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Chattanooga Film Festival Goes Virtual and They’re Bringing Ice-T, Ernest Dickerson, and Joe Dante

The Chattanooga Film Festival is one of the best-kept secrets in genre cinema. Now is your chance to experience its glory without leaving your home.
Travis Knight / CFF
By  · Published on May 18th, 2020

The Chattanooga Film Festival offers plenty of fresh cinematic experiences. For my money, it’s the event I turn to when I need to soak in the history of genre storytelling. In years past, I attended a lecture on the secret history of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and watched fellow FSR scribe William Dass nearly reach the point of blackout during a round of drunken Dungeons and Dragons hosted by screenwriter C. Robert Cargill (Sinister). I sat gobsmacked as Crispin Glover attacked his audience with his baffling It is Fine! Everything is Fine, forever changing the perceptions of in attendance.

These are my people.

And that is why I was utterly crushed when our current situation demanded the 2020 festival to be put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. But I should have known that festival director and lead programmer Chris Dortch would not allow his baby to take a break. As we’ve seen with others, the Chattanooga Film Festival has pivoted to a virtual screening experience, and thanks to a partnership with Microsoft as well as the addition of Cinepocalypse founder Josh Goldbloom as Artistic Director, the online event is looking to rival the usual in-person festivities.

At the top of this year’s schedule is a reunion between two legends: Ice-T and Ernest Dickerson will discuss their humans-hunting-humans classic Surviving the Game. Dickerson mostly receives love for his direction of Juice and Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight as well as his iconic cinematography for Do the Right Thing and other Spike Lee joints. His badass 1994 effort demands more respect. Featuring gotta-see performances from Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, and Charles S. Dutton, Surviving the Game is not the lesser Hard Target; it’s the superior hunting homeless actioner.

You can’t have a festival without crowing someone with a Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, the Chattanooga Film Festival will give that honor to Joe Dante, who will virtually accept the righteous and lush prize he so deserves. He’s best-known for Gremlins and The Howling but also merits recognition for the satirical brilliance of The Burbs and his screwball twist on the Fantastic Voyage concept with Innerspace. Recently, for the Rest. In. Pictures. podcast, I blitzed through his filmography to celebrate the life of essential Dante collaborator Dick Miller. I’ll happily cosign the director’s entry into the hall of legend.

The festival is happening May 22nd – 25th, entirely online, and costs $30 for admission. I’m slapping down my cash for those items listed above, but there’s plenty more bang for your buck. You’ve got producer David Lawson Jr. (Spring, The Endless) hosting a pitch meeting workshop, an in-depth conversation between Joe Bob Briggs and filmmaker Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers), the world premiere of the Brazillian bloodbath Skull, an interactive Q&A with the maniac metal band GWAR, and a dozen other rad events of note.

Dig a little deeper into this year’s festival by clicking here.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)