It would be entirely forgivable if Ron and Rebecca Tucker had some doubts.
A year after the Beaufort International Film Festival broke all of its own records for attendance, it faced its biggest challenge – putting on a live festival in an unfamiliar venue with COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.
But instead of crumbling, the film festival, in its 15thedition, may have had one of its biggest successes.
By the time the festival closed Friday night, the Tuckers, who run the festival via the Beaufort Film Society, were at ease.
“It was great. Compared to previous years, we expected the attendance not to be what it previously was. But we didn’t know what to expect,” Ron Tucker said. “But it went well, all in all. The filmmakers were very complimentary that we took the leap of faith, and we protected them while they were here. Reviews we’ve gotten have been positive.”
There were some clear differences from last year.
Since the festival couldn’t be held at the USC Beaufort Center for the Arts, Tabby Place had to be converted into an art-house theater, “a miracle in itself,” according to Ron Tucker.
That’s 180 available seats per viewing compared to the norm of 470. Last year, average attendance was 411.This year, the festival averaged about 75 percent capacity. And it wasn’t just COVID. There were weather considerations, as well.
“It was the first time in 15 years it’s rained every single day,” Ron Tucker said.
But all things considered, he was happy with the attendance.
“We had a very small number of locals,” Tucker said. “The majority (of the attendees) came from out of town.”
And 75 percent capacity wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Tucker made an effort not to oversell the event. He didn’t even do radio ads. Having too many people show up would have actually been a worse scenario than empty seats.
And the participating filmmakers understood, providing the Tuckers with good reviews of the event.
“Hopefully, (other film festivals) will follow suit,” Ron Tucker said. “The warmth of an audience, it meant the world to (the filmmakers).
All in all, this year’s film festival was better than Tucker expected.
“In a lot of ways it was the most fun festival we’ve had,” Tucker said.
The 16thBeaufort International Film Festival will be held Feb. 22-27, 2022.
15th Beaufort International Film Festival Winners
Beaufort Film Society Volunteer of the Year: Bonnie Krstolic, Beaufort
Best Feature: Shot Through the Wall, directed by Aimee Long, Los Angeles
Best Documentary (Feature): Invitation to the Dance, directed by Sarah Shoemaker, Greenville, S.C.
Best Documentary (Short): ProDogTV, directed by Randall Owens, Greenville, S.C.
Best Short Film: Hallways and Doors, directed by J.P. Brennan, Los Angeles
Best Student Film: The Punishment, directed by Chris Sexton Fletcher, Bradenton, Fla. (Screen Academy of Scotland)
Best Comedy: One Moment, directed by Deidre O’Connor, New York
Best Animation: Two Different Kinds Of Love, directed by Alyce Vest, Oak Island, N.C.
Best Screenplay: Amira, written by Bob Celli, New York
Best Actress: Cooper Shaw, Los Angeles (Hallways and Doors)
Best Actor: Danny Aiello, New York (posthumously) (One Moment)
Best Director: Chris White, Greenville, S.C. (Electric Jesus)
Audience Choice: The Girl Who Wore Freedom, directed by Christian Taylor, Chicago
Duty & Honor: The Girl Who Wore Freedom, directed by Christian Taylor, Chicago
Susan A. K. Shaffer Humanitarian Award: Thoughts & Prayers, directed by Hope Ballard, Denver