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Boone Film Festival: Youth Screening on Thursday, Main Event on Saturday

By Jesse Wood

The second annual Boone Film Festival is taking place later this month. This year’s festival features more quality submissions, a bigger venue, a separate youth screening and a double screening on the day of the Boone Film Festival.

The youth category screening is set for Sept. 28 at the Watauga High School auditorium, and on Sept. 30, Appalachian State University’s Schaefer Center will host two screenings and an awards ceremony.

Tickets are on sale now, and a 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Mountain Alliance, a nonprofit youth leadership development program focused on the outdoors and based at Watauga High School.

In their festival shirts, Boone Film Festival organizers Jason Berry (left) and Russ Hiatt (right) spoke to reporters last Thursday at Appalachian Mountain Brewery. Photo by Jesse Wood

A couple years ago, the Boone Film Festival was founded by three individuals – Jason Berry, Russ Hiatt, and Bill Ireland – in anticipation to the 20th anniversary of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Boone.

Managing the festival is the talented Boone-based Wonderland Woods Productions, which is made up of co-founders Paul Halluch, Eitan Abramowitz and Jerry Sebastian. As Berry mentioned this past Friday during a media invite, “What these guys have brought to the table has been crucial.”

The crew are also bringing back Dean Lyon, a pioneer in the visual effects industry and the visual effects supervisor of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Patrick Wilkinson, an actor to emcee the event. 

Organizers also expanded the advisory board for the Boone Film Festival for its second year. One of the new board members and volunteers is Joni Horine, who said, “I went last year and it was so good that I called and asked to be a part of it.”

The inaugural year featured 31 submitted entries. This year, a total of 47 submissions were received, including about a dozen in the youth category. “[The quality] of submissions are definitely up a few notches,” Berry said, adding that he encourages submissions.

Unlike last year’s festival at the Harvest House, there is assigned seating this year at the Schaefer Center, so it’s “first come, best seats” in the words of Berry. On the day of the Boone Film Festival, the matinee screening will cover the culture and environment genre films, while the evening screening will feature the adventure films, the awards ceremony and “red-carpet” theme.

The three categories of film being judged are Appalachian Culture, Appalachian Adventure and Appalachian Environment. The awards include: Best In Show Appalachian Region Film, $1,500 cash prize; Best Culture Film, $750 cash prize; Best Adventure Film, $750 cash prize; Best Environment Film, $750 cash prize; and Best Youth Film Submission, $750 cash prize.

Tickets to the youth festival on Sept. 28 are $5 for adults and $3 for those under 18. Youth festival tickets are available on the Mountain Alliance website. Tickets to both screenings and the awards ceremony on Sept. 30 are $15 for adults and $10 for those under 18. A VIP package costs $50. Tickets to the main show are available at the Schaefer Center box office.

Sponsors include Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Wonderland Woods.TV, ECRS, Mast General Store, Tsuga and MPrints.

For more information, click to https://www.facebook.com/boonefilmfest/ and http://boonefilmfestival.com/. Also check out the trailer above.