The husband-wife team of Adam Cohen and Jaime Byrd are solid fixtures in the Asheville film scene. Jaime is a producer, director, editor, and cinematographer for Blind Lyle Films, located in Asheville, while Adam is a producer for the same company. Jaime started the Asheville Filmmakers Group (AFG) several years ago. “I wanted to take the great community-building skills that we learned with the AFG and bring it into a worldwide audience,” Adam says.
The result of that effort takes place this weekend in the form of the Unofficial Google+ Film Festival, which combines social media and new online technology from Google to bring an interactive, live, international film festival into people’s homes, or anywhere they have an Internet connection. The action begins Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. EST. Festival events run until Sunday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. EST.
Filmmakers from Canada, India, South Korea, Nigeria, Austria, Portugal, the United States, France, England, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Guatemala, and Ireland have been selected to show their short films and Web series. The filmmakers will also be present (via a Google+ Hangout) to answer questions after their short films play online. Additional panel discussions will take place throughout the weekend.
In addition to the festival’s online presence, live showings will take place in Asheville as well as in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Film School.
“Stephanie O’Brien the Director for the Institute for Film and Media Studies approached me to hold a live viewing of the festival on the AB-Tech campus,” Adam says. “I of course jumped at the chance and she has been great to work with.” The Asheville event is scheduled for 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in room 115 of the Simpson building of AB-Tech. It will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with filmmakers from various points around the globe through Google+ along with local host, actor, and writer David Ostegaard. The event is free but donations are welcome, with all proceeds going to Prosthetics for Life.
Adam says that while he and Jaime would love to be in Asheville, they know the live event here is in good hands. Adam adds that he has been working closely with Neal Reed from the Fine Arts Theatre to pull off this local viewing party. “The only reason we are not in Asheville for this event is that Google took notice of what we’ve been doing and asked us to come to L.A. to host an event here,” Adam says. “Hence, the two locations. Next year, we plan on having at least 10 locations around the world.”
Adam adds that the idea behind the festival was to show the world that anyone can hold a live event anywhere. “I wanted Asheville to be represented as one of the innovators for this revolutionary new idea,” he says.
Asheville connections continue with two Asheville filmmakers in the festival: Katie Damien, and Kira Bursky, who is just 17 years old. In addition, one of the noncompeting films includes a music video for local Asheville singer-songwriter Ashley Chambliss.
“We hope that this will give the film-loving audience in Asheville some exposure to some great short films from around the world and continue to encourage Asheville filmmakers to produce quality content,” Adam says.