Zombies warbling love to each other in Siberia, a band of Cherokee Indians struggling to keep their language alive, and an adopted 10-year-old who climbs up an oak tree with his arms outstretched, in the hopes of catching a new brother falling from the stars.
Those films – “ZomRomCom,” “First Language: The Race to Save Cherokee” and “Harbinger” – are three of the 30-plus films to be featured at the North Carolina Museum of History’s inaugural Longleaf Film Festival on Friday and Saturday. The festival was planned in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibition, “Starring North Carolina!”
The exhibition celebrates North Carolina’s 100 years of film history and the 3,000-plus films that have involved the state.
“It made sense to make Longleaf Festival as an extension of ‘Starring North Carolina,’” said Sally Bloom, a film aficionado who co-organized the event with Jerry Taylor, the multimedia producer at the museum. “Film is a way of telling stories. A history museum is about people’s experiences. So it’s peanut butter and jelly to put a film festival in a museum.”
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In recent years, blockbuster films including “The Hunger Games” and “Iron Man 3” have capitalized on North Carolina’s studios and landscape.
“The geography just screams for filmmaking – and with the widespread use of technology, more and more people are making films,” Bloom said.
A focus on films with ties to N.C.
The festival called for entries of films made in the past five years and will present a series of features, shorts and documentaries – including musicals, comedies and dramas. Longleaf will celebrate films from around the world, but will give special recognition to those with connections to North Carolina.
At the end of the festival, they’ll present three major awards: the Judge’s Choice award, the Made-in-NC award and the Best Student-Made Film.
“We really want to show the younger generation that film is a viable avenue of career and research,” said Bloom, an educator at the museum.
Among the four student entries is a three-minute experimental short by Michelle Marquez, “Exploring the Emotional Dimensions of the James River.” The film is a play of sound, emotional states and mathematics and has received recognition in other film festivals.
The Made-in-NC Award will be given to an entry filmed in the state, or one that has directors or actors connected with North Carolina.
About half of the films featured in the festival will be eligible, including Ted Roach’s “120 Days,” about an immigrant father trying to keep his family together after being order to leave the country. Jon Bacon’s “Oh Crappy Day” is about a film student trying to keep his OCD in check on a blind date.
Bloom said she would also encourage people to watch Matthew VanDyke’s “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution,” which is about Syria, and Mark Playne’s “Love at First Sight,” a Swedish short film about a shy man trying to woo a neighbor.
Festival’s future uncertain
Most films screened will be family friendly and within the PG-13 range. Those outside of that range will be noted in the program.
Although the festival this year is tied to the “Starring North Carolina!” exhibition, the future of the event will depend on sponsors and participation, Bloom said.
“We’re certainly hopeful,” she said. “After the festival, we’ll see how the show and participation went, and decide how to continue going forward.”
What: Longleaf Film Festival
When: 5:30-7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday
Where: N.C. Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh
Info: 919-807-7900 or longleaffilmfestival.com