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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles correspondant covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Party Like It’s 919, But Seriously This IS Film Fest 919 in Chapel Hill, NC

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Once upon a time in Palm Beach and Santa Barbara, there were no smash-hit film festivals and then along came some powerhouse women and made it happen…


You have to imagine John Forsythe saying this because Film Fest 919 happening this week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is literally run by the Charlie’s Angels kick-ass trio of Carol Marshall, Randi Emerman, with Claudia Puig as programmer. If you’ve spent more than 20 minutes inside Hollywood, you’d know Marshall as the personal publicist to - in shorthand - just about everybody who was ever famous in the modern era from Frank Sinatra to Meryl Streep. Carol has been seated with 28 Oscars lined up on a table at the Governor’s Ball for example. (Editor's Note: She ran SBIFF in its heyday.)


Emerman is the power behind the throne, say if a throne is a movie seat, including as recent VP of Programming for SilverSpot Cinema; plus, she’s former CEO of Palm Beach International Film Festival that reached a crescendo during her tenure. Claudia Puig’s byline as a journalist is similar to an LA landmark as President of Los Angeles Film Critics Association, but she also served as lead film critic at USA Today for a decade and a half, with her own show. USA Today’s The Screening Room; not to mention she’s been a guest on “NPR’s Morning Edition, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSBNC.” The quotes are from Puig’s own bio, and when you crib a great line from a journalist, one must attribute the source.

Okay, so that’s them, the trio this year in Chapel Hill. But last year was their inaugural event, during which they pegged ROMA and GREEN BOOK, among many other films they sneaked to the public as first-look's.


And here’s what makes Film Fest 919 a specific must-attend event for your future reference, they know what they are doing as far as what audiences (general public) will see in advance of Award Season. Yesterday they tipped Palme d’Or winner at Cannes PARASITE, from director Bong Joon-Ho and the South Korean Oscar entry, to a packed house; along with Isabelle Huppert and Marisa Tomei in an absolute gem from Ira Sachs, FRANKIE, capped off by a ROCKETMAN screening with Ray Williams headlining a rollicking afterparty.

Ray Williams is the guy who discovered Elton John before he had that moniker, for one thing. This is the insider edge at 919, and you can’t buy this kind of felt knowledge about what’s in the zeitgeist in Hollywood, you just have to know (read: from years of experience in the industry).

So Film Fest 919, with its blow-out 70 mm trailer set to some kick-ass percussion, will showcase Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Eddie Murphy, Anthony Hopkins, Matt Damon, and Christian Bale during the run thru 10/13 with films front and center in Award Season.

There’s FORD V FERRARI, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, THE TWO POPES, CYRANO, MY LOVE, and HONEY BOY, the drilled down true-ish story of Shia La Beouf’s life - as told by Shia himself - that will curl the wallpaper, if not blaze through the Academy this year.



Thus begins dailies from Chapel Hill, today is HONEY BOY; tomorrow is Special Presentation to three-time Academy Award Nominee Anthony McCarten, writer of DARKEST HOUR (Gary Oldman as Churchill), for Screenwriting, and WETA Digital’s Joe Letteri will roll in hot on Sunday Oct. 13 for a closing VIP Mimosa Mixer. Closing night will be JOJO RABBIT, Adam Driver, and another bash from folks at Film Fest 919.

Stay tuned here on FilmFestivals for the film highlights and themed parties, like Noah Baumbach’s MARRIAGE movie afterparty that headlined 15-member jazz/pop band Liquid Pleasure at City Kitchen. This splash-out event was hosted by Sally Brown, whose husband Mack Brown is Tarheels Head Football Coach, yes, that caliber of party-partying, lol.


HONEY BOY is next on deck here in Chapel Hill, NC, from the SilverSpot Cinema where Hendrick Southpoint Auto Mall sponsors with Coca-Cola, Carrboro Coffee Roasters, and many more. Yes, there is awesome swag, while a welcome letter from the State of North Carolina, Office of the Governor, includes a handwritten note from Gov. Roy Cooper: “So glad you’re here!”

Live from The Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill, you’ll experience it all here at FilmFestivals, so until tomorrow, stay tuned, as Carol Marshall and Randi Emerman say?

“Thank you for watching FilmFestivals TV.”

Watch for that footage here…



Now back to Film Fest 919, Day Three, to “Catch the Films Before They Catch On,” presented by Hendrick Automotive Group, with some awesome swag!











(Thanks to Film Fest 919 Staff & volunteers too!)

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