Programmer Profile: Paula Martinez of the Atlanta Film Festival

I hadn't planned to post two programmers from one festival, especially not back-to-back, but Fridays are normally pretty low traffic and I like the different perspectives on the same festival. It is also important to note that there are always several opinions in an organization that matter when it comes to festival programming. So please, Friday readers - enjoy this alternate take on the Atlanta Film Festival from Paula Martinez. Paula MartinezMy name: Paula Martinez

My current festival: Atlanta Film Festival

My title: Managing Director/Festival Producer

Other fests I've worked for: Out On Film

Movies that best represent my personal tastes: Half-Nelson, Office Space, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and my guilty pleasure movie - Benny & Joon

When I'm not watching movies I like to: Travel, listen to music.

A movie I recently programmed that I consider to be a great personal discovery: WE FUN. This movie has so much character and I was so excited about it as I was screening it. It has a lot of Atlanta and Athens bands in it, but it's really transferable to any city - or indie music centric areas.

When filmmakers ask me "What's different about your film festival?" I say: We're all inclusive. We include LGBTQ programming each year into our festival (called Pink Peach) and issue an award. We also tend to spotlight a specific program each year. Last year we spotlighted Mexican cinema. This year will be another. Since Atlanta is such an eclectic city, our programming mirrors that. There is truly something for everyone.

Our festival audience has come to expect: Great movies, original films, emerging voices, good parties, excellent networking opportunities with artists/filmmakers.

We program the following categories of films: All categories. We are an Academy Award OscarĀ® qualifying festival for narrative, animated and student shorts. We also screen some works in progress - Make-out With Violence premiered at our festival two years ago as a partial work-in-progress.

A recent trend I have noticed in submissions of which I disapprove: We give everyone a fair shot through the submission process. All of our films that get submitted get watched at least twice before the final selections are made. Festivals that use in "pay to play" tactics are exploiting filmmakers and doing a disservice to audiences. Open submissions with a fair process makes festival submissions a truly democratic process.

If I could impart one thing to filmmakers about submitting to my festival, it would be: Don't include a bunch of press kits or anything other than the movie when submitting. Most of the time everything else goes into the recycling bin - save yourself some money. Be sure to follow the submission directions on Withoutabox - label your movie appropriately - name, tracking number, etc. Please read everything about submitting on Withoutabox - most of the time all of the answers to your questions are listed there.

The submissions period for our next festival is: Our submissions are currently open and the final deadline to submit is December 18, 2009. We usually open our call for entries in August and run it through December.

Filmmakers can contact me here: - also, our festival programmer is Dan Krovich and you can reach him at The office phone number is 404-352-4225.

Last words: I don't want people to think I'm the programmer. I produce the festival but Dan Krovich is the ultimate programmer for our festival - although we all watch and fight for our favorites.