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Arts and Entertainment

Second annual Carolina Film Festival moves south of the border
Showcase at Winthrop University
Published Wednesday, October 9, 2019 12:17 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Carolina Film Festival founder Oliver Crooms.

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Oliver Crooms is expanding the reach of Carolina Film Festival.

The founder is counting down the days until the second annual cinema showcase, which runs Oct. 19-20 at Winthrop University.

Last year’s festival took place at Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus’ Hance Auditorium. It was a single-day event, which has expanded to two days. Taking the festival to Winthrop reflects Crooms’ goal of bringing the festival to a different city each year.

“One thing that makes us different from other festivals is each year we pledge to be in a different city between North and South Carolina,” Crooms said. “That makes us unique and special. We’d like to bridge the gap between Carolinians and the rest of the film community.”

Fifteen percent of proceeds from the weekend benefit non-profit Emerald School of Excellence, which is the first high school in the Carolinas designed to assist students battling substance abuse.

“I’m actually going there and teaching the students about film twice a month,” Crooms said.

The festival will include a celebrity panel and student workshop (free to all students), in addition to screening films. Among the panelists are Jeannine Kaspar of “Iron Man,” “Law & Order SVU,” and “Gotham,” Ricky Barksdale of “Black Panther” and “Luke Cage.” Gastonia native Maria Howell, singer and actress known for her performance in the film adaptation of “The Color Purple,” will participate in the student workshop Q&A.

Awards will be presented in eight categories: “Best Short,” “Best Trailer,” “Best Music Video,” “Best Drone,” “Best Animated Short,” “Best Student Short,” “Best Director” and “Most Creative”. North Carolina State Senator Paul Lowe Jr. will join the panel to speak on Senate Bill 57, which he is sponsoring. The bill would reenact tax credit for film studios to work in North Carolina.

“I know a lot of people are going to have questions,” Crooms said. “We had more submissions this year. We had submissions from South Africa, Italy, Canada, Australia—it’s really exciting for our second year.”

Crooms began as a videographer, primarily working with music videos, short films and promotional material.

“One day I literally woke up around December, and was like, ‘hey, I want to leave a legacy that will be here years after I’m gone that will benefit people and impact their lives,’” Crooms said. “That’s why I started the Carolina Film Festival.”

The Vance High School and Winston-Salem State University alumnus grew up in show business, specifically the music industry. His mother, gospel artist Arnetta Murrill Crooms, earned a Grammy Award nomination for the single “There’s a Healing” with her family group The Murrills.

“I wasn’t really exposed to the film festival world,” Crooms said. “This world was really introduced to me after graduating college.”

It is a matter of balancing corporate life and his creative side. Crooms established On The Beat Entertainment in 2011 before adding the film side in 2015. He earned Best Director at the 2016 Carolina Music Video Awards and the 2016 Gospel Image Awards.

“I definitely have an arts side,” Crooms said, “but managing Carolina Film Festival definitely takes a lot of corporate thinking, planning and organizing.”

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