Caitriona Balfe as "Ma", Jamie Dornan as "Pa", Judi Dench as "Granny", Jude Hill as "Buddy", and Lewis McAskie as "Will" in director Kenneth Branagh's BELFAST
(L to R) Caitriona Balfe as “Ma”, Jamie Dornan as “Pa”, Judi Dench as “Granny”, Jude Hill as “Buddy”, and Lewis McAskie as “Will” in director Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST, a Focus Features release. Credit : Rob Youngson / Focus Features

The 24th annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival returns in-person and virtually from October 23–30, 2021 with 157 films, including 45 narrative feature films, 15 documentary feature films and 97 shorts – with 63 of these films directed by women.

The festival kicks off with the opening-night Gala Screening of Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh; Centerpiece Gala Screening C’mon C’mon from director and writer Mike Mills and wraps with the closing-night Gala Screening of King Richard with Aunjanue Ellis.

Presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the eight-day festival honors both professional and student filmmakers and welcomes major industry luminaries, including award-winning directors, writers, and actors.

This year, SCAD will honor Kenneth Branagh with the Lifetime Achievement in Acting and Directing Award for Belfast; Adrien Brody with the Vanguard Award for The French Dispatch; Clifton Collins, Jr. with the Distinguished Performance Award for Jockey; Aunjanue Ellis with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award for King Richard; Harry Gregson-Williams with the Lifetime Achievement in Composing Award for his body of work including The Last Duel; Maggie Gyllenhaal with the Rising Star Director Award for The Lost Daughter; Phil Lord and Chris Miller with the Outstanding Achievement in Animation Award for The Mitchells vs. The Machines; Mike Mills with the Auteur Award for C’mon C’mon; Ruth Negga with the Spotlight Award for Passing; Dylan Penn with the Rising Star Award for Flag Day; Sandy Powell with the Variety Creative Impact in Costume Design Award; and Odessa Young with the Discovery Award for Mothering Sunday.

“Settle into your seats and marvel at the magic of stellar cinema at this year’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival,” said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “With in-person events that prioritize safety, comfort, and community, SCAD’s signature festival dazzles with a display of more than 150 films and an assortment of stars — from living legends like Kenneth Branagh to luminaries such as Aunjanue Ellis. And more — always more! Premieres. Panels. Masterclasses. That’s SCAD. Home to the world’s largest and most lauded university film studio complex, home to tomorrow’s top talent.”

“We are so excited to be back in person to celebrate the best in cinema at the 2021 SCAD Savannah Film Festival, and to continue our diverse programming, championing wonder women and artisan talent trailblazers in the industry,” said SCAD Savannah Film Festival Executive Director Christina Routhier. “This year we have a stellar lineup of films, honorees, and panelists that will be at the event to engage with our audience and students. New to the festival will be an added outdoor screening venue, featuring some Halloween favorites that are sure to be very popular.”

Gala Screenings

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival is renowned for spotlighting major award contenders, screening a multitude of studio films prior to their wider release. Twenty-two films have been selected for the distinguished Gala Screenings, which are:

  • Belfast (Director Kenneth Branagh)
  • Bergman Island (Director Mia Hansen-Løve)
  • C’mon C’mon (Director Mike Mills)
  • Compartment No. 6 (Director Juho Kuosmanen)
  • Cyrano (Director Joe Wright)
  • The French Dispatch (Director Wes Anderson)
  • The Harder They Fall (Director Jeymes Samuel)
  • A Hero (Director Asghar Farhadi)
  • The Humans (Director Stephen Karam)
  • Jockey (Director Clint Bentley)
  • King Richard (Director Reinaldo Marcus Green)
  • The Last Duel (Director Ridley Scott)
  • The Lost Daughter (Director Maggie Gyllenhaal)
  • Mothering Sunday (Director Eva Husson)
  • To Olivia (Director John Hay)
  • Parallel Mothers (Director Pedro Almodóvar)
  • Passing (Director Rebecca Hall)
  • Petite Maman (Director Céline Sciamma)
  • The Power of the Dog (Director Jane Campion)
  • Red Rocket (Director Sean Baker)
  • Spencer (Director Pablo Larraín)
  • The Worst Person in the World (Director Joachim Trier)

Signature Screenings

The Signature Screenings series features premiere and special screenings, followed by Q&As with select directors, writers, actors, and producers. This year’s selection of films include:

  • Dune (Director Denis Villeneuve)
  • Flag Day (Director Sean Penn)
  • The Novice (Director Lauren Hadaway)
  • Paris, 13th District (Director Jacques Audiard)
  • Respect (Director Liesl Tommy)
  • The Actress (Director Andrew Ondrejcak, SCAD B.F.A., performing arts, 2002)
  • Surviving Clotilda (Director Olivia Grillo, SCAD B.F.A., film and television, 2021)

Docs to Watch

The eighth annual Docs to Watch series will be accompanied by a roundtable with the directors, hosted by Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter. Selected films include:

  • Becoming Cousteau (Director Liz Garbus)
  • The First Wave (Director Matthew Heineman)
  • Flee (Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen)
  • Found (Director Amanda Lipitz)
  • Francesco (Director Evgeny Afineevsky)
  • Julia (Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West)
  • Procession (Director Robert Greene)
  • The Rescue (Directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin)
  • Summer of Soul (Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson)
  • The Velvet Underground (Director Todd Haynes)

Animation Corner: Art in Motion

Animation has experienced an artistic resurgence that informs and entertains across generations and across the globe. Films include:

  • Ciao Alberto (Director McKenna Harris)
  • A Look Inside Disney’s Encanto (Directors Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith)
  • Luca (Director Enrico Casarosa)
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Director Mic Rianda)
  • The Summit of the Gods (Director Patrick Imbert)

After Dark

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival’s nod to the Halloween season includes these late-night feature films — selected to thrill, scare and shock:

  • The Beta Test (Director Jim Cummings)
  • Halloween (1978) (Director John Carpenter)
  • Hocus Pocus (Director Kenny Ortega)
  • A Savannah Haunting (Director William Mark McCullough)
  • Psycho (Director Alfred Hitchcock)
  • The Shining (Director Stanley Kubrick)


Join the SCAD Savannah Film Festival for conversations and panels with industry stars and insiders. This year’s panels include:

  • The exclusive Entertainment Weekly’s Breaking Big Panel and Awards, hosted by festival media partner Entertainment Weekly. Participants will be announced at a later date.
  • The Wonder Women series, focusing on the cinematic achievements and contributions of women directors, producers, and below-the-line talent in film and television.
  • The Below the Line series, highlighting the contributions of below-the-line talent to the art of cinema, with a focus on costume design and production design.
  • A panel with the filmmakers of Welcome to the Blumhouse, the thrilling film series that is back again this October with four new gripping tales that are sure to send a chill down your spine. Produced by Blumhouse Television and available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video worldwide.
    • Black as Night (Director Maritte Lee Go)
    • Bingo Hell (Writer/Director Gigi Saul Guerrero)
    • Madres (Director Ryan Zaragoza)
    • The Manor (Writer/Director Axelle Carolyn)
  • The SCAD Alumni Panel, highlighting graduates of the university’s top-ranked film and television degree program.

Competition Films

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival celebrates the work of established and emerging filmmakers, from feature-length films to two-minute shorts. The juried competition showcases the best of professional, animated, and student films selected from more than 1,500 entries annually.

Narrative Features

From side-splitting comedies to heart-wrenching dramas, the narrative feature films selected represent diversity in storytelling, excellence in acting and directing, and exemplary cinematography and editing:

  • Americanish (Director Iman Zawahry)
  • Dinner Party (Director Chris Naoki Lee)
  • The Falconer (Directors Seanne Winslow and Adam Sjöberg)
  • Porcupine (Director M. Cahill)
  • The Winter House (Director Keith Boynton)

Documentary Features

Beyond simple subject matters, documentaries present compelling stories that illuminate and educate audiences in a thought-provoking and timely manner:

  • The Book Keepers (Director Phil Wall)
  • Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story (Director Paul Michael Angell)
  • Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance (Director Khadifa Wong)
  • WOMB: Women of My Billion (Director Ajitesh Sharma)
  • Zero Gravity (Director Thomas Verrette, SCAD B.F.A., film and television, 2007)

Professional Shorts

Running the gamut of subject matter and style, these short films are selected based on their individual merits in storytelling and execution:

  • 1-800-D-DIRECT (Director Clare Macdonald)
  • Bufflehead (Director Steve Brett)
  • Chords (Director John Barnhardt)
  • Colossus (Director James Roe)
  • Feeling Through (Director Doug Roland)
  • Frank & Emmet (Director Carlos F. Puertolas)
  • I’m Listening (Director Mickey Sumner)
  • A Mistake with the Chairs (Director Alistair Petrie)
  • Night Music (Director Lukas Huffman)
  • The One (Director Nina Dobrev)
  • Voices (Director Jake Hart)

Animated Shorts

These animated films represent the diversity of the craft — from simple, hand-drawn figures to stop-motion and digital rendering — showcasing unique storytelling at its finest:

  • Annah la Javanaise (Director Fatimah Tobing Rony)
  • Blush (Director Joe Mateo)
  • Her Song (Directors Éabha Bortolozzo and Jack Kirwan)
  • The Mechanical Dancer (Director Jenna Jaillet)
  • Mondo Domino (Director Suki)
  • She Dreams at Sunrise (Director Camrus Johnson)
  • Stars on the Sea (Director Seung-Wook Jang)
  • Under the Skin, the Bark (Director Franck Dion)

Student Shorts

With solid storytelling and emerging vision, these films represent a broad range of categories including live action, narrative, documentary and animation. SCAD student films that are part of the competition include:

  • Bearly (Director Cherry Zhou)
  • Empty Nesters (Director Devon Solwold)
  • The Lumberjack and the Woodpecker (Director Connor Bushoven)
  • Monkey Thief (Director Zachary Ates)
  • The Ocean Duck (Director Huda Razzak)
  • Out O’ the Inkwell (Directors Adam Toutoungi and Andy Ortiz)
  • Pirate Lesson (Director Sofia Azpe)
  • Ruby Days (Director Noah Wong)
  • Son & Moon (Director Saiya Lin)

Global Shorts Forum

The Global Shorts Forum is a curated collection of international shorts across multiple genres that focus on world issues. This year’s themes include:

  • Black Voices, offering a critical dialogue on the Black experience in the U.S. and around the world.
  • HERstory, bringing the feminine perspective into focus. The film Listen to Us is directed by SCAD alum Juliana Henao Mesa (M.F.A., sound design, 2020).
  • Tales from the Pandemic, featuring stories from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic — and of how it has reshaped our everyday lives.

Shorts Spotlight

This year’s Shorts Spotlight themes include:

  • This American Life, showcasing the people, places, struggles, and joys that define the American experience. The film The Few Between is directed by SCAD student Walker Cody (B.F.A. film and television).
  • Pride Parade, exploring ideas of identity and the LGBTQIA experience. The film On View is directed by SCAD alum Francesca Poliseno (B.F.A., film and television, 2020).
  • Trigger Warnings, examining the things that trigger us, the fears that stir in us, and the inner struggle for emotional and mental resilience. The film BRAKE is directed by SCAD students Aja Weary (B.F.A. film and television) and Amanda Richardson (B.F.A., animation, 2021).

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