Get your Cokes and popcorn ready, it’s movie night in DeSoto County next month.

The DeSoto Arts Institute is pleased to announce the first DeSoto Film Festival is set for SouthPoint Church in Southaven on Oct. 3-5.

“We started in 2016 to teach film making, more as a way to build relationships with young people,” said Festival Director Robb Smith, also known as Robb Rokk, about the DeSoto Arts Institute. “I started to teach film making as something I was interested in. We’re using film making as a way to build relationships and demonstrate ethics, respect for each other and things like that. We have something going on here in DeSoto County and we want to impact the culture here.”

Held in the historic Southaven Cinema, the festival is designed to bring thoughtful, encouraging entertainment to families and individuals in the Mid-South as well as give exposure to filmmakers desiring to reach the widest audience of viewers; the entire family.

“We want to have a film festival that is entertainment, first and foremost,” Smith said. “We want it to be family-friendly, for the most part, and create an experience that they can come, walk the red carpet, hear filmmaking panels and discussions.”

Smith is encouraging filmmakers to take part in the festival as plans are underway to connect attendees to the filmmaker to offer written feedback on their favorites. Attendees will also be asked to rate and review their favorite films on iMDB, as well as like and follow the filmmaker’s and film’s social media accounts.

Smith knows a little bit about film making because projects he has been involved in have been acclaimed at similar festivals. Outside Arcadia is one film he has done that has received awards while being shown at more than 30 other film festivals.

“Outside Arcadia has been out a year and has played at 34 film festivals,” Smith said. “We’ve won best Sci-Fi, best Faith and Family. We’ve played at festivals around the world.”

The current SouthPoint Church facility at one time was the Southaven Cinema, where people went to watch movies. Today, there’s a spot in the church, on Stateline Road West, west of Highway 51, where weekly film classes are held.

“You can come in, film things, write, rehearse and do projects that are making it out there,” said Smith. “The DeSoto Arts Institute is in the old Laser Tag area. SouthPoint Church has been amazing in helping us out with the festival.”

The institute teaches all aspects of film making on a weekly basis for free and has since added weekly Acting Workshops in their studio space in the SouthPoint Church complex.

The festival's opening night Oct. 3 will be about drawing new filmmakers and those aspiring to make films to the festival.

“We’re hoping to have one feature per night,” Smith said. “Depending on what we get, quality will need to be very high. We’ll then stack the deck with short films. The program will be short films and features.”

The list of films will be promoted on the festival’s website, desotofilmfestival.com, as the actual date gets closer. Aspiring filmmakers may also use the website to submit films for showing. Festival passes are being sold on the website as of Sept. 10.

“We do know that Thursday night is going to be DeSoto Arts Institute Night, where we show some of our films and have some of our students talk about their experiences on set, what they learned and stuff like that,” said Festival Program Director Jesaiah Burnett.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.