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Showcasing the Beauty and Complexity of Appalachia: The Boone Docs Film Festival returns to App Theatre on February 25

BOONE, N.C. – The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country announces that the Boone Docs Film Festival jury has selected 12 thought-provoking and compelling documentary shorts reflecting on and celebrating life in the Appalachian region. The festival will be held at the historic venue in Boone, N.C. from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, 2023. In addition to the films being screened, the event also includes Q&A with filmmakers, plus the announcement of the “Jury’s Choice” and “Audience Choice” award winners.

“Bright Morning Stars” – Directed & Filmed by Ethan Payne

Boone Docs Film Festival, a celebration of Appalachia, is a collaboration between the Appalachian Theatre and Appalachian State University faculty Beth Davison, Tom Hansell and Anne Ward. Subjects of the documentary shorts selected for the festival include luthiers, veterans, musicians, farmers, Cherokee elders, Junaluska matriarchs, protesters, Greek restauranteurs in Birmingham, ways to protect wildlife from interstate traffic along the Pigeon River Gorge, and rock climbers seeking to ascend “the inner mounting flame.”

“These documentaries reflect the fact that there is not one single story that reflects this region. The Appalachian region is an incredibly diverse place, and this festival celebrates those who live and work in Appalachia,” said Tom Hansell, professor of Appalachian Studies and one of the organizers of the festival.

“Alchemy” – Directed & Filmed by Bridgett Fitzgerald

A pre-festival Boone Docs event will be held at the Blowing Rock Art History Museum from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 9 to screen the two award-winning films from last year’s inaugural festival: Jury’s Choice award winner “Bright Morning Stars: The Johnsons of Hemphill,” directed by Thomas Payne (who also has a film in this year’s festival); and Audience Choice award winner “Alchemy,” directed Bridget Fitzgerald.

The 12 documentary shorts selected to be screened in the 2023 Boone Docs Film Festival are:

● “Brothers Like These” directed by Ross Kauffman, with former North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti serving as an advisor – a group of veterans dealing with PTSD find profound healing by writing about their trauma after years of suffering.

● “Environmental Defense Fund” by Lloyd Productions. A collaboration between the Environmental Defense Fund and NC A&T University, this film looks at farmers who have adopted climate-resilient farming practices.

● “Inner Mounting Flame” by Andrew Kornylak – the story of Watauga County climbing legend Mike Stam and his second quest to climb the High Country bouldering “test piece” – the Inner Mounting Flame.

● “Junaluska” by Artemis Independent/Boonies Productions – a documentary short that tells the story of a little known but mighty Black community established in Boone, North Carolina in the late 1800s. This story includes historical images, audio clips and interviews with matriarchs and community pillars Roberta Jackson and Sandy Hagler. Executive produced by Selena Lauterer and Kelly Davis.

● “Linda & Henry” by Rebecca Branson Jones – documenting the love story of Linda & Henry, now in their 51st year of marriage and Henry’s 60th year of playing fiddle.

● “Mountain Banjo Luthiers” by Jesse Barber – this film focuses on two mountain banjo luthiers in Watauga County and talks about the continuation of the craft.

● “No Such Right: The End of Roe in Appalachia” – produced by four teenagers as part of the Appalachian Media Institute – this reflects the filmmakers’ search for answers in the wake of the Dobbs ruling and documents Dobbs protests in Kentucky and West Virginia.

● “ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)” by Brit Hensel – filmed on the Qualla Boundary and Cherokee Nation, this documentary explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. Filmed in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

● “Philoxenia” by Jessica Chriesman – a short documentary highlighting the synergy between the Greek notion of philoxenia (“friend of the stranger”) and Southern hospitality, as expressed through Birmingham, Alabama’s Greek-owned restaurants.

● “That Tree Lives On: A Film about Terry Ratliff” by Ethan Payne – focusing on the life and work of Terry Ratliff, who makes chairs with his hands and lives way up in the mountains of Appalachia in a cabin made of wood that he also made with his hands.

● “The Search for Safe Passage” by Garrett Martin – a short film showing the ways that the Wildlands Network and the National Parks Conservation Association are seeking to make Interstate 40 along the Pigeon River Gorge safer for wildlife and people alike.

● “Women and Ginseng” by Clara Haizlett – One chapter in a film about three women and their unique relationships to American ginseng, a valuable medicinal plant native to the Appalachian region.

“Alchemy” – Directed & Filmed by Bridgett Fitzgerald

“We’re happy to work with the historic Appalachian Theatre, which provides an incredible space to showcase the work of talented filmmakers from around the Appalachian region,” said Beth Davison, documentary filmmaker and one of the festival’s organizers.

Tickets to the Boone Docs Film Festival at the Appalachian Theatre are $10 each and available for purchase online via ATHC’s touchless ticketing portal at: https://www.apptheatre.org/newevents/ 2023/2/25/boone-docs-film-festival.