Spending the first eighteen years of his life in Bellville, Georgia, population 123, James Kicklighter has become a multi-award winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by leading film publications around the world, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India and FilmInk Australia.
In time for his twenty-fifth birthday, his first feature film, Desires of the Heart, was an official selection of the 2014 Cannes Marché du Film and winner of Best Foreign Film at the 2013 Los Angeles Femme Film Festival. An international crossover film from writer/producer Solila Parida (Vishkanya), Desires is the story of Dr. Kris Sharma (Val Lauren, Interior. Leather. Bar., Sal) a psychiatrist from India practicing in Savannah, Georgia when he meets Madeline (Alicia Minshew, “All My Children”), a local artist with a mysterious past. As their relationship begins to blossom in America, Kris is summoned home by his brother (Gulshan Grover, I Am Kalam) to marry the woman chosen by his parents. But as he begins to make decisions about his future, he discovers centuries old secrets that may seal the fate of his destiny. Principal photography took place in Savannah, GA and Bikaner, India.
Film Threat raved, “[Desires of the Heart] matches its narrative’s expansive ambitions with gorgeous visions that turn both Georgia and India into almost permanent states of postcard-friendly imagery. Val Lauren and Alicia Minshew…succeed in their performances, keeping a tale that can be somewhat fantastical grounded in a sense of reality. It’s a strong film.”
Previously, Ain’t it Cool News said of Followed, his adaptation of the Zombie short story from Hugo Award winner Will McIntosh, “[is] an entirely new and refreshing take on the zombie genre…directed with a delicate and gentle hand, Followed is probably the most unexpected horror surprise I’ve seen in quite a while.” Fotogramas, one of Europe’s leading film publications, declared that “[Followed]… return[s] the genre to progressive social commentary.”
He is currently developing several films with a southern voice, including Erk, a biopic about legendary college football coach Erk Russell for producers Richard Saperstein (The Mist, Se7en), Beau Turpin (Counterpunch) and Catherine Paura (Joyful Noise) and Escaping Bellview, a coming-of-age film about the transition from childhood to adolescence.
Outside of entertainment production, Kicklighter produced the 2014 ad campaign for the National Student Leadership Conference, profiling the most influential leaders in America, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, Director of Operations for the U.S. Peace Corps, amongst others. He also works with In True Fashion, the non-profit side of JAMAH Handbags, carried by Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Bill Clinton. The Los Angeles-based program builds self-esteem and work ethic in low-income students.
He serves on the Advisory Board for the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University, his alma mater, where he was recently chosen out of over 30,000 living graduates to be listed on the inaugural “40 Under 40 Alumni” for “impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors.”