Arash Kamiar interviews Elizabeth Lawrence and Ashley McLaughlin about the upcoming Jax Documentary Film Festival, scheduled for April 16 - 17, in Five Points! The two day event hosts dozens of documentary films, sourced from across the globe. Events kick off at the historic Sun-Ray Cinema and Raindogs on Park Street!
Arash: Oh, great...another film festival…
Elizabeth: Oh, great! Another film festival!
Are you affiliated with the other Jacksonville Film Festival, that may or may not still exist? Or, is this a totally new thing?
Elizabeth: Nope. This is a totally new film festival! We are a documentary film festival. We screen short and feature documentaries from around the world.
Ashley: We are not affiliated with anyone. I have heard things about the Jacksonville Film Festival, but this is not that. We are our own, independent thing.
Elizabeth: I once participated in a documentary master class where a professor encouraged us to analyze the sentence - 'What is a document?' for three hours straight. And would you believe that I STILL have no idea how to properly answer this question!? For me, I enjoy documenting life, ideas, culture, people, history etc... Using film, photography, sound, writing etc…
Ashley: To me a Documentary is real life story telling. It is the definition of a thing, idea, belief or concept and told through the perspective of a storyteller. A Documentry can be a hundred things to hundreds of people, but a good Documentary makes the viewer think critically about what they have just watched. And a GREAT documentary makes you think critically of yourself.
Elizabeth Lawrence is a documentary producer/director/schemer residing in Jacksonville, FL. She has worked in the film industry for over ten years. In 2010, she made her feature film directorial debut with, ROLL OUT, COWBOY. The documentary toured over 50 film festivals world-wide, received six Best Documentary awards and acquired distribution. In 2011, she was invited to make several short films during a year-long fellowship at UnionDocs in Brooklyn, NY. In 2012, she co-directed a documentary short with Amanda Stymeist called, 'So Far Above Humans They Are.' The film was on exhibition at the Cameron Art Museum in North Carolina. Lawrence is currently the Festival Director of the Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival.
Ashley McLaughlin is a transplant of New York currently residing in the great region of Jacksonville, FL. As a photographer by trade, Ashley has managed to mold herself into many positions in the art/media and music world. In New York she worked as a photographer, graphic designer, promoter and band manager for a number of different ventures. Upon relocation to the First Coast, Ashley began to find other like-minded and creative persons who ignited her interest to form new projects similar to those in New York. She is eager and zealous to stretch her creative and influential talents in collaboration with the Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival as Event Manager.
What kind of submissions are you looking for? Is the schedule set or are you still accepting films?
Elizabeth: Our schedule is locked. Submissions will open again for the 2017 festival in August. We program engaging stories. Character driven stories are my personal favorite. But we enjoy all docs. Crime docs, historical docs, strange docs, environmental docs, experimental docs, animated docs...Just NO fiction .
What are some of the films and how did you decide?
Elizabeth: We are playing 19 feature films and 14 short films.
iranian ninjas Iranian Ninjas
portrait of a rapping cowboy Roll Out, Cowboy
the american dream Dog Days
coming-of-age in the Arctic Children of the Arctic
portrait of an eccentric artist Almost There
fashion photographer The Incomparable Rose Hartman
music Revolution Riot Grrrl Style and Half-Cocked
gentrification Los Sures and Battle For Brooklyn
war photography Frame By Frame
Why did you decide on a non-competitive festival?
Elizabeth: We received almost 1000 submissions from around the world! So we figured that all of the films selected to screen here in Jacksonville are winners. We want to celebrate the films and celebrate the filmmakers!
You've partnered with Sun-Ray, how are they involved?
Elizabeth: Sun-Ray Cinema and Raindogs are our screening venues.
Ashley: We have partnered with Sunray AND Raindogs for this festival. Sunray for the traditional film experience with a twist and Raindogs for a unique experience.
Break down the entirety of the festival in one word.
Elizabeth: One word? Shenanigans!
