The Ogeechee International History Film Festival (OIHFF) had its inaugural year in 2017. Dr. Michael Van Wagenen and Graduate Assistant Regan Everett decided to start the OIHFF in Statesboro, Georgia. The festival would become a collaboration project between the Georgia Southern University Department of History and the Statesboro Visitors and Convention Bureau (SCVB). At the time of the festival’s conception, the only festival like it was the American Historical Associations Festival which was invitational only. By having an open submission, international festival, the OIHFF allowed more ideas to flow from people who were just starting out in film.
The idea for the festival grew out of discussions that Georgia Southern University professor Michael Van Wagenen had with several history documentary filmmakers and professors. There was a growing frustration among some scholars that there was no exclusive venue in the United States for screening history documentary work. Van Wagenen is no stranger to bridging the academic field of history with film. Over the past 25 years, he has written, produced, directed, and/or edited 20 documentary films. His work has twice won highest honors at the National Education Film and Video Festival and been screened at the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and over 40 film festivals. He is also the founder and co-director of the Visual History Summer Institute at Georgia Southern University which trains historians in the theories and techniques of documentary filmmaking.