Tickets go on sale for reel fun event

Inaugural Fairhope Film Festival will feature 40 films, four days, four walkable venues

By Meredith Portman

Picturesque Fairhope, already known as an arts mecca, will add world-class films to its offerings when the inaugural Fairhope Film Festival kicks off Nov. 7-10.

The Festival features 40 films, “the best of the best,” from national and international film festivals, including notable foreign and feature films, documentaries and shorts.

The Fairhope Film Festival has been a dream of founders Mary Riser, Phillip Norris and John Gautier for more than a decade. The team started and ran the Fairhope Film Series that brought national and international films to the St. James Theater on the USA Baldwin Campus for 15 years.

But even with that experience under their belts, the founders felt they should meet with consultants from the Crested Butte and Telluride film festivals before embarking on such an ambitious project. The consultants visited Fairhope in December 2012 and were thrilled with what they saw in both the city and the area.

Citing the beautiful, walkable venues, extraordinary accommodations, transportation, shopping, dining and nightlife, and nearby natural and historic sites, the consultants deemed Fairhope an ideal location for a great film festival experience.

The Founders began Festival planning in November 2012 and have recruited a great quantity and quality of volunteers from around the local, state and regional area.

“The outpouring of support has been tremendous,” said Fairhope Film Festival Executive Director Mary Riser. “ It is clear that our local, regional and state communities recognize the value of the Festival, not only for what it adds to the arts and cultural community, but also for its positive economic impact.”

The Fairhope Film Festival is expected to draw thousands of filmgoers, not only from the Bay area, but regionally. This will result in increased traffic for lodging, dining, nightlife, museums, and at the beaches and the many outdoor attractions along the beautiful Gulf Coast.

A preliminary economic impact analysis by Don Epley with the University of South Alabama’s Center for Real Estate and Economic Development anticipates an economic impact on the Baldwin County economy alone of between $1.2-1.75 million in the Festival’s inaugural year.

The four venues in Fairhope are the St. James Theater on the USA Baldwin Campus at 111 St. James Ave., the Giddens Conference Center in the Fairhope Public Library, Centennial Hall on the Faulkner State campus, and The Venue at 105 S. Section St.

The schedule will be announced and tickets go on sale Sept. 26 at the Festival’s website, A limited number of tickets are available now through an exclusive package being offered by the Grand Hotel Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Point Clear at

The Film Festival is supported in part by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Alabama Tourism Department and the Alabama Film Office as well as a host of other sponsors.

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