The Lookout Wild Film Festival returns with another great collection
The beginning of a new year has become an exciting time for film fans in Chattanooga. Finally, the Scenic City has a film festival season, a time when there is an abundance of film news and press releases all leading to some of the best events in the South. This year, the season kicks off with the Lookout Wild Film Festival, Chattanooga’s first successful film festival.
While Chattanooga has recently become a technology darling, dubbed Gig City by those who sell us high-speed internet, the city has a longer reputation as a haven for people drawn to the outdoors. Where better to see a collection of short and feature-length films about the wild places of the world than in a city that celebrates a deep connection with nature? The festival is now in its fourth year, and each year it seems the LWFF grows in popularity.
“Audience members have let us know how much they’ve enjoyed the LWFF films in the past three years,” said Andy Johns, LWFF festival director. “That history puts a lot of pressure on this year’s films but I think they live up to it. The audience is going to love them.”
What began as a simple film festival has expanded into a full-on celebration of nature filmmaking, allowing audiences to experience places and activities that cannot be found elsewhere.
Perhaps the best part of the LWFF is how eclectic the selections are. Starting on Thursday Jan. 28 and continuing through that Sunday, the festival will show a whopping 31 films, each exploring a different aspect of the outdoor lifestyle.
The films will take viewers on a trip down Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River, balloon skiing through some of the world’s tallest mountains, trekking through the Arctic to see a solar eclipse, and wandering the wilds of North Carolina to learn about conserving the native ginseng plants. There is truly something to see for anyone, from greenhorn to mountain man.
However, as with every festival, there are films that should not be missed. Festival director Andy Johns gives us a list of his favorites below:
“Operation Moffat” takes inspiration and wit from the colorful climbing life of Britain’s first female mountain guide, Gwen Moffat. Writer Claire Carter and filmmaker Jen Randall scramble, swim and barefoot-climb through Gwen’s most cherished British landscapes, grappling with her preference for mountains over people, adventure over security, wilderness over tick lists. With new takes on landscape photography, archive footage and action sequences, this is a film rooted in a real love of wild places.
Johns says: “This one got a rare “Yay! Yay! Yay!” from one of our judges, so you know it’s something special. I love the way the film introduces us to Gwen Moffat and through her gives us a glimpse of rock-climbing history.”
3,000 miles, 16 wild horses, five states, four men—“Unbranded” is the journey of a lifetime, riding from Mexico to Canada through the deepest backcountry in the American West to see our remaining open spaces and prove the worth of 50,000 wild horses and burros currently in holding pens.
Johns says: “Simply put, ‘Unbranded’ is one of the best three outdoor movies I’ve ever seen. The story follows some really likeable guys on a gorgeous, winding trip from Mexico to Canada. After just having won some big awards at big festivals, this is one not to miss.”
Sharing the Secrets
After millions of years in the making, Alabama has over 4,000 caves that are explored and beloved by spelunkers from all over. With caves’ diverse array of underground plants, animals and other organisms, conserving these massive underground formations and their delicate ecosystems is crucial. “Sharing the Secrets” follows some of the most enthusiastic and daring cavers into the breathtaking hidden treasures of northeast Alabama, an area that boasts one of the highest concentrations of caves in the U.S. and supports incredible cave biodiversity.
Johns says: “LWFF loves films shot in the Southeast, including ‘Sharing the Secrets’ from north Alabama. The cave photography and video work are really stunning and I think people will be shocked to see what’s underground right here in the Tennessee Valley.”
For more information about the LWFF, visit lookoutfilmfestival.org. Buy tickets now and take a walk on the wild side.