Love will be in the air next year when the first-ever Paris International Film Festival takes place April 17-19.

The three-day event is expected to include feature films, shorts and documentaries promoting love among people of diverse backgrounds while focusing on building Paris as a film production destination.

Hollywood producer and festival co-director Noor Naghmi talked about the love-themed festival and his dream of making Paris a film-making capital following a Tuesday night meeting of the Paris Texas Film Office board of directors.

Earlier in the day, screenwriter/director Lisa Mikitarian spoke at Kiwanis Club about plans for the newly-formed Paris Texas Film Office with its headquarters in the former Westinghouse/Philips Lighting building on Clarksville Street owned by Paris cardiologist Dr. A.J. Hashmi and made available to the film group for a full-fledged production studio and office.

“I am glad to assist in whatever can be done to help the city,” Hashmi said after Tuesday night’s board meeting about providing the 36,000-square-foot building, which he also plans to use as a training facility for a rehabilitated Clarksville hospital. “I am extremely pleased with the film festival plans, and if we get outside funds to support the film office, I think it will be awesome.”

Now that the Paris Texas Film Office is official, Naghmi said he would be making contacts with outside sources to help raise funds for both the film festival and the film office.

“There is no doubt,” Naghmi said about outside funding to supplement fundraising efforts locally. “Making Paris a film capital is my dream, and I hope to retire here someday.”

In March, when Naghmi came to Paris to share his dream, the producer said he fell in love with the downtown Plaza when he was here during a January 2017 visit to film Hashmi for “Angels Within,” an Oscar-qualifying documentary about Pakistani doctors serving in rural America.

“The architecture, the buildings, the town square all are so beautiful,” Naghmi said then. “Hollywood producers are searching for places like this.”

At the Tuesday Kiwanis Club meeting, Mikitarian shared plans for the newly organized Paris Texas Film Office to include not only film festivals but to potentially partner with Paris Junior College to develop film production-related courses and to facilitate a Paris Film Club for high school students to learn skills. Mikitarian and her husband, Sam Mikitarian, are in the process of moving to Paris where she will direct the efforts of the film office.

At the Tuesday night meeting, the film office board of directors approved a charter and bylaws and named Naghmi as CEO and co-director of the film festival while naming Mikitarian film office director and film festival co-director along with Rizma Hashmi as film festival program manager. All positions are on a volunteer basis as are board members and newly elected officers James Wyatt, president; Edwin Pickle, vice president; Ashlea Helms-Mattoon, secretary; and John Brockman, treasurer.

Wyatt expressed excitement about the beginning of something he said “opens up new opportunities for Paris.”

“It’s one of those things you think can’t really happen here in Paris, Texas, but we are well on our way now,” Wyatt said. “We have the support of the community from discussions we have had as well as from outside the community.”

Wyatt said film festivals tend to draw outside corporate and private contributions.

“Film festivals tend to attract sponsorships we might not see otherwise,” he said. “There are a lot of corporate sponsors who will look at film festivals because it seems to serve a different crowd. It opens up a new avenue for funding to come into the community.”

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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