The 14th annual Carrboro Film Festival will be held this weekend at the downtown Carrboro ArtsCenter. This is the first year that filmmaker Bradley Bethel is taking the helm as director of the festival, and he is making an effort to pivot the festival’s theme to be more representative of the South’s unique place in American culture.
Bethel was the marketing coordinator for the festival last year. He got a good idea for how to operate and organize the festival before the torch was passed to him from previous director, Nic Beery, he said.
When organizing this year’s festival, Bethel put together a wide mix of genres and styles of filmmaking, including documentary, horror-comedy, thriller, LGBTQ drama and short features. While past years’ festivals also had a variety of genres, Bethel had one criteria that all films had to share this year.
“The common thread is that they’re all Southern,” Bethel said. “I wanted to recognize the great films being made here in the South.”
Bethel hopes to highlight the multifarious nature of Southern culture as a whole. He believes that there is a lot to cherish about Southern culture, as well as a lot of to critique and challenge.
“I wanted the festival to become a platform and community space for both celebrating and interrogating Southern culture,” Bethel said. “Southern culture is this really complex and multifaceted phenomenon that people have been grappling with since the founding of the country.”
The festival serves as a platform for people in the UNC community to show their filmmaking skills, and the festival has support from the Writing for the Screen and Stage program, Bethel said. Several of the projects being shown in the festival are products of UNC students and graduates.
"Camilla, Keep Your Word" is a narrative short that will be shown at the festival, written and directed by Holland Gallagher and produced by Taylor Sharp. The pair met as students in UNC's entrepreneurship program and began discussing collaborating on films at the local bar He’s Not Here. Their partnership soon turned into the appropriately titled company, Blue Cup Productions.
"Camilla, Keep Your Word" is a love story set in the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, one of the biggest natural and humanitarian disasters to ever occur in the South. The film is inspired by Gallagher’s own experiences with Hurricane Katrina while growing up in New Orleans.
“It’s largely based out of my experience evacuating,” Gallagher said. “However, I was much younger when it happened. This story focuses on two college-aged people who are working through a relationship as they are simultaneously evacuating the storm.”
Sharp said the tight-knit nature of the North Carolina film community made their submission into the Carrboro Film Fest an easy choice. He met Bethel when he was a student working on his prior project, "Hoops Africa," and Bethel was working on his own documentary "Unverified: The Untold Story Behind the UNC Scandal."
“Bradley Bethel and I decided to get drinks together in Carrboro one night to talk about our respective projects,” Sharp said. “We formed a friendship. Fast forward four years later and he’s running the Carrboro Film Fest.”
Bethel said it’s a rewarding experience to see the talent in the Southern filmmaking community, and he hopes people will leave the festival with appreciation for these filmmakers.
“The best thing is kind of obvious, and it’s just getting to watch all of the films," Bethel said. "... I really want the festival to showcase new Southern film and showcase how great, stimulating and entertaining Southern films being made are right now.”
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