Alfie Allen, Meg Ryan and Olivia Wilde to receive honors; Festival presents “An Evening with Saoirse Ronan”; “Dixieland,” “Ithaca,” “Legend,” “Meadowland” and “Spotlight” added to Gala Screenings; Docs to Watch, Conversation series and Competition Screenings announced


SAVANNAH, Georgia — Oct. 1, 2015 – The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is pleased to announce honorees, guests and the rest of its film line-up for the 2015 Savannah Film Festival. Meg Ryan will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award; Olivia Wilde will receive the Spotlight Award; and Alfie Allen will receive a Rising Star Award. The festival will host a special “An Evening with Saoirse Ronan” following a screening of her film “Brooklyn.”  In addition, the festival will hold a Conversation Series, which will include director Marc Abraham and actress Elizabeth Olsen (“I Saw the Light”), director Catherine Hardwicke (“Miss You Already”), director Sarah Gavron and producer Alison Owen (“Suffragette”) and composer David Lang (“Youth”).  The festival will be held in downtown Savannah, Georgia, and runs from Saturday, Oct. 24 to Saturday, Oct. 31.


Alfie Allen will receive the Rising Star Award on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Allen currently stars in HBO’s smash hit series “Game of Thrones.” His film work includes “Soulboy,” “The Kid,” “Freestyle,” “Powder,” “Confine,” “Plastic,” “John Wick,” “Atonement,” “You Are Here” and “Elizabeth.”


Meg Ryan will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, Oct. 29. Her film “Ithaca,” which marks her directorial debut, will screen in the festival. Her film credits include “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Courage Under Fire,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Promised Land,” “Serious Moonlight,” “The Women,” “”In the Land of Women,” “City of Angels,” “Addicted to Love,” “French Kiss,” “Against the Ropes,” “In the Cut,” “Kate and Leopold,” “Proof of Life,” “Hurlyburly,” “I.Q.,” “Anastasia,” “Joe Versus the Volcano,” “The Doors,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” “Flesh and Bone” and “Restoration.”


Olivia Wilde will receive the Spotlight Award on Opening Night, Saturday, Oct. 24. Her film “Meadowland,” which Wilde produced and stars in, will screen at the festival and the film’s director, Reed Morano, will also attend. Wilde’s past film credits include the Oscar-winning drama “Her” and Golden Globe nominated “Rush,” among others. Wilde also executive produced and starred in the critically-acclaimed indie comedy “Drinking Buddies.” Wilde has also served as executive producer on several documentary films. Her most recent documentary short, “Body Team 12,” premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and went on to win the award for Best Documentary Short. It will screen during the Savannah Film Festival in the Documentary Shorts Competition. In early 2016, Wilde will return to television with the highly-anticipated rock ’n’ roll drama “Vinyl” for HBO. She previously starred on FOX’s hit medical drama “House.”




The festival hosts a Conversation Series, which are moderated discussions with directors, actors and below-the-line whose films are receiving awards attention.


“An Evening with Saoirse Ronan” will take place on Sunday, Oct. 25 following a screening of the Fox Searchlight film “Brooklyn.” Ronan is best known for her starring role in the feature film “Atonement,” directed by Joe Wright, in which she starred opposite Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. Ronan was 13 years old when she earned an Oscar nomination as well as Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for the critically-acclaimed performance. Her other roles include “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Stockholm, Pennsylvania,” “Lost River,” “The Host,” “Justin and the Knights of Valour,” “How I Live Now,” “Byzantium,” “Hanna,” The Way Back” and “The Lovely Bones.” She is currently in production on the movie adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” directed by Michael Mayer. In 2016, she will make her stage debut in “The Crucible” on Broadway. She will star as Abigail Williams opposite Ben Wishaw, Sophie Okonedo and Tavi Gevinson.


Also featured in the series will be director Sarah Garvon and producer Alison Owen following a screening of opening night film "Suffragette" on Saturday, Oct. 24; producer/actress Olivia Wilde and director Reed Morano following a screening of opening night film "Meadowland" on Saturday, Oct. 24; actress Riley Keogh following a screening of "Dixieland" on Sunday, Oct. 25; actor Tab Hunter following a screening of “Tab Hunter Confidential” and composer David Lang following a screening of "Youth" on Monday, Oct. 26; director Catherine Hardwicke following a screening of her new film "Miss You Already" on Tuesday, Oct. 27; director/producer/writer James Sadwith on Thursday, Oct. 29 following a screening of "Coming Through the Rye"; and director Marc Abraham and actress Elizabeth Olsen following a screening of "I Saw the Light" on Saturday, Oct. 31.




