After 13 years, The West Virginia FILMmakers Festival is trying something new.
For this year's festival, which will take place Oct. 4-6 at the Elk Theatre in Sutton, the organizers will accept film submissions from all over the world.
In previous years, submissions were only open to movies directly relating to the Mountain State.
Festival director Caitlin Campbell said the change is not an abandonment of the organization's founding objective to honor independent West Virginia, filmmakers, but an attempt to expand its horizons beyond the state's boarders.
"We're in a position to want to grow the festival," she said. "The only way this festival can really grow, since we're not a predominantly film state, is to have different films in it and different filmmakers to come and network so we can learn from each other."
Categories in the festival competition include: narrative feature, documentary feature, narrative short, documentary short, experimental/animation/music video and student films.
A three-person committee made up of past winners votes to choose the best selections in each category. Winners receive a $250 cash prize sponsored by local businesses in the Sutton area. Student film winners are awarded a $100 cash prize.
Throughout the festival the audiences can also cast their own votes for the "People Choice Award." This honor can be given to a film in any category that becomes a fan favorite.
Each year a "Filmmaker of the Year" is also selected. The award - the festival's highest honor - is reserved for native filmmakers whose work most embodies excellence in independent filmmaking that year.
Campbell, who is herself a filmmaker and former winner at the fest, said this award is as much about recognizing the state's film movement as a whole as it is about recognizing the contributions of the individual filmmakers themselves.
"It's someone who contributes to the state in a visual filmmaking style that brings West Virginia to the forefront," she said. "This award is for West Virginians, by West Virginians, about West Virginians and is really all about supporting this great state."
The recipient is presented with a bronze sculpture made by artist Bill Hopen and a $500 cash prize.
Campell said the cash prizes are intended to help filmmakers produce their work and support themselves while working on projects.
"When you're a filmmaker, you spend a lot of time in a dark room, getting it all put together and you eat peanut butter for weeks and months at time to get all your money together," she said. "So it is one of the areas that we look forward to raising the ceiling on our awards."
Past notable winners of the "Filmmaker of the Year" award include Morgan Spurlock - of "Super Size Me" fame - and celebrated PBS documentarian Mari-Lynn Evens.
The deadline for submitting an entry to this year's festival is Aug. 15.
For more information about the festival visit, https://sites .google.com/site/wvfilmmakers fest/home. To make a submission, visit the website's submissions tab and print of the submissions form. Mail completed forms to P.O box 382, Sutton, WV 26601.
COURTESY PHOTO The West Virginia FILMmakers Festival will be held in October at the Elk Theatre in Sutton. Contact writer Charles Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1796.
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