Blue Ridge Outdoors is excited to announce its partnership with the New River Alliance of Climbers for the first annual Appalachian Outdoor Film Festival (AOFF), set to take place in Fayetteville, W.Va., on May 21, 2016. Whether or not you’re a professional filmmaker is no matter to us — we’re looking to spread the love of Appalachia and its mountains, rivers, adventures, and adventurers.

Appalachian Outdoor Film Festival: Trailer 2 from Jay Young on Vimeo.

Submission is free, but the deadline is soon! Want to learn more? Check out this Q&A with AOFF Co-Director Jay Young.

BRO: Where did the idea for AOFF originate?
JY: Kenny Parker, Maura Kistler, and I were at a birthday party, sitting around talking. For a couple years, the elephant in the room had been “With what do we replace the New River Climbers’ Rendezvous?” And Maura had an idea—bring the Banff Mountain Film Festival to Fayetteville. The more we spoke about bringing a festival like Banff or Reel Rock here, the more we began to see problems with them. One, they’re prohibitively expensive for a little non-profit like us. Two, the films are too long—if you’re not into one, you’re a captive audience for the next 40 minutes. Three, while the films are very high quality in those other festivals, they’re not usually geographically specific to the New…or West Virginia…or for that matter, Appalachia.

 

BRO: What is the mission of the AOFF?
JY: 
We want a festival that is accessible to amateur film makers and geographically pertinent to where we are, Appalachia.

 

BRO: Who should enter in the AOFF and what types of films are you looking for?
JY: 
Amateurs and professional film makers should feel free to submit their films. The run-time limit for submissions is 15 minutes (no captive audiences here), and all entries must have some tie to Appalachia, even if that’s just an Appalachia-based film maker who ventured farther afield to create a film.

 

BRO: What are the important dates and facts to know about the film fest?
JY: 
The deadline for submissions is 11:59pm April 1, but really, as long as it’s in my inbox when I turn my computer on April 2, we won’t worry about minutes and hours. Films must be maximum 15 minutes long and must have some tie to Appalachia. Submission is free. There’s a submission form to fill out here: http://aoff.org. The live festival is May 21, 2016, at 8pm, with the after party at the American Alpine Club campground.

There’s also a pretty hefty cash prize up for grabs. Rather than prizes for various categories, we have one cash award for Best in Show and one for Audience Favorite. Both are $1,000, which means there’s potential for one film maker to walk with two large lumps of cash.

 

BRO: The culture of the New River Gorge is steeped in adventure, so for film makers and potential attendees to the film fest who may be unfamiliar with the area, tell us what makes the NRG, and this fest, so unique?
JY: The Appalachian Outdoor Film Festival is not a New River Gorge film festival. I really hope that we’ll be able to draw films and film makers from as far away as Maine and Georgia. But none of that means the festival is not infused with the adventurous spirit of the New River Gorge. Our roots are here, and we love to share it with others, but we also know that our spirit is not unique to the Appalachian chain. We want to bring Pennsylvania’s spirit in, Georgia’s, Vermont’s, New York’s. In that way, the Appalachian Outdoor Film Festival is a celebration of East Coast adventure and East Coast natural beauty. We also decided early on that we didn’t want just a climbing festival. Here at the New—where several world class outdoor pursuits are 20 minutes from our front doors—none of us are just climbers. We all have multiple outdoor loves. I’m also into whitewater. Maura’s a trail runner. We all snowboard. A bunch of us mountain bike. I can think of a few fishermen and a birder. This festival is as inclusive as the New River Gorge itself is.

 

BRO: Is the event BYOP (bring your own popcorn)?
JY: 
Huh, we haven’t really thought about that. I think we may actually own a popcorn maker from the Rendezvous days…