Celebrities and filmmakers walking the red carpet surrounded by flashing cameras; awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor and Actress being presented to elated winners in a packed theater; gala parties with crowds mingling and enjoying scrumptious
food and champagne—is this Hollywood or Cannes? Guess again—this is Beaufort!
Between Charleston and Savannah along South Carolina’s coast, the small town of Beaufort may seem like an unlikely venue for an international film festival, but Beaufort is fertile ground for cinema and the arts. Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, and Forces of Nature are just a few of the many major motion pictures filmed in and around Beaufort in recent years. Since 2007, the Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF), the brainchild and passion of founders Ron and Rebecca Tucker, has recognized aspiring filmmakers in all categories of cinematography.
This year, the 9th annual BIFF will be held February 11 – 15 at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort (USCB) Center for the Arts. Considered one of the fastest growing film festivals in the southeast, it was named one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World in 2013 by MovieMaker Magazine. The 2015 festival will showcase 32 independent films and seven screenplays chosen from a field of international entries—coming from places as far-flung as Rome, London, Toronto, Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and as nearby as Savannah, Columbia, Greenville, Charleston and St. Helena Island.
Among this year’s selections are some films that will be South Carolina premiers. “We’ve had a film premier and win here, then go on to screen at the Cannes Film Festival!” exclaims Ron. The 32 films to be screened at this year’s festival represent diverse storylines; here’s just a sampling:
• The Lengths, a feature film — “… It’s a love triangle turned emotional horror story.”
• Cotton Road, a documentary — “… Cotton Road follows the commodity of cotton from South Carolina farms to Chinese factories, to illuminate the work and processes in a global supply chain.”
• In an Ideal World, a documentary — “Follow three men over seven years inside a California prison as they struggle to survive and change, themselves as well as their brutal environment…”
• Grounded, an animation — “The story of a baby elephant who wants to jump like the other animals—the only problem is elephants are the only mammals who cannot (jump).”
Visit the Beaufort International Film Festival website (www.beaufortfilmfestival.com) to view the 2015 film screening schedule, read synopses of the films, and watch trailers for many of this year’s selections.
An opening-night reception at the Old Bay Marketplace Rooftop on Wednesday, February 11 will welcome filmmakers who attend the 2015 festival. The event will be a great opportunity for festivalgoers to meet the featured filmmakers and to socialize, amidst the backdrop of a garden party in the Old South, complete with hanging moss, benches and rockers.
On Thursday, February 12, a wine and cheese reception will be held at 7 p.m. at the USCB Center for the Arts before a Screenwriters Workshop and Table Read begins at 7:30 p.m. Those who attend will hear local actors read selected passages from several screenplays featured at the film festival.
On Saturday, February 14, the final evening of the festival, a star-studded cocktail hour at the USCB Center for the Arts will precede the much anticipated awards ceremony. Guests will enjoy champagne and delicious food by local chef Debbi Covington, while mingling with filmmakers, celebrities, and stars including Andie MacDowell and Pat Conroy. If history repeats itself, you may even see Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler at the soiree!
This year, award categories include Features, Documentaries, Short Films, Student Films, Screenplays, Animation, and Audience Choice. And for the first time, an award will be presented for Best Comedy. “Seven comedies will be screened at this year’s festival and everyone—including Rebecca and I—will be waiting to learn which film wins the award. That’s because the Best Comedy will be determined by the votes of audience members who attend the comedy screenings,” says Ron. At the awards ceremony, winners also will be named for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director, and two special awards will be presented—the Spirit & Pride of South Carolina and Behind the Scenes awards.
Spirit & Pride of South Carolina Award
“We are thrilled and honored to announce that movie and television star, model and native South Carolinian Andie MacDowell will be the first recipient of the newly established Spirit & Pride of South Carolina Award at the 9th annual Beaufort International Film Festival,” beams Ron. Ms. MacDowell, originally from Gaffney, S.C., will receive the award from internationally recognized best-selling author and Beaufort resident Pat Conroy. This new award recognizes a person who is native to, or who is a current resident of South Carolina and whose career achievements in the industries of film, television or music reflect positively on themselves and the state of South Carolina. Among Ms. MacDowell’s film credits are: Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Short Cuts, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Ground Hog Day.
