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Published 9:37 am Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Tryon Film Festival expands by going virtual

Because of the Covid-19, the 2020 Tryon International Film Festival will be held mostly online, offering a larger selection of films to a worldwide audience and a handful of in-person events in Tryon.

The Festival will begin on Friday, October 9 with a virtual gala which will include an opening film. It will conclude on Sunday, October 11, with an online closing awards ceremony. For eight days, post festival—Oct. 12-19—the Festival will present its curated films on-demand through their website TryonInternationalFilmFestival.com.

“Although it will be sad not to have the world’s cinema elite visit our little mountain town as it has for the past five years, we have struck a balance between safety, logistics, celebration and the creativity of emerging cinema,” the Festival’s Co-founder and Director of Operations Beau Menetre said. “By showing all of our films online, anyone on the planet with Internet access will be able to see them safely, and the window of opportunity to see them will be eight days at any time day or night. Normally, people have only a few days to see films at a festival, and often there are conflicting times.”
For the past five years, Tryon International Film Festival has drawn actors, filmmakers, producers and patrons from around the world to Tryon. Known as a magnet for accomplished business leaders, artists, equestrians and celebrities, Tryon rolls out the red carpet, welcoming attendees of the festival held in October every year. In 2019, the Festival screened more than 60 films in three days at seven downtown locations, including independent films, major Hollywood productions, documentaries and student films.

Through its film selections, the Festival has established itself as a champion for oppressed people of the world. In addition to the expected film categories, such as full-length feature, the Tryon Film Festival has the special category of “Human Rights and Dignity.” In 2019, the USA-made full-length film “Foster Boy,” directed by Youssef Delara, was chosen “Best Full-Length Narrative Feature” and it received the “Human Rights and Dignity” award.

“This film festival will have special meaning to me,” Menetre said. “Late last year, my teenage daughter Sabian died from a drug overdose, something that has changed my personal perspective as a parent and as a human being. I am dedicating this year’s Tryon International Film Festival to her, and it is my hope and prayer that in some way some of these films will shed light on personal loss, drugs and coping.”

To that end, the Festival is already planning to show “Overdosed,” a documentary by filmmaker Mary Sue Connolly that highlights the troubling turmoil of the deadly American opioid crisis as it unfolds in rural West Virginia, the state hardest hit by this epidemic. Through interviews with former drug dealers, over-prescribing doctors, DEA agents and local community members, Connolly uncovers a shocking narrative of the pharmaceutical industry’s intentional plan to target opioid sales to an impoverished, under-served community and the resulting addiction, prison and overdose cycles of its citizens.

Currently, a new website is being built creating the ways and means for patrons to participate. “Because of the coronavirus and new technology, nearly every aspect of the festival will funnel through our website,” Co-Founder and Director of Content and Media Communications Kirk Gollwitzer said. “By going to our new website, you’ll get the festival’s user-friendly details. Most importantly, you’ll see the events, and the selection of films and their screening times. By going online, not only are we giving the viewing public the opportunity to see our films without having to travel, but the filmmakers from around the world will be able to invite their friends and colleagues to see their work presented by a world-class festival.”

In addition, Menetre and Gollwitzer are developing behind-the-scenes interviews with filmmakers and actors.

“By tapping into an established online film festival platform, we are making ourselves available to the entire world–not just the several hundred people who normally come to the festival. And, it will be very price friendly,” Gollwitzer emphasized. “We’ll probably have 80 to 85 films this year. Since people can’t travel to us, we take you there.”

This year’s categories are: Full-Length Feature Film, Short Dramatic Film, Full-Length and Short-Length Documentary, Student Film and Human Rights and Human Dignity.

“From the large number of films that were submitted, we are choosing between 80 and 85 to show,” Menetre said. “Even though it has been a bad year for the world because of the virus, it has been a good year for new creativity in the cinema arts. When creative people are isolated, they find new ways to express themselves, and I see that being true for filmmakers, especially the smaller independent filmmakers.”
For more information about the festival, visit online: TryonInternationalFilmFestival.com.


Submitted by Steve Wong