Five Years Of Local Film Festivities

The Chattanooga Film Festival returns, bigger and better than ever

For the last five years, the Chattanooga Film Festival has been the best event the city has to offer. While the big events Riverbend continues to roll out of uninspired acts from twenty years ago occasionally please the masses, the CFF has consistently brought films that can’t be found elsewhere, films that challenge and inspire, films that deserve to be seen. 

Better still, the festival often brings the filmmakers, which allows attendees to spend time interacting with artists on a personal level in a way that can’t be found elsewhere in the region. 

From an appreciation perspective, from an educational perspective, from an entertainment perspective, the events of the Chattanooga Film Festival cannot be matched. 

The fifth anniversary brings a few changes (moving the location of the festival to the Chattanooga Theater Center being the biggest) but what stays the same is the quality of the curation, the presence of working filmmakers, and, of course, Joe Bob Briggs. 

Whether you’re a VIP Badge holder or simply want to see a few movies, the CFF makes the first week of April the best time of the year.

Every year, I select my route through the festival, giving advice on what to see and how to see it. Every year, I abandon my plan after seeing the first film and wander through the rest of the festival blindly. 

There’s no wrong way to enjoy the CFF, and even the best of plans fall to the wayside as the weekend goes on. 

There’s no way to schedule the events so that you can see everything—so there’s no reason to try. Some events I suggest will likely happen at the same time as other events—you’ll have to weigh which ones fit your style. 

Whatever you choose, you’ll be right. All of the events are can’t miss, so you might as well spend as much time as you can at the festival. My recommendations, though, are as follows. 


▪ Lowlife is billed as a “darkly comic, sublimely cinematic, and strangely heartwarming crime tale that explodes off the screen like a Molotov cocktail.” Lowlife has a lot of buzz both online and at the festival. Recommended strongly by festival director Christ Dortch himself, this is a film that is required viewing for the CFF.

▪ The Devil And Father Amorth is a documentary by director of The Exorcist William Freidkin, and follows Father Gabriele Amorth , an Italian Roman Catholic priest as he performs his ninth exorcism on an Italian woman. It’s a film that allows you to peel back the curtain of fiction and see the disturbing reality of the practice.

▪ RBG is a documentary that details the life and work of legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The film paints an intimate portrait of this American hero, highlighting just how important she is in light of the current political climate.

▪ The Last Movie Star is a film about “an aging, former movie star, portrayed by Burt Reynolds, being forced to face the reality that his glory days are behind him.” While it might not be a wholly new story, every story is a retelling of something, and The Last Movie Star shows that path we all eventually take.

▪ Wolfman’s Got Nards is “a heartfelt documentary” that “explores the power of cult film told through the 1987 classic The Monster Squad and the impact it has on fans, cast and crew, and the industry.” 

▪ One Sings, The Other Doesn’t is a 1977 French film as timely and necessary as ever. Billed as a “feminist musical about the bond of sisterhood…throughout years of changes and fraught relationships with men,” this is a unique opportunity to see a piece of film history. The CFF hasn’t had many musicals—don’t miss this one.

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