Opening Night of the 2019 SCAD Savannah Film Festival

10 Reasons to Tune In to the SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Paula Wallace
2 min readOct 23, 2020


Grab your popcorn and get ready for an all-access pass to SCAD Savannah Film Festival 2020! This year, we’re transporting the big screen to your screen. In a season of firsts, our 23rd annual Film Fest takes a plot twist that even the director didn’t anticipate — the festival’s virtual debut, with more than 170 screenings, industry panels and In Conversation sessions available to watch wherever you are in the world! So, get ready to settle into your seats and sofas. And, in anticipation of this weekend, let’s delight in dazzling debuts and memorable moments that make our festival what it is — epic.

We’re ready, Mr. DeMille. SCAD wraps a rousing first-ever festival in 1998 by screening the Billy Wilder classic, Sunset Boulevard.

Seen…and, scene. Mahershala Ali takes home the 2016 Discovery Award, and guess what happens six months later? He wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight, and the world celebrates him as a generational talent.

Turn the page. Honored with a Spotlight Award in 2015 and a Rising Star Director Award in 2019, Olivia Wilde is our first and only two-time award winner … and we’re still chuckling at Booksmart a year later.

Cue applause. Before a packed house in 2004 at Trustees Theater, Peter O’Toole basks in the festival’s longest-ever curtain call: a standing ovation, 12 minutes and 39 seconds.

Rolling! Before the 2015 premiere of her film, Miss You Already, director Catherine Hardwicke graces the red carpet with a cartwheel and split.

Ask the audience. For the first time in festival history, SCAD screens a feature that goes on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The year? 2008. The film? Slumdog Millionaire.

And the Oscar goes to … Savannah! That’s right: in 1999, Academy Award winner George Kennedy hauls his hardware to the Hostess City — in a bowling bag! — to share with the SCAD family and film festival attendees.

Strong female lead(ers). Uniting visionary women rewriting cinema history above and below the line, the festival’s Wonder Women panels enter their fourth year as uplifting forums for art, perspective, professionalism, and empowerment.

Breaking! New for the 2020 edition, festival media partner Entertainment Weekly hosts Breaking Big, a panel of today’s rising stars who discuss current projects, what’s next and, of course, their big breaks!

That’s a tasty burger. Unwrap a Big Kahuna or a Royale with Cheese and hang out with superstar Samuel L. Jackson, who owns some of Hollywood’s most memorable monologues and who, this year, makes his SCAD Savannah Film Festival debut.



Paula Wallace

Designer. Author. President and Founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) || ||