We're incredibly proud that AJFF attracts some of the most talented, passionate people. We rely heavily on this village to make AJFF what it is, and we're going to introduce you to some of the people who make up that village. From our staff, to our volunteers, or even to members of our audience, there's a huge group of people that make AJFF a world-class cultural event. This month, we're putting the spotlight on the Programming Director at TERMINUS Conference + Festival and current AJFF Community Engagement Co-Chair, Charles Judson.
A Little Bit About Charles
I’m an Atlanta native, born (Northside baby!) and raised. I’ve been actively working in Atlanta film and the arts since the mid-90s when I joined a writers group in the back of a comic shop. That led to helping launch a comic book company (that’s still creating great work), which led to being a film critic writing for CinemATL.com, which landed me at the Atlanta Film Festival for seven years.
How did you come to be involved with AJFF?
While we covered AJFF at CinemATL, it was with the Atlanta Film Festival that I really began becoming more involved. Our core missions and focus on community building were closely aligned.
What is the most interesting challenge, in improving AJFF, that you get to help with?
Deepening the engagement with audiences and extending that experience year round into a wider and greater impact on Atlanta is a challenge I relish. Roger Ebert said, “Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.” Good movies alone don’t make us better people. It’s the conversations and self-reflection that happen before, during and after we see a great film that pushes us to be better people. Building on AJFF’s legacy and track record of stellar film programming, we can create space for audiences and the community to do that. Be it through dialogue, or inspiring the creation of new art.
What is your fondest memory from being involved with AJFF?
Seeing the results of the Art Party in 2015. There was such a range of diversity and new faces that came to the party. It was exciting to see four different groups come together AJFF’s, Atlanta’s art community, Atlanta’s film community, and a general audience just just looking for something new and different.
How has your experience outside of AJFF played into your work with the festival?
You might see there’s a running theme through my answers--and I might be getting a little redundant :-). But, continuously asking how do we grow Atlanta’s film community and diversify the stories coming out of Atlanta, feeds directly into my work with AJFF.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with AJFF?
As a native Atlantan, building community, and expanding the definition of community through film is what drives me. Just as there are a thousand ways to define and express what it means to be Jewish, there are a thousand ways to define and express what it means to be an Atlantan and Southern. When you help others share who they are, what they want to be, and what matters to them, it give you the space to do the same. We all benefit.
How do you describe AJFF to those who've never experienced it?
AJFF is one of Atlanta’s the crown jewel events. The films are among the best you’ll see in the country, the energy of the audiences is infectious (Opening Night alone!) and the content of the films are timely.
Thank you to Charles for his time this month. AJFF greatly values his commitment and efforts that continue to inspire growth and change within the organization. Stay tuned to see who we profile next.