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Jokara Film Festival Held in Colquitt

Ralph Wilcox cuts the ribbon for the new studioSeptember 3, 2006 -- The first JOKARA Family Film/Video Festival has now found its way into the history books of Southwest Georgia. The festival got underway Thursday, August 31, 2006; it was quite a successful event with over 150 registered industry professionals who came from various locations: Atlanta, Hollywood, California, New York, Chicago, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and even the United Kingdom.

Veryl Cockey, president of the Colquitt/Miller County Chamber of Commerce welcomed everyone to the official breakfast and ceremony which was held at the First Baptist Church of Colquitt on Friday, September 1. Others welcoming the guests were Dr. Carl Marshall, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Mayor Jerry Chapman, and the architects of Swamp Gravy, Karen Kimbrel and Joy Jinks.
Mr. Howard Small, chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, also participated in the opening ceremony as he added additional thanks and recognized the efforts of Ralph Wilcox and others who have been pressing to make Wilcox’s dream of using the film and television industry as a vehicle for economic development a reality.

The festival offered something for everyone, ranging from a tour of Southwest Georgia, with Mr. Bill Halford of Arlington, as the guide. There were movies galore, several symposiums, and gospel entertainment, not to mention great barbecue provided by Mr. Burnell Grant.

A well attended “Meet and Greet the Filmmakers” reception was held at LAPD Restaurant. Those present had an opportunity to interact with the celebrities, take pictures, and get autographs.
The highlight of the event came on Saturday, September 2. This was the evening of the official unveiling of the new sound stage, a one million dollar facility. Ralph Wilcox cut the ribbon, and the gala began. The 22,000 square foot sound stage, built in Miller County, was financed by a $500,000 OneGeorgia grant, as well as by federal and private funding.

After a wonderful meal that was prepared by Big Mama’s Place of Blakely, Rowena’s Catering of Albany and Mr. Billy Roland, entertainment was at its best with Ms. Faye Raye, a recording artist from Atlanta; Vincent S.C. Hollis, a saxophonist from Albany, Doc McKenzie and the Hi-Lites from South Carolina.. The keynote speaker was Ms. Hattie Winston (Nurse Margaret on the t.v. sitcom Becker). Winston’s speech was one that promoted family friendly films, as she spoke of the many roles that she was offered but did not accept because of the content. She said, “I made a commitment never to participate in anything that would embarrass my child.” Winston introduced her husband Harold Wheeler, the musical composer for the hit show, “Dancing with the Stars.” Wheeler has also composed music for the Emmy and Academy Awards. Joining Winston and her husband was Glynn Turman (Mayor Royce on The Wire).

Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of MOVIEGUIDE and president of The Christian Film and Television Commission, was also one of the notable speakers.

Southwest Georgia Film Commission Director Ralph Wilcox said, “I am so glad that so many of my friends have come to support this effort.” He recognized Joy Jinks and Karen Kimbrel as the JOKA in JOKARA, with the last syllable “RA” representing Ralph. He also thanked Brenda Cheatem and staffer Judy Jones-Colston for all of their support and dedication.

It was an impressive gathering of show-business industry professionals and local and regional supporters. There were approximately 600 people in attendance.

Among the participants was actress Deborah Callaway Duke, who appeared in both “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Warm Springs.”

“I think it’s great,” Duke said of the festival. “It’s going to give a lot of people an opportunity to do their dreams.”

Screenwriters Shayne Edwards, Charles Robertson and Nathan Myers, all of Fort Worth, Texas, and with EpicStar Pictures, traveled to Colquitt to pitch one of Edwards’ family features films, a 19-minute short titled “Invictus,” and another screenplay that was a team effort.
Registrants from as far as Atlanta, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Chicago, IL, various locations in Florida and London, England had registered by midday on Friday.

“To have that already happening was a good sign,” Wilcox said.

The weekend events featured film screenings, as well as workshops for screen writers, filmmakers, film production technicians, actors, producers, and directors.

“This event has made a difference, and I do believe that this is the beginning of something major," Wilcox said.

"On behalf of Henny Penny Video/Televison Production Company and the Southwest Georgia Film Commission Office, a special thank you is extended to all of the sponsors, attendees, and well wishers for the tremendous showing of support. Get ready for 2007, the next JOKARA Family Film/Video Festival," he continued.

For More Information Contact:

Southwest Georgia Film Commission
263 Phillips Street, Colquitt, GA 39837
Tel: (229) 758-8833
FAX: (229) 758-8166
Internet: information@swgafilms.com


For general information, e-mail information@swgafilms.com.
E-mail jhatcher@swgafilms.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2006 Southwest Georgia Film Commission
Last modified: 11/08/09
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