Sun and Sand Festival needs its music back

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With the conclusion of the Sun and Sand Film and Music Festival, organizers say they've decided one thing.

"I think we're going to go back to last year's format. I think we're going to bring the music back in like we always thought we needed to have," said organizer Wes Benton.

Benton said while the film portion was a success, it didn't draw-in enough people and many don't know what they missed.

"Guys, you missed a great bunch of movies here. This was an opportunity to come in and see films that you're probably not going to see down the road."

Benton said more than 200 films were submitted to be viewed at the festival, but only 60 made the cut.

The festival drew in big names like Eric Thompson who helped make the Twilight series.

He came from Los Angeles and feels this festival is underrated.

"The film community needs to find the festival," said Thompson.

"Right now, this is the premier festival and just, you know if you have to get in the car and drive and save your gas money, you should get down here."

Actors like Ash Taylor, who worked beside James Franco in the film, "As I Lay Dying" said he travels a lot with his career and thinks the talent, ability and location are all in the Magnolia State.

"What better venue to show off those stories even if they're not going to be major blockbuster stories?" asked Taylor.

"Mississippi should be a place where you are able to hear those and see those played out on a screen."

Ward Emling, Director of Mississippi Film Office says this year's festival was overlooked, a mistake by many.

"People missed some good films, and more than that, they missed the opportunity to talk to an actor or talk to the producer or director of the film," said Emling.

While this year's festival may not have been as great as organizers hoped, they say they're not finished with their work here in South Mississippi.

"Look forward to working on next year," said Benton.

The film winners for the festival are as follows:

Best Documentary: "Lion Ark": Director/Writer: Tim Phillips and Jane Creamer

Best Feature: "Spring Eddy": Director: George Anson

Best Short: "Subway Silk": Director and writer: Jill Clark, Writer

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