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October 29, 2017

“I am a Georgia girl,” Holly Hunter proclaimed to a packed audience at the Trustees Theatre during the opening night of the 2017 SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

The festival, in its 20th year, roared to life on Saturday with seven feature film screenings, two documentary screenings, a star-studded red carpet and an award ceremony honoring Hunter. The Conyers, Georgia native and Oscar-winning actress received SCAD’s Icon Award, celebrating her three-decades of film and television work. Two of Saturday’s screenings featured Hunter,“Strange Weather,” and “The Big Sick.”

“This is such an amazing, flabbergasting honor,” Hunter said in her acceptance speech. “I have to say, I want to thank Savannah Film Festival and the great Paula Wallace for her beyond the pale, over the edge generosity to me and my family, who’s all here tonight.

“I have to say Paula Wallace is a visionary and has done an extraordinary job — she’s heralded an evolution here in Savannah. I think that what sets this film festival apart from any other festival that I’ve been too is this affiliation with SCAD and the students.

“I got to partake in an incredible exchange today with students,” Hunter continued. “I think that’s the greatness of any film festival is the exchange. An exchange that actors actors get to have with each other and a director and movies get to have with a community. I think that this affiliation with this college of art design is inspired.”

Hunter was presented with the award prior to the gala screening of Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, “Molly’s Game.” The Academy Award winning writer was also on hand to receive the Outstanding Achievement in Directing Award.

Last year, the state of Georgia outpaced California as the top location for feature films. In 2016, 17 feature films were produced in the state. The state reported a $9.5 billion economic impact in the 2017 fiscal year. Over 320 films and television productions were shot in Georgia.

“I think that the governor of Georgia has been really smart to keep it going,” Hunter said of her home state. “The infrastructure in Atlanta is really solid now. I think it’s great for the state.”

Concurrently, the SCAD Savannah Film Festival has grown exponentially over their two decades of life. This year, they stated that they are now the largest university run film festival. In the programming notes, SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace stated that nearly 3,000 SCAD alumni contribute to the entertainment arts industry.

“Sometimes my realty as an actor has met my dreams and sometimes you just pick yourself up and slog on,” Hunter said. “I think it’s great for people to hear that from working actors and I get the hit of their desire and their dream. It was beautiful today to get to be here and share that with the students.”


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