Summer Howell, co-writer/assistant director of “83 Days” – joined by the movie’s producer, Lucius Baston, and writer Ray Brown – gives a shout of joy when the film wins Best Short Film at the ME Film Awards Ceremony.

By Shannon Sneed
The Eatonton Messenger
May 2, 2019

Eatonton-filmed movie “83 Days” took home awards for Best Short Film and Best Score at the Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival held last week.

The sixth annual ME Film Fest kicked off in Eatonton at The Plaza Arts Center on April 23, where elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen of Putnam County joined filmmakers from all over the world attending the red carpet premier of the movie.

Janet Sills and Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who portrays Judge Witherspoon in the movie “83 Days,” walk the Red Carpet before the premier.

The 1940s sheriff’s car used in the production of the film, which was provided by Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, was parked near the entrance of The Plaza, where the classic automobile was used as a prop for photographs.

The small crowd gathered in The Plaza theater to watch the powerful film based on the story of George Stinney Jr., the youngest person in history to be put to death by electric chair at the age of just 14 years. After showing the film, its creators took to the stage for questions from the audience.

Writer/Producer of “83 Days,” Ray Brown escorts his daughter to the premier of his award-winning short film.

Filmed over a three-day period at Tytan Pictures prison studio, Step Back, the Putnam County Courthouse, and The Eatonton Messenger, much of the film was cast locally. That includes Sills as Judge Witherspoon and Gavin White as Willie Stinney.

Written by Ray Brown and Summer Howell and directed by Andrew Howell, the short had already won several awards at other film festivals before winning at the ME Film Fest.

Throughout the six-day festival, event coordinators held workshops and viewings of other nominated films before hosting an elegant awards dinner.

Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival Founder/Board Chairman Jeremiah Bennett awards Louis Gossett Jr. the Lifetime Achievement Award for the numerous contributions the Academy Award-winning actor has made to the film industry.

“We received a record number of submissions this year,” said Jeremiah Bennett, ME Film Festival founder and board chairman. Bennett noted that the festival received more than 500 submissions from 35 different countries.

At the Friday evening ceremony, Milledgeville city council members named Saturday, April 27, 2019, Louis Gossett Jr. Day in Milledgeville before the acclaimed actor was honored by the festival board with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tytan post-production supervisor Ryan Castillo and designer Rachel Aslaksen of “83 Days” are all smiles at the red carpet event.
Putnam County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Roddie Anne Blackwell, Membership Manager Brooke Barrett and Tourism/Events Coordinator Hayley Chandler pose in front of the Film Eatonton logo printed on the red-carpet backdrop.
Local leaders Putnam County Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Webster, Tytan CFO Walt Rocker III, Rebecca Rocker, Sheri_ Howard Sills, former BOC Chairman Tom Thompson and Mayor Walt Rocker Jr. arrive at The Plaza Arts Center for the showing of the Eatonton-filmed movie.