Popular film festival screens 60 films at the Memorial Auditorium, March 20-22
There’s no doubt that film in Chattanooga is gaining traction as a focus of the Chattanooga arts scene. Each event, from the Chattanooga Film Festival to Mise En Scenesters to The Backlot, continues to grow in number of attendees and in quality of films presented. There is a hunger in the city for independent film, for experiences outside the multiplex, for ideas that cover more than the usual subjects and superheroes. Every year has more exciting opportunities for film fans.
This year, one of the first real film festivals to gain popularity in Chattanooga returns, offering more films than ever before. The Lookout Wild Film Festival is in its third year and is offering twice the number of films. LWFF celebrates the wild places in the world and the people who explore them, providing context for just how magnificent and vast the outdoors really is. More than just a collection of extreme sports videos, the LWFF celebrates a wide variety of subjects and ecological concerns with some 60 films over the weekend of March 20-22. With that many films, there is sure to be something that will catch the attention of anyone that attends.
According to LFF board member Christina Holes, “In each of our first two years, we always had people say they aren’t ‘outdoorsy’ people, but they fell in love with the stories or characters in the film...these filmmakers do an incredible job crafting stories that appeal to everyone, packed around scenery everybody can appreciate. Anyone with a pulse will enjoy these films and probably notice some of the movies make that pulse beat a little faster.”
In 2014, 1,400 people attended the Lookout Wild Film Festival, making it one of the most successful film events in Chattanooga history. This is no small feat considering that 2014 was also the debut of the Chattanooga Film Festival. The LWFF has grown so much in three years that for 2015, the festival is being moved to the Memorial Auditorium. Festival director Andy Johns says, “The new venue gives us seating for 300 more people, a bigger screen and some other perks, so we think it’s a good step for the festival.”
For a weekend pass of $10 (another significant perk of the LWFF), attendees have access to all 60 screenings, which had to be culled from 275 submissions from more than 20 countries. The selection committee was focused on compelling stories from around the world, looking for special films that will connect with the audience on a personal level. These films are as much about the majesty of human experience as they are the spectacular outdoor settings. “In one weekend, LWFF takes our audience from trails in Tennessee to hidden rock climbing areas in China,” says board member Sam Silvey. “You’d be hard-pressed to pack any more adventure into one weekend.”
Films of note include “Brilliant Darkness: Hotaru in the Night,” a 12-minute short film detailing the effect of light pollution on fireflies in Japan. Light pollution is an under-reported problem across the globe, one that many people never think about. But anyone that has noticed the orange glow on the horizon over Chattanooga at night, or struggled to make out stars that were once much more visible has seen the effects of it. “Brilliant Darkness” explores how the lack of a true night affects the patterns and behaviors of fireflies—and what can be done to preserve these habitats. It’s a subject that would not be tackled elsewhere.
Another short, “Forest Man,” tells the story of Majuli islander Jadav Payeng, a modern Johnny Appleseed, who has been planting trees on his island since the 1970s. His work has resulted in changing an entire landscape, from “what was once a barren wasteland into a lush oasis” covering an area the size of New York City’s Central Park with new forest. It’s a story that is much more than the recounting of an extreme sport event—it explores man’s relationship with, rather than his domination of, the natural world.
The Lookout Wild Film Festival begins what can now be called Chattanooga’s film festival season. Just a few short years ago, such a thing would have been laughable. All it takes is for someone to provide the opportunity. Be thankful it exists. Support local film.
• • • •
Tickets for the Lookout Wild Film Festival can purchased at the Memorial Auditorium box office or at chattanoogaonstage.com