There’s a very good chance that the 46 films screening at this year’s Carrboro Film Festival will never be shown at your local multiplex. And as far as festival director Nic Beery is concerned, that’s quite all right.
“These (filmmakers) have stories to tell and they’re going to tell them on their own terms,” says Beery, who is a filmmaker himself. “They don’t have the time or the means to play that Hollywood game. There’s no film business in the Carrboro Film Festival.”
Now in its ninth year, the festival, which concentrates on short films, was founded by a group of Carrboro citizens who felt, says Beery, that “independent films are underserved. You can’t go see regional and local independent films, and I mean truly independent films, good powerful stories with passion, so we said we needed a place where people can come together and see these great regional films. Community is important to me, and is important to everybody in the film festival community.”
That first festival attracted 104 entries, which were winnowed down to 27 films shown over one day. They all had to have some connection to North Carolina, but two years ago the festival was opened to submissions from anywhere – although 70 percent of this year’s entries have some Tar Heel link (quite a few are from regional film programs like the one at the North Carolina School of the Arts), there are also works from as far away as California, Spain and Sweden.
“We get all types of films that you can imagine,” says Beery. “Horror to documentaries, romantic comedies to gay and lesbian films. Most of our films are shorts, so if you don’t like what we are screening, wait for the next one.”
Last year the festival expanded to two days, and has added workshops, which this year will include a tutorial on drones and other moving cameras, and a talk by award-winning filmmaker Jon Kasbe. Submissions have also increased to 350 this year, of which 46 will be screened.
Beery says the audience for the festival, which sells out the 350 seat Carrboro Century Center, has proven to be “as diverse as Carrboro is. We get families with their kids, old folks, hipster kids. And the reaction is amazing; they stay, they talk to the filmmakers, some are inspired to make their own films.
“There is no bigger reward,” he adds, “than sitting in the back of a darkened theater with 350 people and they’re responding positively to the film we’re showing. That is the golden moment for any filmmaker.”