PCFI board in place for 10th year of Tryon International Film Festival

Published 12:15 pm Thursday, June 6, 2024

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TRYON—Over a decade ago, locals Beau and Ashley Menetre, Lavin Cuddihee and Kirk Gollwitzer put their heads and ideas together and formed Polk County Film Initiative, a nonprofit 501C3, and launched the Next Generation Filmmakers Program for youth filmmakers. The mission of the organization and its events is to bolster independent and major motion picture film production and media arts education for youth and adults in Western North Carolina and the surrounding region. 

In 2015, the group followed the program with its first annual fall film festival, the Tryon International Film Festival, called TRIFF for short. The signature film festival and media arts education offerings fill a gap in continuing and skill-based education in the industry in the region and provide a catalyst for creative and economic development.  

Ten years later, the festival is going strong, welcoming over 500 participants annually to the October event and growing its educational offerings. The work of the organization and implementation of the festival is guided by a rotating volunteer board that leads the development of festival and education content, creativity and associated events throughout the year in downtown Tryon, Western North Carolina and the Upstate. The active volunteer Board of Directors and TRIFF Team includes founders, local and regional volunteers, and staff—all bringing their time, energy, and talents to the table and the events. 

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The Board is currently led by Tom Trobaugh, President, with members Beau Menetre, Carri Bass and Will Barclift. Will, the Executive Director of Tryon Arts & Crafts School, joined the board this spring. He brings his wealth of expertise in the arts, planning, nonprofit management and event planning and implementation, and more to the table. Joining the PCFI Board this summer as Ex Officio members are Gail Awan of the Urban League (ULUS) and Jennifer Britanisky. Since the beginning of her tenure at ULUS, Awan has participated in leadership programs, including The Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative and Leadership Spartanburg, and was included in the list of 2023 Greenville Magazine “Most Influential” people.  Britansky of Spartanburg, SC, will join the Board, bringing her leadership and connections within Spartanburg County and at the SC state level to the table.

Co-founder Kirk Gollwitzer will rotate off the Board in June. Kirk is a co-founder of the Tryon International Film Festival. After moving to the Tryon area, Kirk began exploring the arts as a photographer, writer, author, videographer and musician. Kirk has been a reporter and feature writer for the Tryon Daily Bulletin and other media platforms, but it has been his novel Illegitimate Advantage, that he claims as his largest artistic accomplishment.  Kirk has been engaged for more than a decade in the visionary planning, media, and content programming, and the operations of TRIFF. 

My time at TRIFF has been wonderfully exhilarating,” he shared. There is truly nothing like this place or this team. As I prepare for a new adventure, I will always be grateful for my time at TRIFF. I wish the Tryon International Film Festival continued growth and wonderful success.”

For more information about TRIFF, visit tryoninternationalfilmfestival.org, visit with us at the TRIFF24 Poster Art Reception at sponsoring partner Tryon Arts & Crafts School on June 20 at 5:30 p.m. and at Carri Bass Photography & Art Studio in Tryon (July 26 – August 30).  Free media arts education sessions for Polk County and Landrum, SC, residents will be available this fall on October 12 and 13 during TRIFF24—sign-up opens in August—thanks to a grant from the Mary F. Kessler Fund at Polk County Community Foundation. For information on sponsoring TRIFF24 sponsored by Title Sponsor New View Realty or buying a program ad, please email directorpcfi@gmail.com for sponsorships/program ads. Email us at triffvolunteer@gmail.com to sign up to be a festival volunteer.


Submitted by Debra Torrence