Tryon International Film Festival shines spotlight on filmmaking

Published 1:29 pm Monday, October 9, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

9th annual TRIFF features gala, education panels, screenings, and more over weekend


TRYON—The Tryon International Film Festival returned for its ninth year this weekend, showcasing filmmakers from nine different countries and featuring a total of 67 films. The festival, held over three days, had excellent turnouts for its gala, film showings and education panels. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The festival presented awards for films in numerous categories. “A.B.,” from director Eugene Rocco Utley, won Best Overall Film, and the award for Best Full Feature Film went to “Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game,” from directors Meredith and Austin Bragg. “Beth,” from director Ava Bounds, won Best Student Film.

Filmmakers Erika Arlee and Kristi Ray discuss their latest film, “A Song for Imogene,” at Tryon Fine Arts Center. (Photo by Storme Smith)

Local businesses, filmmakers, volunteers and filmgoers expressed their enthusiasm for the festival’s diverse lineup this year. Various locations around Tryon hosted screenings and events, with the TRIFF HQ on Pacolet St. serving as a hub of energy and excitement for filmmakers and volunteers.

TRIFF co-founder Beau Menetre said that the festival took a lot of work, but added that it’s a fun way to meet interesting people. 

Co-founder Beau Menetre in TRIFF HQ. (Photo by Storme Smith)

“A film festival in a small community like Tryon is much more effective than one in a larger community because everyone gets involved,” he said. “We want to thank all the volunteers, businesses, the mayor and town management, who have been wonderful to work with.”

Documentary Short judge and filmmaker Gregg Jamback from Winston-Salem said, “They really do a great job with the festival. My partner, Jamie Huss, and I enjoyed watching all of the films on the list.”

Among the festival’s educational offerings, TRIFF co-founder Kirk Gollwitzer hosted a panel on Creative Non-Fiction that featured local filmmakers Clay Johnson and Terry Brown, along with Jamback, where they discussed the ins and outs of documentary filmmaking. Johnson encouraged filmmakers to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their work at TRIFF.

TRIFF co-founder Kirk Gollwitzer leads a panel on creative non-fiction with filmmakers Greg Jamback, Terry Brown and Clay Johnson. (Photo by Storme Smith)

“This has been a great experience to be on the panels,” said Brown, winner of last year’s award for best documentary short. “I’d certainly encourage any other filmmakers thinking of applying to do so.” 

Brown’s wife and filmmaking partner, Cher Brown, also hosted a panel on filming with drones and highlighted the educational side of the festival. 

“We’ve been to film festivals up and down the East Coast and in Canada,” she says. “Not one of them has the educational component that TRIFF does. The festival creates a wonderful opportunity to come and learn.” 

As the festival gears up for its tenth anniversary in 2024, Tryon International Film Festival promises to continue showcasing diverse films and filmmakers while providing educational opportunities for all. For a full list of films that won awards at this year’s festival, visit


Magic the horse awaits a showing at the Upstairs Gallery with her handlers. (Photo by Storme Smith)