FSU’s Torchlight Film Series Comes to 30A


$100,000 Gift to Open A Rich New World of Contemporary Film to 30A Residents

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Residents along Scenic Highway 30A in the Florida Panhandle have new cause for celebration. The rich and stimulating world of independent film soon will be coming directly to them through a new partnership with the Florida State University Film School’s Torchlight Program.

The partnership was made possible thanks to more than $100,000 in philanthropic support provided by community leaders in Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach and Seaside, as well as the St. Joe Community Foundation.

The Torchlight Program, which was designed to give film students hands-on experience in the distribution and marketing of feature films, also includes in its mission the goal of creating a culture of cinema appreciation in Florida through community interaction. The program’s director, Paul Cohen, a veteran motion picture executive, producer and distributor, attends the best film festivals all over the world, seeking films that contribute significantly to the dialogue of independent cinema. He has shared some of his finds with the Tallahassee community over the past few years, often screening films before their national release.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to increase our sphere of influence in the state, and share some truly ground-breaking films with the very people who constitute their ideal audience, even if they aren’t living in a major metropolitan area,” Cohen said of the new initiative.

Starting in October and continuing for a full year, the Torchlight Program will screen exciting contemporary feature films in partner communities, and bring in guest filmmakers and cinema experts to talk about film. The idea was first hatched in a meeting that Frank Patterson, dean of The Film School, had with Robert Davis, Seaside’s founder and the father of the New Urbanism design movement, as well as leaders of the St. Joe Community Foundation.

“The goal was to find a way for the 30A communities to work together to bring cutting-edge art into their own backyards, and to help introduce this beautiful place in Florida to visitors from around the world,” Patterson said. “This is a really exciting initiative, and the Torchlight Program, with its ever-growing roster of fabulous films, seems to fit the bill perfectly.”

Funding for the project came from the leadership of each community and the St. Joe Community Foundation. Jane McNabb, executive director of the foundation, said that “this fits perfectly with our mission to enrich the quality of life of the people who live, work and play in Northwest Florida. We’re proud to be involved.”

“From architecture to art to music to film to the live theater, the communities of 30A have always worked together to support and foster creativity,” added Jason Comer, town founder of Alys Beach. “We’re very excited to welcome FSU’s Torchlight Program into our growing town.”

Rosemary Beach will host the first screening on Saturday, Oct. 10. Jim Bagby, the town manager, said he was “thrilled to be partnering with our state’s nationally renowned film school and the neighboring communities. I’m looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership with our friends along 30A, Florida State and the Torchlight Program.”

The initiative also provides for the funding of writers-in-residence in the participating communities. Students enrolled in The Film School’s prestigious MFA writing program will work on their own plays and screenplays while also helping to coordinate the monthly screenings.

“We feel certain that we will one day see these writers find their way back to these very communities that helped launch their careers,” Patterson said.

Watch www.AlysBeachToday.com for more details, including the upcoming Torchlight Film Series events at Alys Beach!

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