Ashley: So in one word? SCHEMES!
Now, explain it in 5 to 7 sentences. What should I expect?
Elizabeth: Two days (April 16 & 17th) of feature and short length documentaries films! Q & A's with visiting filmmakers! A secret work-in-progress screening! Cocktails at Sun-Ray and Raindogs! A video installation!
Ashely: This isn’t your typical film festival. The whole weekend is split between an amazing movie theatre and a hip bar. There will be documentaries from all over the world, as well as local film makers. We will have Q & A’s with film makers, Art and Video installations will be set up and after parties will be bangin! In short, our hearts, souls and slow decent into insanity will all be put into this first time, one of a kind Festival!
I think I'm going to trade mark the laurel leaves that every film festival uses and then sue everyone. Is this a good or bad idea?
Elizabeth: Go ahead. Give it a go. Just promise us that we may document your suing frenzy with go-pros or drones or spy cameras!
Ashley: This goes against the moral fabric of my being…But if I can get involved, where do I sign?
Give me some background on who you are? How did you end up in Jacksonville? What aspects of the city do you think natives overlook, good and bad?
Elizabeth: I’m a commercial producer/editor by day and documentary filmmaker/film festival schemer by night. I’ve worked in film for over ten years in NYC and LA. I moved from NYC to Jacksonville a year ago for adventure and love. I’ve found both!
Ashley: Very in depth question. I guess in short, I originate from Long Island, NY. I moved down here to be with my boyfriend about 2 years ago.. I had mixed feeling moving to the south, but I am so glad I did. In comparison to New York, there is none. I am jaded…all of us New Yorkers are, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Here, Elizabeth and I met, and had an idea and a crazy dream and all we had to do is dip our toe in a pool and the ripples have been huge. That’s the good thing about Jacksonville. The interest. I just hope that this opens up more art and culture to be The Bold New City of the South. I think that is possible, with more community projects like this.
I'm assuming you are looking for volunteers and sponsors? What the best way for the community to connect with you directly or stay up to date on festival info?
Elizabeth: Yes please! Volunteers see films for free AND get a fancy festival tee-shirt. To learn more email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at jaxdocfest.org
Ashley: Heavens to betsy we are ! We have put up an add on good ol’ Craigslist, but if anyone reading this is interested in helping out in any way, they can contact me direct at Ashley@jaxdocfest.org. We need people who want to get in on the ground leve with this passion project. We also have a facebook page, twitter, Instagram and website that people can keep up to date on.
How does someone attend the festival? Are you open to trades? If so, I can set up a kombucha system in your house. I'll even include a 2nd ferment for VIP tickets. Deal?
Elizabeth: Installing a Kombucha system in my house will get you a free popcorn. But, buying me a whiskey ginger at The Wall Street or perhaps nachos at Raindogs will definitely get you some free tix!
Ashely: I have no idea what anything you said was, but I can say we accept all major credit cards and cash. Tickets will be on sale though SunRay Theatres. You could buy individual tickets for the individual Documentaries, or you can get a Day Pass. This will let you bounce from SunRay to Raindogs all day. There are Saturday and Sunday Passes and they run $35.00 per day. There are a limited amount of Passes but we will announce on Facebook and Twitter when everything will go on sale.
Ashley: Lets just run though it again. 2016 Inaugural Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival will run Saturday and Sunday April 16-17. Times will stager between Sunray and Raindogs but the Festival will run from Approx. 1pm-9pm Satuday, with an afterparty and instalations at Raindogs about 11pm Saturday night. Sunday will be 2-7pm between Sunray and Raindogs. And any specific or general questions can be asked via email to me, Ashley McLaughlin and ASHLEY@jaxdocfest.org. I think that’s it! Thank you Arash!
For other MJ Coverage of the Film Festival check out
an interview with the founders:
The list of film selections at the festival.
The TVJax Melissa Ross Interview about the event!
Connect with Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival: