And those involved in the planning say their goal is to maintain the level of quality shown to Rome audiences during its inaugural event this past September.
The festival’s first year was a success, said Rome Area Council for the Arts Executive Director Allen Bell. In a four-day period, the festival saw more than 5,000 people and had more than 100 volunteers working, he said.
“We made a lot of good contacts in the film industry for Rome,” Bell said.
“The feedback in terms of quality was great.”
Barry Norman, founder and executive director of the festival said last September’s films brought in a large crowd, resulting in a 25-percent increase in ticket sales from when the festival was in Dahlonega. “It exceeded what I expected,” Norman said. “Rome was a great place and will continue to be a good place.”
Norman said that bringing back the films from all around the world is a must. But adding something new to the mix, Norman hopes, will bring in the audience that didn’t visit the festival’s debut. “I am trying to bring in name people, people everyone has heard of, to come in and pick their favorite movie — sort of ‘an evening with.’”
Some of the stars Norman says he is approaching include Steve Buscemi, Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon and Al Franken — but nothing is definite yet.
Other changes are in store for the festival’s second year, including adding a new member to the leaders of the pack.
Harry Musselwhite, a senior lecturer at Berry College and director of the Berry Singers, is taking on the role of program/creative director and will have the final say in which films will be shown in 2005.
“I’m pleased as I can be,” he said. “I am very excited to be the lead person in choosing films for the festival.”
Musselwhite said, with the help of a few local film buffs, he hopes to bring a broad variety of entertainment to Rome.
To prepare for the position, Musselwhite is planning a trip to the Sundance Film Festival in January. “If I’m going to be heading up a film festival, I might as well go to the best one,” he said.
Norman said bringing Musselwhite into the picture is a plus. “He’s so passionate about it,” Norman said. “It will be good to have a local person in there. He’ll bring a fresh perspective to it.”
The festival will also be freshened up by volunteers and sponsors who will know what to expect, added Bell. He said he’d also like to see more college students and professors walk through the venue doors