The West Virginia FILMmakers Festival, celebrating its 21st-year, will be screening virtually on Eventive the weekend of October 3 & 4, 2020. Screening 18 films online over two days. Despite not being an in-person event, this year’s slate looks to be mighty impressive, with the premiere of a documentary on West Virginia troubador Mike Morningstar, and screenings of great WV-made feature films like River of Hope and My Autopsy.
Highlights from the WVFF press release explain the decision to not to run as a physical festival at their home theater in Sutton:
“In Spring 2020, we witnessed many film festivals cancel for the year. We knew we didn’t want to cancel WVFF. Our research reflected festivals were running virtually (online) and live from location. We set that as our goal and in pursuit of it, we realized there was technical infrastructure work that needed to be done. For this reason, we are virtual only this year. Truth is, our festival and our filmmakers will have an even broader reach by embracing the option to screen virtually. We are seeing a lot of opportunities in opening the festival up online. We have the ability for more screening events throughout the year instead of one weekend. I admit, it’s not the same. As a FILMmaker or film goer, you want to see film in a theatre on a big screen with your crew, cast, family and friends. However, this whole year isn’t the same. So we adapt to survive. It is our plan to be both virtual and live in 2021, and screening live at the historic Elk Theatre in Sutton.”
“A great feature of a virtual festival is that you can watch the films on your schedule. You’re not tied to the screening time like you are in a live event. Just like any show you are streaming you can elect to watch Day One of the festival that’s best for you. You must order your ticket festival weekend and you have several days to view the films.”
Returning filmmakers are Richard Anderson, Harrison Reishman, Holly Mollohan and Bob Celli, who represent FILMmakers from West Virginia, Ohio, California, Virginia, New York, Canada and France.
The festival will begin online Saturday, October 3 at 11:00 a.m. on the Eventive platform from your smart tv, computer, smart phone or tablet. The festival kicks off with Andre Van Damme & The Story of the Charleston Ballet by Deborah Novak about founder Andre Van Damme, a premier danseur etoile and a Belgian resistance fighter of World War II, and the Charleston Ballet, one of America’s oldest ballet companies.
Saturday’s s final screening begins at 5:30pm with Richard Andersons’ feature documentary Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man. Mike Morningstar is a singer/songwriter born and raised in West Virginia. Mike began his musical career in 1964 when at the age of 16 he joined a predominately black rhythm & blues soul band. Four years later, Mike was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he was exposed to Agent Orange and other traumas that resulted in PTSD. Consequently Mike’s musical career as well as his personal life changed dramatically. His marriage ended as well as his career playing with large bands. Mike became a loner, both in his personal life and in his musical career where he performed mostly as a solo artist. It took Mike over 20 years to get to the point where he could describe his Vietnam experience in song with the haunting Neu Ba Den. Other songs describe the plight of the working Man and the environmental destruction coal mining brought to his beloved West Virginia such as Buffalo Creek and Coal Country Blues. The film tells the story of Mike’s loss of his musically inclined son in a fatal car accident and Mike’s struggle to overcome his mental and physical challenges from the tragic episode of Vietnam. “Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man” is comprised of interviews with Mike and his wife of 27 years, Donna Morningstar as well as 14 of Mike’s songs, the majority of which are performed live.
Saturday evening, October 3, 7:00 p.m., live music with a Q & A session following the feature documentary, Mike Morningstar will play live streaming on Eventive from Todd Burge Studios with FILMmaker Richard Anderson. Tickets can be purchased at wvff2020.eventive.org.
The Sunday, October 4, at 11:00 a.m., screening schedule starts with three WV features: River of Hope, A Journey Through the System, and Hard Road of Hope followed by WV FILMmaker Holly Mollohan’s feature My Autopsy and several award-winning shorts wrapping out the day with the stunning stop motion animation Gon, The Little Fox.
Nominations for West Virginia FILMmaker of the Year and Impact Award were not held this year.
Check out the schedule in these graphics or at this link.