Behind the Scenes Award
This year’s Behind the Scenes Award in Location Management will be presented to Steve Rhea, a native of Charleston, S.C. who earned a B.A. in History and a Master of Media Arts degree from the University of South Carolina. His career as a location professional spans four decades and includes more than two-dozen feature films and television movies, along with hundreds of national and international commercials and photo shoots. “Steve Rhea is best known as a feature location scout and manager whose artistic vision and intimate knowledge of the historic locales of Charleston have earned him international accolades. His lasting legacy, though, could well be his contributions to establishing a dynamic film industry in South Carolina and helping to make the state a film production center with an international reputation for excellence. He’s worked to achieve this by drawing attention to South Carolina’s talented crew base and emerging vendors, while actively recruiting and producing commercials, music videos, documentaries and catalogs,” says Ron.
A Winning Formula
The success of BIFF is not due to glitz and glamor. Ron attributes the popularity and growth of the festival to its reputation among the filmmaking community and fans.
“Filmmakers and movie fans tell us they really like the format of our festival because all of the films are screened under one roof at the USCB Center for the Arts—not at several venues like many other festivals,” Ron says. “That gives filmmakers and audiences the opportunity to see every film being presented at the festival—there’s no conflict among the various screenings. Being in one place also allows filmmakers to network with each other
and audiences, and to see their competitors’ films.”
“Our film festival offers other advantages that the filmmakers and audiences appreciate. For instance, we begin screenings of films exactly when the printed schedule says they will begin and after each screening, the filmmaker is allotted 15 minutes to interact with the audience during a question and answer session,” explains Ron.
While the number of films submitted for consideration each year has remained fairly constant at between 130 and 200, Ron says due to the growing popularity of the festival, the quality of films submitted has continually gotten higher. At the Beaufort International Film Festival, you’ll experience a diverse array of well made, thought provoking, and entertaining films and you’ll meet some filmmakers that you might not have heard about yet—but you will be hearing about them in the years to come!
2015 Beaufort International Film Festival Schedule of Events
• Wednesday, February 11: Filmmakers Opening Night Reception, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Old Bay Marketplace Rooftop.
• Thursday, February 12: Film screenings take place between 9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., when the last film will begin. Wine and Cheese Reception at the USCB Center for the Arts at 7 p.m., followed by a Screenwriters Workshop and Table Read at 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, February 13: Film screenings begin at 9 a.m., with the final film starting at 9 p.m.
• Saturday, February 14: Film screenings begin at 9 a.m., with the final film starting at 2:10 p.m. Awards Ceremony Cocktail Hour at 7 p.m. at USCB Center for the Arts (Champagne included; catered by Debbi Covington). Awards Presentation at 8 p.m. Film Festival Tickets and Beaufort Film Society Membership
You have several choices to purchase your 2015 film festival tickets (all event passes, day passes, and single film tickets, as well as special event tickets):
• Online at the BIFF website (www.beaufortfilmfestival.com)
• At Beaufort Film Society’s office located at 308 Charles St., Beaufort, S.C.,
• At the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, 713 Craven St., Beaufort, S.C.
• At the door
Joining the Beaufort Film Society (www.beaufortfilmsociety.org) has several benefits—you’ll be supporting the Beaufort International Film Festival, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; you’ll receive discounts on your film festival tickets; and you’ll enjoy discounted ticket prices to movies at the Plaza Stadium Theater in Beaufort.
Story by CAROL LAUVRAY
Story by CINDY REID
Photography by PAUL NURNBERG
It’s that time of year again. Time to get outside, soak up some sun and attend the 59th Annual Beaufort Water Festival. Although it is so well run that it may look like the events “just happen,” the festival has an all volunteer staff over 400 people, lead by the most visible face of the Annual Beaufort Water Festival, the Commodore. Meet Brandy Gray, this year’s Beaufort Water Festival Commodore.
As befitting this year’s festival theme, “A Lowcountry Tradition since 1956,” Commodore Gray has the distinct honor of being the first former Pirette to become Commodore and she is the first second generation Commodore, as her Great Uncle James “Sammy” Gray was the Commodore in 1958. She is carrying on family tradition in fine style, with unflagging energy and a full slate of exciting events lined up for another fantastic festival.
Commodore Brandy Gray sat down with Beaufort Lifestyle at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to talk about this year’s festival.
Where were you born and raised?
I am a fifth generation Port Royal girl, second generation Commodore and the first ever Pirette to become a Commodore.
Tell us about your family.
My dear husband Mickey has been an amazing supporter for the many my civic hats I wear. Our daughter, Emma LaClaire, has been right there with us all the way. I can recall being pregnant during the festival a few years back and everyone was on “Brandy Watch.” I survived one of the hottest festivals and gave birth a few weeks later!
