The 2015 Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) has announced which movies will be opening and closing this year’s festival, with James Franco’s latest film set to open the 10 day event. The event this year will begin on March 20 and will run until March 29. The festival has spent the last 39 years showcasing documentaries, short films and narratives that are made independently from major Hollywood studios. For this year’s ATLFF one of the big names in indie movies, Franco, will not only be showcasing his latest work, but he will also be present for the screening of the film on opening night. While the opening night film will be Franco’s I Am Michael, the closing night’s film is Sunshine Superman, a documentary about BASE jumper Carl Boenish.
Franco’s latest indie film is I Am Michael, which also stars Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts and Charlie Carver. In the movie the actor portrays Michael Glatze, the former gay activist who denounces his sexuality and begins living his life as a straight man, on his journey to become a pastor. Not only did he leave behind a boyfriend, portrayed by Quinto, on his new path in life, but he also renounces his previous sexuality and eventually determines that homosexuality is in fact a sin. The film touches on both aspects of the Glatze’s life, from his time as a gay man to his new life as a straight man.
The opening night of the ATLFF will feature Franco’s movie in the premier slot of 7:30 at the Plaza Theatre. The actor himself will be on hand for the screening, just as he was for the showing of the movie during the Sundance Film Festival in January. Franco is known as a big name in the indie film world. In fact, at the Sundance Festival the programming director, Trevor Groth, joked with Entertainment Weekly about the actor being at the festival because he was in so many of the films that were submitted. The joke was, that Franco had appeared in almost 73 of the movies, so statistically he had a good shot at making an appearance.
Although Groth was exaggerating about the number of films Franco appeared in during the indie festival, the actor did have two films entered. The first movie being I Am Michael and the second was True Story. Much of the buzz however, surrounded Franco’s I Am Michael. The film premiered at Sundance with mixed reviews, with some calling the piece thought-provoking and well executed, while others felt that while the topic itself was covered well, the film seemed to only come across as efficient. Whether people enjoyed the movie or not, most individuals who watched it agreed that the film was one that should be able to provoke a discussion.
The announcement that Franco’s latest movie would be opening the ATLFF is being called a provocative move by film organizers. While the screening of I Am Michael is one of the more talked about films at the festival, much of that stems from Franco’s own popularity, as well as the topic at hand.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo Credits: Cara Howe – Courtesy of Sundance Institute