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Write On!

by aec

Young Southern Writers Awards.jpg"It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing." -Rosemarie Rossetti

On April 12, AEC will honor 472 students for their achievements in creative writing. With the support of families and teachers in the audience, students will walk onto the Tivoli Theatre stage to receive a medal and be recognized for their works in poetry and prose.

The festivities are all part of the AEC's annual Young Southern Student Writers program, a writing initiative for grades K-12. Each December, students are invited to submit their original works of prose and poetry to be judged by members of the UT-Chattanooga English Department. Winners are selected based on creativity, content and style.

The program has grown exponentially since it started in 1999 as an outreach program of the AEC Conference on Southern Literature. Over 5,000 students from more than 70 area schools entered the 2011 competition, up from 500 entries the first year. The increased participation over the years led AEC to hold the program annually (instead of biennially during each literary conference) and break the awards ceremony up into two separate events for elementary winners and middle and high school winners.

"It is the commitment of Chattanooga area teachers that has made the Young Southern Student Writers program so successful," says Dr. Verbie Prevost, who serves as chairperson of the program and Head of the UT-Chattanooga English Department. "These teachers want to find ways to encourage their students to write, and they want their good writers to receive recognition."

The program also allows students to find their writing "niche" and make connections between their own writing processes and that of a real author. Like published authors, students must first select the most appropriate work for the competition. Then, with help from their language arts teachers, they go through the revision process, editing several drafts before submitting the final piece. AEC even designed the medals to resemble the official medals worn by the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Writers.

"Being recognized and rewarded for their hard work allows students to see themselves as a real author," says Dr. Prevost. "It is our hope that this encouragement inspires the students to pursue becoming even better writers."

Q&A;: The AEC Independent Film Series

by aec

With the Spring Independent Film Series right around the corner, we'd like to answer some of the most commonly-asked questions and solve a few mysteries about this long-running AEC program (such as, why the start date is still TBA!)

Q: How are films chosen?
A. An all-volunteer committee gathers at the AEC office approximately 6 weeks prior to each series. They bring research on the latest independent and foreign language films, along with community feedback, critics' reviews and release dates. The list is narrowed down to the Top 25 films, which is then submitted to Carmike Cinemas' booking department in Columbus, GA. Carmike then narrows the list down to the final 12 that will be featured in the series.

Q. What determines which films make the final cut?
A. Several factors determine Carmike's selection process, including a film's distribution, availability, format, and release date. Sometimes a film is already booked in Chattanooga, at either the Majestic or another theatre in the area.

Q. Why is the series date and schedule announced at the last minute?
A. Once the committee's top 25 is sent to Carmike, the process is in Carmike's hands. Some films are easier to book than others, and we might have confirmed films but no dates. We strive to communicate any news and updates as quickly and efficiently as possible. Facebook and Twitter have made it easier to get news out as soon as it's available, and we also utilize our email list and website.

Q. What is the purpose of the AEC Film Club Card?
A. The AEC Film Card supports the series by serving as its only source of revenue. It is widely perceived that AEC receives part of all of the ticket revenue from the movie-goers, but that is not the case. Instead, 100% of the proceeds from the $15 Film Club card benefits the film series, and the purchaser benefits from discounts on movies, restaurants, retailers and arts attractions.

Q. Why can't the film series happen year-round?
A. Part of the AEC's long-standing agreement with Carmike was that films would only show for 12 weeks in the fall and 12 weeks in the summer. Our breaks fall during the Blockbuster-heavy holiday and summer seasons. The Back Row Film Series was AEC's solution to filling in the summer gap.

Q. How can I get more involved with the Film Series?
A. We always welcome new members to our planning committee, which meets twice a year. We also welcome your suggestions and feedback at anytime during the year. The best way to support the series is to 1) buy a film card or make a donation to the AEC and 2) attend the films and invite your family, friends and co-workers to come along!

The AEC Independent Film Series is part of AEC's mission to enrich the Chattanooga community through innovative artistic events. If you have additional questions we did not answer, feel free to join the conversation and post them here!