The following gala screenings have been added to the line-up.


"Dixieland" - Two star-crossed lovers — a young, recently-released and unpredictable ex-con with bad luck, and a sexy, listless girl-next-door with a troubled family — become trapped in a downward spiral of crime and obsessive love as they try to ditch their dead-end town for a better life. A contemporary, low-down story set in the hot lazy days of modern day Mississippi, "Dixieland" is Hank Bedford’s feature debut about love and lawlessness but also about the reality of poverty and violence. The film is distributed by IFC Films. Director: Hank Bedford. Cast: Chris Zylka, Riley Keough, Faith Hill and RJ Mitte.


“Ithaca” – In Meg Ryan’s directorial debut, 14-year-old Homer Macauley is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister and his 4-year-old brother, Ulysses. And so it is that as spring turns to summer, 1942, Homer Macauley delivers messages of love, hope, pain...and death...to the good people of Ithaca. And Homer Macauley will grapple with one message that will change him forever. The film is distributed by The Exchange. Director: Meg Ryan. Cast: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard, Jack Quaid, Melanie Griffith, Alex Neustaedter and Christine Nelson.


“Legend” – From Academy Award® winner Brian Helgeland comes the true story of the rise and fall of London's most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ron Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in an amazing double performance. “Legend” is a classic crime thriller taking us into the secret history of the 1960s and the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray twins. The film is distributed by Universal Pictures. Director: Brian Helgeland. Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald and Taron Egerton.


“Meadowland” – Set in the hazy aftermath of an unimaginable loss, where married couple Sarah and Phil come unhinged, recklessly ignoring the repercussions. The directorial debut of cinematographer Reed Morano, “Meadowland” is a visceral exploration of grief and hope. The film is distributed by Cinedigm. Director: Reed Morano. Cast: Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Elisabeth Moss, Ty Simpkins, John Leguizamo, Kevin Corrigan and Merritt Wever.


“Spotlight” – The riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delve into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. The film is distributed by Open Road Films. Director: Tom McCarthy. Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci.




Launched last year, the Docs to Watch series returns, focusing exclusively on nine of the top must-see documentaries from this year, as well as those gaining award season attention. Attending guests will participate in a Q&A for their respective films. The directors from each of the documentaries will join a panel moderated by Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter to be held on Sunday, Oct. 25.


Expected to attend are director Asif Kapadia (“Amy”); directors Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon (“Best of Enemies”); director Bobcat Goldthwait (“Call Me Lucky”); director Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land”); director Kirby Dick (“The Hunting Ground”); directors Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel (“Meet the Patels”); director Liz Garbus (“What Happened, Miss Simone”); Evgeny Afineevsky (“Winter on Fire”); and director Crystal Moselle (“The Wolfpack”). Both Liz Garbus and Kirby Dick are previous Academy Award nominees in the Best Documentary category. Morgan Neville received the Best Documentary Academy Award for “Twenty Feet from Stardom.”




The Signature Series features a curated selection of premiere films ranging from documentaries and animation to narrative features from around the world. Each of the screenings will conclude with an in-depth discussion with representatives of the film.           


Screenings will include “Coming Through the Rye,” The Weather Channel's Exclusive Documentary "Dead of Winter: The Donner Party," “Ek Harzarchi Note (1000 Rupee Note),” “He Named Me Malala,” “Jasmine,” “Krisha,” “Mia Madre,” “One Day in Auschwitz,” “Return to Nuke ‘Em High: Vol. 2,” “Son of Saul,” “Tab Hunter Confidential,” “The Prophet” and “Touched with Fire.”



As part of the annual competition screening event, 85 films will match up in the categories of narrative features and documentary features, along with animated shorts, documentary shorts, historical shorts, professional shorts, student shorts, supershorts and World Shorts Australia. The films selected will compete to win more than $80,000 in cash and prizes.


Documentary narratives include “Becoming Bulletproof,” “Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play,” “Containment,” “Frame by Frame” and “The Penguin Counters.”


Feature competition films include “Embers,” “Forward. Side. Close!,” “Papa,” “Scout” and “Tumbledown.”


Jury members for the contest include Diane Connors (VP of Special Events, Walt Disney Pictures), June Dowad (VP, Sandra Marsh & Associates), Jody Gottlieb (Director of Development, Vulcan Productions) and Leonard Maltin (film critic.