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 the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia.
Most recently, he released A Few Things About Cancer, the story of a newlywed couple’s quarter life crisis through stage four cancer, winner of Best Documentary Short at the 2015 FirstGlance Los Angeles Film Festival. IndyRed raved, “a remarkable achievement of ‘A Few Things About Cancer,' which is stuffed with some great achievements, is its ability to tell a story we've all heard, yet keep it fresh and emotionally connected.”
His first feature film, Desires of the Heart, follows the journey of Dr. Kris Sharma (Val Lauren) as he leaves a budding romance with an artist (Alicia Minshew) in Savannah, GA for a marriage arranged by his parents in Rajasthan, India, where he discovers centuries old secrets that may determine the fate of his destiny. Desires was an official selection of numerous festivals across the United States and around the world, including the 2014 Cannes Marché du Film and was the winner of Best Foreign Film at the 2013 Los Angeles Femme Film Festival. Film Threat declared that Desires “matches its narrative’s expansive ambitions with gorgeous visions that turn both Georgia and India into almost permanent states of postcard-friendly imagery.” The Independent Critic said it is "both intelligent and fantastic…[challenging] both heart and mind with a story that is culturally grounded, somewhat mystical in nature, and yet psychologically insightful."
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, [it’s] the most unexpected horror surprise seen in quite a while.” Fotogramas, one of Europe’s leading film publications, stated that “[Followed]… return[s] the genre to progressive social commentary.”
Outside of entertainment production, Kicklighter produces the 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 AMBITION, a Los Angeles-based program that teaches entrepreneurial skills to low-income students, many of which become first-generation college graduates.
James is currently developing several films with a southern voice for producers Richard Saperstein (The Mist, Se7en) and Beau Turpin (Counterpunch), including The Perpetual State of Georgia from Casey Nelson and Kate Murdoch (The Last Treasure Hunt) and Erk, a biopic about legendary college football coach Erk Russell. Additionally, James is nearing completion on his first book, the biography of famed entertainment publicist Bobby Zarem, and recently directed the music video “Branches” for the solo debut of artist Shel Bee, debuting on iTunes and multiple platforms in August 2015.
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.”