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Nacogdoches Film Fest to showcase works of SFA graduates

February 15, 2016 - Robbie Goodrich
Brandon Polanco (left) and Derek Wayne Johnson, both SFA graduates, will have their works featured at the fifth annual Nacogdoches Film Festival, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 25 through 27.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Two Stephen F. Austin State University graduates will have their works showcased at the fifth annual Nacogdoches Film Festival, a celebration of the art and entertainment of film in all its forms.

Tickets are now on sale for the festival, which is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 25 through 27, in downtown Nacogdoches, on the SFA campus and other venues in town.

This year's event includes a star-studded lineup of featured guests, including New York Times best-selling author and the brains behind the hit TV series, "True Blood," Charlaine Harris.

Festival events also include project viewings and a short film competition, various panels including Q-and-A sessions with featured guests, a "Best True Blood Costume" contest and more, according to information at nacogdochesfilmfestival.org.

Brandon Polanco and Derek Wayne Johnson, both graduates of SFA, are among the filmmakers whose works will be shown. Polanco's short film projects "Alchemy," "Vicky & Jonny" and "Writer's Block" will be shown beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, located at 329 E. Main St. A question-and-answer session with Polanco will follow at 8 p.m.

A Brooklyn-based filmmaker from Austin, Polanco earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre at SFA in 2009. He was among the Rose Bruford Exchange students in the School of Theatre, and while on the exchange he also studied at RESAD (Spain's Royal Dramatic Academy) in Madrid. His short film "Writer's Block" starring Bryan Cranston of AMC's "Breaking Bad" fame won widespread acclaim in 2013-14 and was shown at the 2014 Nacogdoches Film Festival. Polanco's film "Vicky & Jonny" was accepted last year into the world-renowned Cannes International Film Festival as part of the Short Film Corner. Polanco is co-owner of the production company 3 of A Kind Productions.

Johnson's documentary about the Oscar-winning director of "Rocky" (1976) and "The Karate Kid" (1984) entitled "John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs" (2016) will show from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Theater on the SFA campus. It will be followed by a Q&A session with Johnson.

The documentary examines the life, career and films of the legendary director and features exclusive never-before-seen interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Burt Reynolds, Jerry Weintraub, Talia Shire and many more, according to the festival website.

Johnson is an award-winning film director/writer/producer and owner of AJ16 Entertainment, a production company specializing in feature films and documentaries. After film school at SFA, he got his start by acting in Hollywood films and TV as well as directing independent features in Texas and Louisiana, eventually making his way to California.

Among the festival panelists are Herbert Midgley, an instructor of music technology in the SFA School of Music who is also an active filmmaker. Midgley has worked as a director, unit production manager, assistant director, cameraman, editor, sound designer, sound mixer, boom, grip, production assistant, screenwriter and composer. He has worked on nine feature films, more than 30 short films, and has made many art films. In 2014, Midgley premiered his sci-fi feature film, "The Rise Of The Robots," in film festivals across the United States.

A portion of the festival proceeds will fund filmmaking projects within the SFA School of Art.

For a full list of featured guests, event specifics and ticket information, visit nacogdochesfilmfestival.org.