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The Chattanooga Choo Choo will host the Lookout Wild Film Festival, presented by Get Out Chattanooga, from March 22-24, with an additional free screening on March 23 at Ross’s Landing. The festival arrives at the intersection of film and outdoor recreation, providing fascinating views and locations, hoping to showcase the wild places of the world and the people who are inspired to explore them.
These films should be of particular interest to outdoor enthusiasts in Chattanooga. One of the Scenic City’s biggest draws is outdoor recreation and there is a wide variety of opportunity for those that love the natural world.
“It is natural for Chattanooga to have an outdoor-themed film festival to complement the wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area,” said David Porfiri, president of the Chattanooga Film Society. “Not everyone can scale a rock wall or shoot down heart-pounding rapids, but through the film medium, we can still experience it.”
The impetus for the festival came together for director Andy Johns last February. “This is an idea that a friend of mine, Luis Carrasco, and I have been kicking around for several years. Chattanooga is such a great town for young, creative folks and it’s screaming for more film events. It’s also a great town for the outdoor enthusiasts. Those two things come together to get an outdoor/adventure film festival,” he said.
When choosing the films for the festival, Johns hoped to show films that combined both intriguing stories and dramatic visuals.
“From the beginning, we said we didn’t want to show hours of 60-second clips of kayakers going over waterfalls with techno music in the background. Those clips are all over YouTube, and while there are people doing amazing things, we were committed to presenting stories rather than stunts. I’m a writer and my family is full of story tellers so that’s always been important to me,” he said.
“We received about 70 films from 18 countries which wound up being about 40 hours of footage,” Johns added. “The variety was incredible! We had polar exploration, fishing, climate change, social issues, history, water conservation, everything. Films came in from India, to Norway and back again. Some were stunning visually, but lacked the story. Others had good stories, but failed to capture us visually. Some, like many of the films we selected, put both the story and the visual side together. The toughest part of this process has been letting so many filmmakers know that their projects were not selected.”
Of the 25 films selected for the festival, there are several from Chattanooga natives, Johns said.
“A big part of our mission is to promote outdoor filmmaking in the Southeast. I’m especially proud to say we have filmmakers from Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida represented, because they are showing places in the films that local folks can go. It’s great to show things out west or around the world, but we really want to highlight the things we have here in the Southeast,” Johns said.
“Taylor Kirkpatrick and Hardwick Caldwell, two Chattanooga natives, have one of my favorite films in the festival called ‘The Waters of the Greenstone,’ where they trek across New Zealand to see the country and go fly fishing for trout,” Johns said.
Film festivals are an essential part in the ongoing quest to bring the film medium into the spotlight in Chattanooga. The arts community here is already vibrant and the Lookout Wild Film Festival hopes to add a little natural color to the pallet. If successful, the festival could become an annual tradition.
“Our plan is to grow a little bigger each year,” Johns said. “There are a handful of large outdoor adventure film festivals out West, but none really in the East. We feel like Chattanooga is the perfect place for something like this to grow into something big. We’ve already been in talks with other groups about parties, contests and other events to add for next year.”
Check out the festival and experience something wild while you support local film.
Lookout Wild Film Festival
One day pass: $5 • Weekend pass: $10 • March 22-24 • Chattanooga Choo Choo • 1400 Market St. • lookoutfilmfestival.org