ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The Atlanta Film Festival is celebrating its 44th year this week. The event typically brings in more than 28,000 people from all over to enjoy more than 140 films.

The festival was originally scheduled for April, but given the pandemic, gears were shifted including a switch to a drive-in format. 

The event is important for filmmakers. ATLFF is one of only 15 festivals around the world the Academy Awards uses to qualify movies to compete for its coveted prize.

“We also were going to be completely indoors, some of the screenings would have been right here in this space instead we are completely drive-in and virtual,” explained festival director Christopher Escobar.

The annual festival showcases diverse features and short films.

“The majority is independent content produced by filmmakers who submit their work and are competitively chosen. We had over 8,500 submissions and we narrow that down to 150," said Escobar.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month the festival kicked off highlighting Latinx and Georgia made films like Blast Beat. The film stars Moises Arias and his brother Mateo Arias as siblings from Colombia struggling to fit into their new lives in America.

Wilmer Valderrama, Daniel Dae Kim and Diane Guerrero are also in the film.

"More than half of the films that we’re showing at this year’s festival were directed by women, almost three quarters are directed by people of color. You have over 40 countries represented,” added Escobar.

Closing night of ATLFF features “The Glorias” also a Georgia film in honor of women filmmakers and stories.

In addition to the drive-in screenings, movie lovers can catch 127 other works virtually.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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