Regional Film Initiative announces first executive director 

Published 11:32 am Friday, February 3, 2023

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POLK COUNTY–The Polk County Film Initiative, a nonprofit organization that works to bolster independent and major motion picture film production in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, is pleased to announce the appointment of its first executive director, Debra Torrence.  

Torrence has over 30 years of experience in managing nonprofit organizations and implementing programming, marketing and fund development activities for arts organizations, local and state government and higher education institutions, including as an NC arts council director and past coordinator of film festivals in eastern NC.

PCFI was founded in 2013, offering a one-year film-making course, titled the Next Generation Film Project, for youth ages nine to 16 years. Over the past 8 years PCFI has focused on offering its signature event, the Tryon International Film Festival (TRIFF), reaching more than 4,300 people who have attended the weekend-long event and/or online offerings. 

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In 2022 alone, 58 countries were represented by the 388 films selected and screened in Tryon, including two World Premieres. 

In 2023, PCFI is growing its capacity, partnerships and education offerings for both youth and adults, to broaden access to and the impact of its media arts activities.

“The addition of Debra to the team clearly represents the level of growth PCFI has experienced through the years,” said Kirk Gollwitzer, PCFI co-founder. “TRIFF has become much more complex and larger over the years. With the addition of Debra, we believe that we will be able to both deepen and broaden our impact in the region.” 

“I’m excited about the opportunity to build on the work of PCFI founders and the hundreds of volunteers, community members and sponsors who have supported PCFI’s creative and economic development efforts in the region,” Torrence shared.  

In 2023, PCFI plans to seek support to expand its education offerings with workshops throughout the year, an education institute during TRIFF, new opportunities for high school and college youth, and economic development efforts to increase the impact of media arts in the region with current and new partners. 

“Film submissions for the 2023 Festival are already coming in, via Film Freeway. We are gearing up for an exciting year,” PCFI co-founder Beau Menetre added. “We welcome your films, ideas and suggestions and contributions!”

All are welcome to contact Torrence at to learn more about PCFI and TRIFF.


Submitted by Debra Torrence