After 23 days, 184 screenings (including 15 encores of our most popular films), and eight different venues across the metro area, the 2016 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has officially come to a close. AJFF continues its long tradition, delivering the best experience for festival goers as the world's largest Jewish film festival.
Just over 36,000 audience members passed into AJFF theaters at the 2016 festival, enjoying more films and more screenings than ever before offered. The festival has embarked on a multi-year plan to increase access to the festival for audiences of all ages, from every background, and from all across the Atlanta area and beyond. This included the addition in 2016 of a new theatrical venue, SCADshow in Midtown Atlanta. AJFF also announced expanded year-round programming during the 2016 festival, and will continue to upgrade and expand its programming footprint for future festivals.
World Class Experience, High Audience Approval
"Our first priority continues to be a world class audience experience," says festival executive director, Kenny Blank. "We continue to be stunned and honored just how enthusiastic our audience is, but the size of the audience is secondary to the quality of their time at the festival. That is our challenge going forward, to make each and every one of those audience members feel like AJFF was the best time they've ever had in a movie theater."
While initial feedback has indicated high approval with the audience experience around seating, ticket sales, and customer care, one area that has stood out is the quality of the films themselves. Many festival goers have gone out of their way to send emails and survey responses indicating one of the best lineups in years.
"We continue to grow the lineup of films we show each year," says Blank," but we obviously want to ensure the quality remains as high as it always has been. I've been really pleased to hear from our audience that we achieved that mark, especially in a year when we had more short films than ever before, and our largest number of screenings in our history."
Upcoming Programming After the Festival
With the regular festival complete, upcoming programming includes special encore presentations of the Audience Award winning films on Sunday, March 6, at Georgia Theatre Company's Merchants Walk location. The powerful story of restauranteur Ina Pinkney, Breakfast at Ina's, won for Best Documentary while Naked Among Wolves, the story of concentration camp inmates who risk their lives to hide a small child, nabbed the Best Narrative award. Winning the award for Best Short film is To Step Forward Myself, about a 25-year-old American student who made aliyah after college, is remembered for giving his life in defense of Israel.
Following that, in May, AJFF will host its inaugural Icon Award presentation to screenwriter, director, and producer Lawrence Kasdan. Co-presented with ArtsATL, AJFF will feature a special conversation between Kasdan and long-time arts critic Catherine Fox, co-founder of ArtsATL, on May 22 at the Woodruff Arts Center's Rich Auditorium. The event will be a first of its kind, as AJFF works to honor notable Jewish filmmakers. The award will be given annually, honoring exemplary artists who have upheld the tradition of artistic excellence in film, informed directly or indirectly by a Jewish subject or sensibility, and who inspire preeminence in filmmaking worldwide.
Dates and venues for the 2017 festival will be announced later in the year. Audiences can look forward to another incredible lineup of the world's best foreign and independent films, continuing what is now a 16-year tradition of cinematic excellence.