(LARGO, MD – October 9, 2023) – This year’s Prince George’s Film Festival (PGFF) featured screenings at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), AMC Magic Johnson Theater, and the National Harbor to showcase productions curated by local talent and broadcast the impact that film can have on both economics and representation. Lynn Whitfield served as the keynote speaker on Sunday at the MGM Grand.
“A Million and One,” kicked off the Film Festival on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at the Magic Johnson Theater, as festival team members, wearing their vibrant logo consisting of a red, green, and yellow camera, signed in viewers and took pictures with the hometown crowd.
“This is a wonderful preview as this is our first community screening. The Arts and Humanities Council’s mission is to expand creative excellence and be a resource to the community,” said Rhonda Dallas, CEO and Chief Curator of the PG Arts and Humanities Council and founder of the film festival. “‘A Million and One,’ was produced by the phenomenal and award-winning Harold Jackson III, who’s been in the DMV for over a decade. We’re so excited to kick off the festival this year at Magic Johnson Theater.”
Producer and director Jackson III has had a lifelong interest in film. He was awarded a grant by the Arts and Humanities Council for his production.
“I have a big extended family and I’m the quiet one. One of the things we did together as a family was watch movies. I saw that movies can move people, and I started to build from there,” said Jackson III. “In my personal filmmaking style, I’ve taken a lot of cues from Sidney Lumet and if I had to whittle down to my favorite movie it is likely “Devil in a Blue Dress.”
Before the movie, Jackson stood inside the theater hallway while additional viewers streamed into the theater to join the audience of 50.
Local leaders see a promising future for film in Prince George’s County.
“I look at what film has already done for Atlanta and changed their landscape. My committee has authority over tax credits and we want to use these tax credits to expand arts and film in Prince George’s,” said Prince George’s County House Delegation Chair Nick Charles (D–District 25). “This is our decade, as the Governor said. Bringing arts and film is a way to jumpstart our economic engine in the film industry.”
State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy and Delegate Karen Toles (both D– District 25) were also spotted on the red carpet.
“It’s great that P.G. County sees themselves as worthy to be shown this way. This is a huge market,” said actor Lamman Rucker on the opening night of the film festival. Rucker served as one of the festival’s ambassadors. “A big part of what I believe I do is amplifying voices. I know a lot of people who would’ve considered themselves ‘too big’ for some of my earliest roles, and that just doesn’t make sense to me. If we don’t take these opportunities, these roles might not happen.”
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts graduate also spoke about the importance of giving back to the community and partnering with small businesses.
All-day virtual screenings were held on Friday and Saturday alongside evening networking sessions and the film festival ended with a screening of “Comeback Kids,” produced by Jimmy Jenkins and NBA Champion Quinn Cook. This pairing also produced “Basketball County: In The Water.”
The sponsors of the Film Festival were the Prince George’s Film Office, Bowie State University, Experience Prince George’s, Adobe, Truist Bank, Maryland Department of Commerce, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, WHUR 96.3, Megamind Media and Fou-Dre Vodka.
Joshua Kane, an interested moviegoer who recently moved from Baltimore to Bowie, made an appearance on Thursday night.
“A lot of what I want to take away is the networking,” said Kane. “It’s a great experience to be in on the ground level for what Maryland will achieve in the fine arts.”