Galveston is known for a lot of things – its sunny beaches, beautiful Victorian homes, vibrant downtown historic district and laid-back residents.

Island native Sherrill Hilton is taking the city’s diversity to another level with the first annual Galveston Island Film Festival and Conference (GIFF-CON), set for Oct. 5-7 at various venues.

“We’re an international film festival, and for people from Galveston County and all over the world have submitted their films so their voices can be heard,” she said. “We want voices of every walk of life and from everywhere to be heard.”

For three days, Galveston will be bustling as filmmakers, Hollywood executives, producers and stars soak in the sights and sounds of the island, and attend screenings and panel discussions.

The conference will cover just about every aspect of the film industry landscape, from distribution deals, to production incentives, and partnering with the Texas Film Commission.

A major goal of the conference is to assist filmmakers in choosing Galveston as a prime location for future movie projects. To that end, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the island on trolleys, golf carts and shuttles.

“Galveston is unique for being a coastal island, so the weather here is pleasing, and you have a lot more versatility in venues,” said Hilton, 48, a director, producer, dancer and choreographer. She returned to Galveston last year after working 15 years in the Hollywood entertainment industry.

“We want to spotlight diverse up-and-coming filmmakers,” Hilton said. “With our film festival, we want to complement the island’s other major events, like Mardi Gras-Galveston, the Lone Star Rally, Dickens on the Strand and the Historic Homes Tour.”

Tapping her Hollywood connections, Hilton has enlisted a panel of judges to select the winning films in six genres: drama, action, comedy, fantasy/sci-fi, inspirational and musical/dance.

The festival’s celebrity ambassadors are actor/writer/producer Michael DeLorenzo of “New York Undercover” fame and actor Antonio Fargas, known for his roles in 1970s blaxploitation movies, as well as his portrayal of Huggy Bear in the 1970s series “Starsky and Hutch.”

GIFF-CON also will highlight the importance of diversity in the film industry, Hilton said.

“The festival will address issues of integration, diversity and new technology in the entertainment industry,” she said. “It will provide a platform for aspiring creators who are not yet in the mainstream, but use their unique voices to express their artistic points-of-view.”

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