed Netflix series, “When They See Us,” which looked at the Central Park Five case.

Jerome said it was a pleasure to get the chance to share his experiences with the students. “I see a lot of kids that want to be exactly where I am, and if I can inspire in any way and get people who are only a few years younger than me to get the hope and chance then, yeah, you can do this thing,” he said.

Jerome didn’t make it to Savannah when “Moonlight” played at the festival, but was impressed with what the city had artistically. “It’s different, but I’m loving it,” he said. “I can definitely feel the culture and a lot of history here. It’s also a bit scary and ghostly.”

Before Massoud was taking to the streets of Agrabah in the live-action re-telling of Disney’s “Aladdin,” he said he was getting his bachelor’s degree much like the students of SCAD and it made his chance to speak with them all the more interesting.

“I went to a conservatory program for four years so I know a little bit about what they’re going through and feeling,” he said. “It was good to talk to them and get to know their headspace, and share the experience that I’ve had so far.”

Massoud was also impressed with Savannah’s art credentials. “I didn’t realize how artistic it was down here,” he said. “It’s so gorgeous.”

Morrone jumped to the film industry’s attention with roles in movies such as “Never Goin’ Back” and “Death Wise,” but has begun to garner major attention for her work in the independent drama, “Mickey and the Bear.” She was set to speak at a Q&A following a screening of the film on Wednesday, but said she was anticipating it.

“I’m so excited. Everyone seems so eager to learn and the passion is here,” she said.

Morrone already has had the full Savannah experience though as the actress said she already grabbed a meal at both The Grey and Miss Wilkes’ — including having to wait in line for the latter for over an hour.

“It was so good though — fried chicken in the morning,” she added.

The 2019 SCAD Savannah Film Festival continues on Thursday with screenings of “Honey Boy,” “Her Smell,” “Just Mercy” and an appearance by “The Handmaid’s Tale” star Elisabeth Moss.