Don’t Miss These Film Fests

Fall and winter months in the Blue Ridge are warmed by the bright lights and camaraderie of dozens of adventure film festivals across the region.

“Drones, GoPros, and other technologies have made mind-blowing footage more available than ever,” says Jim Baker, manager for the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour. “There is magic on the screen, but there is also magic in the aisles. There’s something special about doing it all together with your community,” he says.

Andy Johns echoes that sentiment. “You could watch a lot of these films on your phone if you wanted to, but getting together with eight hundred people to laugh, cry, cheer and share the experience makes it a special weekend.” Johns is the founder of the Lookout Wild Film Festival in Chattanooga Tennessee, one of the most popular home-grown film festivals in the region. “We wanted to make sure there was a platform for films and stories from Appalachia and this part of the world,” he says. In his first year, 2013, they played to three hundred attendees. By 2017, more than 3,000 joined them. “At first, people thought it was going to be all mountain bikes and techno music,” he says. “But people have been pleased by the depth of story and character.”

Adventure films aren’t just for adrenaline junkies. Mountainfilm uses the power of film to inspire audiences to create a better world. They highlight Cuban activists and back-to-the-landers in Appalachia.

Butch Allen has been on both sides of the lens. He is an Appalachian homesteader who raises chickens, kids, and the occasional ruckus. He knows a thing or two about adventure film festivals too after spending fourteen years in Alaska, where he built the Alaska Ocean Film Festival from the ground up.

Allen recently partnered with Mountainfilm and local outdoor education organization Muddy Sneakers to host the first Asheville event in 2017. It was a huge success. “It’s an awesome party that happens to be showing films that happen to raise tons of money for an awesome nonprofit,” he says. “It’s a win-win-win.”

Another local film festival organizer is Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Christine Williams, who co-hosts one of the local Banff film fests through her employer, Half Moon Outfitters in Athens, Georgia. “We’re not a big city, like Atlanta,” she says. “People find out about it and say ‘We host Banff here? That’s amazing.’” She loves how the event highlights the local scene and draws people together.

A cold dark season can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be inspiring too. As Andy Johns from Lookout Fest observed, “Whatever people do—cycling, climbing, paddling, or whatever—we all love gathering around the campfire to swap stories. At its core, that’s what these film festivals are.”

Nov 2
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Lees-McRae College-Evans Auditorium
Banner Elk, NC

Nov 5
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Studio Movie Grill
Charlotte, NC

Nov 5
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Belcourt Theatre
Nashville, TN

Nov 7-8
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Belcourt Theatre
Nashville, TN

Nov 8
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Rock/Creek Paddlesports and Outlet
Chatanooga, TN

Nov 9
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Auburn University at Montgomery
Montgomery, AL

Nov 10
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Philadelphia, PA

Nov 12-14
REEL ROCK Film Tour
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
Silver Spring, MD

Nov 15
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Heritage Sandy Springs
Atlanta, GA

Nov 15
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Seacrets Morley Hall
Ocean City, MD

Nov 16
Mountainfilm on Tour
Highland Brewing Company
Asheville, NC

Nov 16
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Onsight Rock Gym
Knoxville, TN

Nov 16
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Avalon Theatre
Easton, MD

Dec 15
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Cliff Hangers Climbing & Fitness
Mooresville, NC

Jan 5
Mountainfilm on Tour
Carrollton Cultural Arts Center
Carrollton, GA

Jan 11
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Straight to Ale Brewing
Huntsville, AL

Jan 18-21
Lookout Wild Film Festival
Tivoli Theatre
Chatanooga TN

Jan 23-Feb 2
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
National Geographic LIVE!
Washington, DC

Jan 24-26
Mountainfilm on Tour
Trustees Theater
Savannah, GA

Feb 1
REEL ROCK Film Tour
Haymarket Theater at Squires Student Center
Blacksburg, VA

Feb 8
Mountainfilm on Tour
Coligny Theatre
Hilton Head, SC

Feb 20
Mountainfilm on Tour
McAllister Hall at Berry College
Rome, GA

Mar 1-2
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Philadelphia Rock Gyms
Immaculata (Philadelphia), PA

Mar 7-9
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
James River High School
Midlothian, VA

Mar 10-11
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
The Shenandoah National Park Trust
Charlottesville, VA

Mar 13
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
New River Land Trust
Blacksburg, VA

Mar 14-15
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Climb Nashville
Nashville, TN

Mar 15-17
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Brevard College
Brevard, NC

Mar 16
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
REI
Atlanta, GA

Mar 17-18
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Blumenthal Performing Arts – McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square
Charlotte, NC

Mar 19-20
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Half-Moon Outfitters
Columbia, SC

Mar 20
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Half-Moon Outfitters
Athens, GA

Mar 21
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Half-Moon Outfitters
Augusta, GA

Mar 22-23
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC

Mar 22-24
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Half-Moon Outfitters
Greenville, SC

Mar 24
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
REI
High Point, NC

Mar 25
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
REI
Durham, NC

Mar 25-26
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Bijou Theatre
Knoxville, TN