How long have you been involved with the Beaufort Water Festival (BWF)?
More than a decade.
How did you first get involved?
I was a Pirette in 1989 and 1990, then I got asked to chair the Bed Races for a few years, then I asked what else I can do to help. I worked my way up from staff, director and eventually around the table to the coveted spot! So from 2000 until now.
Why did you continue as a volunteer with the BWF?
I was amazed at the amount of volunteers and the hard work that went into the festival. I wanted to be a part of one of the most amazing events in our community and the proud to be a member of the Water Festival family.
What is your BWF favorite memory?
One of my greatest memories was when I received my jacket with the Water Festival crest on it. The eldest living Commodore at the time was my Great Uncle James “Sammy” Gray. He put that coat on me and grinned from ear to ear. It was a very special time for our family. He passed away a few months later and I am sure he is looking down still smiling.
What is your favorite event?
I love the parade. As a child I would site on the sidewalk at the Best Western and see the floats coming down Bay Street. My grandfather was a clown with the Omar Shriners and I watched him for many years march in the parade. Our parade is a picture of how our community comes together and shines in the middle of July.
I recall many years back when Palmetto Federal/Regions had the lawn chair brigade in the parade. Their staff wore matching outfits, carried green folding chairs, had background music and marched in the parade. Then at random they would breakout into a skit. Memories like these are what make our parade so great!
Traditions play an important role in the events but the BWF stays current by adding new and exciting events from time to time. What is new or different at this year’s BWF?
We had the first ever “Paddle Battle,” a paddle boarding and kayak event in May, that was a brand new event. Salsa Tuesday is new, and we are very excited to have Son Del Coqui, a fantastic ten piece mariachi band here for that event on Tuesday July 22.
We have changed the day of the Air Show from the second Saturday to the first Saturday, so the Air Show is on July 19 this year. Also, DragonBoat Race Day has its own day this year, Saturday, July 26, with dragon boat races taking place all day.
In addition to our famous kids Toad Fishing contest on Saturday July 19; we will have the Coastal Education Expo from eleven to three with lots of interactive and informational booths to further knowledge of our beautiful low country surroundings. On Children’s Day, DNR will have a large touch tank for all the kids to enjoy.
One of the Commodore’s many tasks is to design the popular annual tee shirt. Tell us about this year’s tee shirt design.
Our vision for the t-shirts was a combination of the early years blended into our current year. William Rhett did an amazing job capturing those elements in our design. This design not only paints a picture of our history, it pays tribute to three of past commodores who pasted away this past year John Gentry, Sammy Gray and Ray Kearns. The other important tributes are the names on the boat. It is named in memory of my mom Peggy and in honor of William’s mom Nancy. This design is more than a painting, it is a symbol of our history, family, friends and our memories!!
What concerts do you have lined up for this year?
We are super excited to have two national recording artists this year. Our Concert in the Park will feature Craig Morgan and our River Dance will feature our hometown girl Marjory Lee opening for Eric Paslay. I have watched Marjory Lee over the years entertaining us in the Talent Show, to entertaining in various venues in town and on Fripp Island.
Tell our readers something they may not know about the BWF.
Our festival runs like a well oiled machine. Volunteers give up their vacations to work for ten plus days in the heat for upwards of fifteen hours a day. The Water Festival volunteers are a family that rises up for each other on a moment’s notice.
Anything else you would like our readers to know ?
Beaufort is an amazing community; the generosity of the volunteers and residents is overwhelming. We are truly fortunate to live in a town that cares so passionately about others. An overwhelming amount of support was exhibited when we assisted with the hometown event for Candice Glover. We were given a little over a week to pull off a spectacular event that would put Beaufort on the map. Volunteers came together at a moment’s notice crafting a plan to make this event happen. It is times like this that I am so very proud of my Water Festival family and our community.
Commodore Brandy Gray and her dedicated crew have lined up what is sure to be the most exciting Beaufort Water Festival ever. And in 59 years of Water Festivals, that is saying something! There are many sporting events such as horseshoe, bocce, volleyball, golf, and cornhole, badminton, and croquet tournaments taking place previous to and throughout the festival. Check the website for dates and times and for information on how to sign up.
Bring the kids and enjoy a week filled with fun, laughter and entertainment. It all happens at the 59 Annual Beaufort Water Festival!
For more information check out the Face Book page, Annual Beaufort Water Festival and visit the website
Humility is not often associated with NFL football players. The nature of their profession calls for an assertive, if not aggressive personality. But spend a few minutes talking with Ron Parker, native son of St. Helena Island, and currently an NFL player with the Seattle Seahawks and his humility comes shining through. Born and raised right here, Ron says “I spent the first five years of my life in Port Royal, and then we moved to St. Helena Island, where I grew up way down by Hunting Island.”
Ron says he had a good start in his football career at Beaufort High School. “I started as a cornerback when I was a junior, which is the position I play today, and then I was a free safety my senior year.” He says of his high school coach, Mark Clifford, “He was a really good coach. “ When asked what the most valuable lesson he learned from Coach Clifford, Ron paused and thought for a minute. Then he looked up and said determinedly, “I learned to play through adversity.”
After graduating from Beaufort High School, Ron attended a junior college, but was looking for something more. After transferring to Newberry College he found the right fit. He says, “Coach Todd Knight started me out slow my first year, and then the second year I picked it up.” Picked it up? There’s that humility. Check out Ron’s statistics from the Newberry College Athletic Department’s website….
2010: The Sporting News Preseason All-American… Lindy’s First Team Preseason All-American… Consensus Draft Services Preseason All-American… D2Football.com Preseason first team All-American…
2009: South Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Year… Don Hansen’s Football Gazette First Team All-American… D2Football.com Second Team All-American… DAKTRONICS Second Team All-American… The State Newspaper All-South Carolina… Orangeburg Touchdown Club All-South Carolina… DAKTRONICS First Team All-Super Region Two… All-South Atlantic Conference First Team… South Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Week, October 19…
At college Ron says he was “Always trying to get better. The path was cleared for me to always improve.” And today he has the same attitude, saying “I never think I am all done and can’t get better. And I like going back to Newberry and working out with the team. I like to talk to the guys and lead by example.”
Ron graduated from Newberry with a degree in Sports Management, completing his education before embarking on a pro football career. He was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks, but after his first year there, he went to the Oakland Raiders. Ron says , “It was a business decision I made at the time, but then the Seahawks exercised their ‘right’ and claimed me back in October 2011. “ He says “Seattle is good, that’s where all my brothers are at, and it is beautiful city and great place to live.”
He credits his professional success to growing up in a small town, “attending a small high school and a small college, those environments all helped me get to where I am now.” He says the biggest surprise about being in the NFL was, “Going up against the best. I couldn’t believe that I was competing against the best players, making plays on a high level.” When asked if they hit hard at that level he laughed and said, “They hit hard but that’s right up my alley!”
The Seahawks fans are famous for being loud; in fact their stadium is considered the loudest in the NFL. The fans even have their own number, homage to their passionate cheering, collectively they are known as “Number 12”. The point is to support their team of course, but also to intimidate the opposition. When asked how he handled being out there on the field in the midst of the bedlam, Ron laughed and said, “It brings me more energy and gets me ready to go!”
The Seahawks will have started training camp by the time this goes to press, which Ron says, “Feels like home.” They also have new uniforms this year (not pictured here), designed by Nike, Ron says “They are very sharp.” A relatively new team, the Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. They have made one Superbowl appearance, in 2006, but lost the game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But as every sports fan knows, every season is a new opportunity. As Ron says, “This could be our year, we have a great team, and a hungry team, and we can do it!”
No Place like Home
“I like travelling, I like being on the road but there really is no place like home” Ron says. “I definitely miss lowcountry cooking, and all the seafood.”He says the game he is most looking forward to this season is the Seahawks against the Carolina Panthers, held in North Carolina, because “It is the game that is closest to Beaufort and I will see all my friends and family there.”
Part of a close knit family, Ron says, “All of my family is here. My Dad’s side is in Port Royal and my Mom’s side is on St. Helena.” Ron’s mother, Rose Parker, works at the Lady’s Island Montessori School and his father, Ronzo Parker is a truck driver. Sister Ronique also works at the Montessori School and Ron’s identical twin brother Donald works with Ron in Seattle, helping his brother throughout the season. Ron made sure to mention his first cousin, Justin Parker, who is making a big name for himself as a linebacker at Clemson. “He really has what it takes” Ron says of Justin. “He is definitely a player to watch. So sorry Gamecock fans, I pull for Clemson!”
Wherever his career takes him, Ron says,” I would like to come back here to Beaufort because there is no place like home.”