Hosted by the Film Society of Little Rock, Chris Cranford promises this year’s Fantastic Cinema and Craft Beer Festival offers a variety of independent and foreign films that will impress and entertain.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Rett Peek
In this digital age of entertainment, nearly any movie can be seamlessly streamed online from the comfort of home. This convenience can cause independent films to be overlooked, but organizations like the Film Society of Little Rock are helping to assure these films are enjoyed and celebrated.
Chris Cranford, partner in Cranford Co. and board chairman of the Film Society, remembers the home video boom during the 1980s. Almost every day after school he would frequent the store That’s Entertainment in Little Rock. “It was paradise,” Chris recounts. “I’d devour an entire filmmaker’s output like Alfred Hitchcock.” Despite increased viewing opportunities of Hollywood blockbusters, he believes, “There is still a need for curation and access to independent and foreign films.” He attended the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and a worked in L.A. and New York before returning to the Capital City.
Chris recognizes the Film Society’s significant role in the culture of Central Arkansas. “It brings exposure to some fun, interesting and artistic films—and to me it is still important to experience some films in a theater. It’s a communal experience that in many cases makes the films even better when you can laugh and shriek and cry with others around you.”
The Film Society will host its third annual Fantastic Cinema and Craft Beer Festival in May. Chris remembers when Film Society Executive Director Tony Taylor solicited Cranford Co., a full-service advertising agency, for branding and graphic support. “I saw how beneficial it was for Little Rock to have a dedicated film society and everyone agreed to help support it.”
As board chairman, Chris provides leadership and advocacy for the Film Society’s mission fulfillment work – to promote the appreciation of a diverse selection of independent film and digital media as an art form in the state of Arkansas. “That includes our two festivals – Fantastic Cinema and Kaleidoscope – as well as monthly screenings and educational opportunities like the free Shoot on Film symposium sponsored by Kodak,” Chris adds.
Chris promises this year’s Fantastic Cinema and Craft Beer Festival will be a fun time. “We will screen a bunch of unique genre films and you’re sure to see something you didn’t quite expect, which to me is always a great experience. Composer Alan Howarth will be doing a live performance of some of his classic film scores. We’re planning a retro arcade. And Little Rock is so lucky to have so many great craft beer breweries. You can’t go wrong with an afternoon sampling delicious beer and watching some films.”
The films are not ones you can catch on Netflix, Chris reiterates, noting his favorite film from last year, The Fits, was fresh from a screening at Sundance. “It’s called a genre festival, but that doesn’t mean it’s just horror films or sci-fi or fantasy. It’s called ‘Fantastic’ because it encompasses many genres. I saw films last year that I would have a hard time putting into just one genre category. So come out and see something different, maybe shocking, maybe funny, but definitely different from the latest comic book movie coming out of Hollywood.”