Playing to a sold-out crowd at Chapel Hill’s Silverspot Cinema, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma opened North Carolina’s inaugural Film Fest 919. The deeply personal (and Oscar-ready) film received a strong reception from the Chapel Hill audience. Stars Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Travira were in attendance and received the Film Fest 919 Breakthrough Award. Cuarón introduced the film through a videotaped message. Roma’s appearance at Film Fest 919 continues its hot run through the fall film festival circuit and helps North Carolina make a name for itself as a premiere film festival destination.
Co-star Marina de Travira spoke to the packed house about the emotional intensity around coming to the set each day. Cuarón followed an unusual tactic in eliciting authenticity from his actors by withholding scenes until the day of filming.
“We were facing what the character was going through as if we were facing our own lives,” de Travira shared.
With a slogan of “Catch the Films Before They Catch On,” Film Fest 919 is the brainchild of three film industry veterans: Claudia Puig (Los Angeles Film Critics Association president), publicist Carol Marshall, and Chapel Hill-native Randi Emerman. The festival is designed to put North Carolina on equal footing with Virginia’s Middleburg Film Festival and Georgia’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
It’s about time too.
North Carolina’s reputation for film and television extends decades. Recent productions include last year’s Oscar-winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Fox’s acclaimed limited series Shots Fired. With long-standing financial incentives re-instated by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, it makes total sense that North Carolina would finally host its own major film festival that plays during the coveted fall Oscar season.
Film Fest 919 runs through Sunday night with a closing ceremony featuring Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. Films showing through Sunday include The Favourite, The Old Man & the Gun, Destroyer, 22 July, A Private War, Boy Erased, and The Sisters Brothers, among others.
For more information on Film Fest 919, check out their website. Awards Daily will cover the closing night screening of Green Room and ceremony where the Audience Choice Award will be announced.