Thousands of miles couldn’t stop Summer Peacher and husband Brian from establishing one of the town’s most culturally stimulating events of the year. The Charleston International Film Festival, a non-profit organization known as CIFF, began as a dream for a California girl with a Southern draw. Literally. Summer and Brian impressively started the event six years ago while living and working in Los Angeles. Some people are just good like that, I guess.
A Charleston native, Brian Peacher worked with Summer on the Beverly Hills Film Festival in California. He suggested they start a film festival in the low country, even though she had never set foot in the Holy City. Summer worked for the Beverly Hills Film Festival for 4 years and also worked to with other huge events including the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, and MTV Awards to name a few. “I had never been to Charleston but loved the idea of molding something great in a beautiful place like Charleston,” said Summer. “I took what I learned from working and being at other festivals and built and molded it for the local audience.”
On top of creating an avenue for filmmakers and fans of the big screen, they manage to stand as a platform for different charities including Yo Art, Hearts of Hope Foundation, Yoga Benefits Kids, Polaris Project, and Louie’s Kids. “We have a voice, so we like to support others by helping them,” Summer continues. While the festival has grown tremendously since it’s beginning, they cannot run on praise and high fives alone. Sponsors and private donations are what makes this event happen and are always welcome.
So what makes CIFF stand out from other film festivals on the East Coast? “Our focus is on the filmmakers and ensuring that they not only have incredible venues to showcase their hard work, but also resources that we can help provide that they may not have had access to otherwise,” states Summer. “We host informative discussion panels of industry-working people to educate filmmakers on the state of film in our region and on the national level. We host educational workshops on different aspects of filmmaking. And we are forging a partnership with an internationally used crowd-sourcing site to help filmmakers raise money and awareness about their film projects. Finally, for our attendees, we’re as much about the festive side as we are about film and we know how to throw a good party.”
Going on it’s sixth year, Summer and Brian’s vision has been to create and make CIFF the premiere film festival on the East Coast. “I love film festivals. Having worked in the entertainment industry for many years and putting in all the time I did while working at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, I grew a deep appreciation for the business and the festival scene,” said Summer. “When the opportunity came up to start something of my own, I jumped on it. Each year gets better and better and I have never looked back. I have been in all areas of the business and making a film and getting to showcase it to the world is a wonderful thing. We show films that people wouldn’t see anywhere else and we hope to touch every emotion while doing so.”
For more information in getting involved with the Charleston International Film Festival, visit www.charlestoniff.org.