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Beauty In Truth: Documentary Film Festival Coming To Jacksonville In April

Jessica Palombo

If the true-crime podcast “Serial” is any indication, reality can be just as entertaining as fiction. That’s the hope, anyway, behind a new Jacksonville film festival made up entirely of documentaries.

Docs from all over the world will be screened over one weekend in Five Points in mid-April.

Festival founders Ashley McLaughlin and Elizabeth Lawrence knew it was creative love at first site when they met at a Meetup for dachshund lovers, their dog “children” in tow.

The former New Yorkers and recent Jacksonville transplants quickly discovered they had another interest in common: documentaries. Lawrence is a filmmaker herself — “I made a film called ‘Roll Out Cowboy,' and it’s about a rapping cowboy from North Dakota,” she says — and McLaughlin is a promoter who happens to love the genre.

“It’s the beauty of the documentary: It’s both fact and it’s both art,” she says.

Submissions have come from around the world.

“There’s a film that we got in that’s about female Iranian ninjas, which is really interesting,” Lawrence recalls.

It’s one of more than 800 submissions from about 60 countries. Organizers are still whittling down their selections among shorts and feature-length films.

The first-ever Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival will be held April 16 and 17 at Sun-Ray Cinema, Rain Dogs bar and other venues around Five Points. In addition to screenings, the fest will feature visual art installations and question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP