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Second Lookout Wild Film Festival ramps it up this year
AS WINTER AND SPRING FIGHT FOR control of the weather, the season of film is descending on Chattanooga. Starting with the International Film Music Festival, there are three festivals between the end of February and the beginning of April, leading up to the Chattanooga Film Festival on April 3.
But before that happens, the second annual Lookout Wild Film Festival opens on Mar 21. The festival is a celebration of fresh air, of the people that love it and play in it. It’s about enjoying green earth, about the beauty of the natural world, with films made by local and international filmmakers that have a single focus of showing the wonder of the outdoors. Last year’s festival was small in scale, and by all accounts this year’s has grown by leaps and bounds. Chattanooga is the perfect city for a film festival like this one. It speaks to the passion the city has for the wild places of our community.
When it comes to differences between this year’s festival and last year’s, festival director Andy Johns is excited about the prospects. “This year’s festival really builds on the solid foundation we laid last year,” Johns says. “The biggest change our audience members will notice will be the overall quality of films. Last year’s films were good and we are proud of them, but the 2014 films are truly some of the best in the world.” Some of selections include winners from many major outdoor adventure and conservations festivals from around the world, including four of Outdoor Magazine’s eight “Best Adventure Films of 2013.” Johns says: “I think people are going to be blown away by the amazing stories and incredible places in the films this year.”
One of the films selected this year is “Outdoor Chattanooga”, by director Louis Lee, which highlights the incredible successes the city has had in creating a destination for lovers of the outdoors worldwide. I had the opportunity to see the film early and I have to say if it is representative of the quality found in the festival, Lookout Wild will be something special. The film is truly a local effort, narrated by Channel 3 news anchor Jonquil Newland, and featuring interviews with former Mayor Ron Littlefield, Mayor Andy Berke and Senator Bob Corker.
The turnaround of Chattanooga from industrial wasteland to outdoor paradise isn’t news to anyone from the area, of course. Anyone living in the Scenic City has reaped the benefits of the efforts of these administrations to make Chattanooga an outdoor friendly place. But hearing the personal accounts of the process and the dedication across three separate administrations is encouraging to say the least, especially at a time when government seems so unworkable. But more than this, the film is a quiet reflection on the work done by so many in an earnest attempt to improve the lives of Chattanooga residents. I am continually impressed by the talent of local filmmakers. Lee’s film is a marvelous promotion of an important idea, one that showcases some of the exquisite beauty of the area. It makes me excited to see more local films in the CFF next month.
The subject matter of other films found in the festival is varied, from the depths of north Georgia caves to fly fishing in Virginia. According to Johns: “We’ve also got “North of the Sun”, a Norwegian film about two surfers who chase waves north of the Arctic Circle,” which has recently won major awards like “Best of Show” at the Banff Mountain Film Competition in Canada. Other big films include “The Last Great Climb” and “Congo: The Inga Project.” Beyond just activity films, the festival also features films that tackle conservation subjects like rhino poaching, the effect of dams in South America, water usage in Georgia, and deforestation in the West.
All in all, the Lookout Wild Film Festival is a major step forward from last year, with better films and an established fan base. Seven of the filmmakers featured in the festival will be in attendance to answer questions, as well as some of the local leaders interviewed in “Outdoor Chattanooga.” Films will be shown at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Tickets can be bought online at http://lookoutfilmfestival.org. A weekend pass is only $10, so there is literally no excuse to miss this festival. Support local film!