FORT SMITH -- Organizers and promoters of the city's first film festival -- and the organization that supports it -- believe their efforts could have a long-term positive impact on the city.
Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Timothy Jacobsen said the Fort Smith International Film Festival is "the perfect opportunity" to cultivate the city's image as it relates to arts and entertainment. Held Aug. 13-14 in multiple locations throughout downtown, the film festival in its inaugural year received 396 submissions from filmmakers in 43 countries.
Festival founder Brandon Goldsmith said the longer-term effort is the River Valley Film Society, which was founded to cultivate a film presence in the area and connect filmmakers with resources. Through the Film Society, Goldsmith hopes to promote content creation as a viable career path in Fort Smith.
Jacobsen and Goldsmith gave their remarks at a panel discussion on the film festival Thursday night at Five Star Productions.
Goldsmith said "the smallest business to the biggest corporation" need content creation today. He said filmmakers are able to meet this role, which is something the film society can promote to young people.
To keep young talent in the city, Goldsmith said he hopes to work with the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce to create a commercial contest for high school and college students.
This would connect the students with local businesses, which could lead to employment, he said.
"If we can make really good content creators, that will grow the film industry here locally," Goldsmith said.
He added that a yearlong film presence in the city will sustain the film festival. In its inaugural year, the film festival is set to show 23 hours of full-length feature films, music videos and shorts from around the globe.
The film festival is something that can make the city more attractive, said panelist Diana Matamoros, a film festival volunteer and University of Arkansas-Fort Smith student.
"If I moved somewhere else, I'd probably choose someplace because it attracted me. If we worked on stuff that would ultimately attract people here too, it would make people want to stay here," Matamoros said.
"There's so much here already that needs to be brought together and promoted in the right way to the right people," Jacobsen said.
Fort Smith International Film Festival
WHEN: Aug. 13-14
WHERE: The Majestic, 906 Cocktail and Cigar Lounge, the Bakery District, 5 Star Productions