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Winter 2002

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The Miracle Worker

Second WV Filmmakers Festival a success

After six months of planning and preparation, the second West Virginia Filmmakers Festival was held in Sutton during early October. The first festival, last February, showcased such state filmmakers as Danny Boyd, John Nakashima, Jacob Young and Braxton County’s own Betty Rivard. In hopes of milder weather and to better feature the wide variety of films being produced within the state, the festival was moved to the fall.

The festival began October 2 with a showing of Russell Crowe’s breakthrough Australian film, Romper Stomper, in recognition of Crowe’s lead role as West Virginia native John Nash in the upcoming film version of A Beautiful Mind. Sylvia Nasar, prize- winning author of the biography on which the new film is based, was the keynote speaker at the West Virginia Book Festival, also held in October.

Wednesday was Clyde Ware Night. Morgantown filmmaker Chip Hitchcock presented a ten-minute documentary of the native West Virginian writer and film director. Hitchcock’s piece will air in January on public television’s “West Virginia Journal.” Clips from the more than 200 television shows written or directed by Ware were presented, in addition to a promotional for his newest production, Rough Diamonds. Ware had previously spent two months in state scouting for this million-dollar independent production. Also shown was his 1971 movie, No Drums, No Bugles, starring Martin Sheen and shot entirely in West Virginia.

Thursday night was Appalshop in West Virginia Night. Appalshop, a regional media arts center in Eastern Kentucky, has produced more than 100 films over the last 25 years. Appalshop filmmakers Mimi Pickering and Anne Lewis presented two one-hour films based on the state. Pickering introduced her documentary on Hazel Dickens, It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song, and Lewis presented her film Shelter, about a Greenbrier County women’s shelter. The event was followed with a dinner at Cimino in honor of Pickering and Lewis, hosted by Kevin Carpenter, president of Landmark Studio.
Anne Lewis behind camera
Anne Lewis
Chillers video cover

Friday night saw the presentation of two documentaries by Joshua Tunick, Mr. Smithereen Goes to Washington and Scars Don’t Sweat. Tunick, who grew up in Morgantown, has returned here in the past to shoot a documentary on mountain biker Gunnar Shogren. Festival participants were able to discuss the problems of documentary production with Tunick.

Saturday was the premier showing of a new feature on UFOs in the Mountain State, The Lights. Filmmaker Ray Schmitt presented a rough cut of this film, which used computer technology as part of its production. In addition, Danny Boyd’s Chillers was shown.

The festival ended Sunday, October 7 with two movies by Iranian-born Laleh Mehran, now a professor of fine arts at West Virginia University. Professor Mehran’s work has been exhibited internationally.

Festival organizers Steve Fesenmaier and Kevin Carpenter have already begun planning for next October. Interested filmmakers should contact Steve Fesenmaier at the West Virginia Library Commission. Phone Steve at 304-558-2041, extension 2015, or e-mail: fesenms@