Due to COVID-19, Tryon International Film Festival 2020 will be held largely online, offering a larger selection of films to a worldwide audience, along with a handful of in-person events in Tryon itself. The festival will begin Friday, October 9, with a virtual gala including an opening film, and will conclude Sunday, October 11, with a closing awards ceremony online. For eight days following the festival — October 12-19 — the festival’s curated films will be presented on-demand through its website.
“Although it will be sad not to have the world’s cinema elite visit our little mountain town as it has for the past five years, we have struck a balance between safety, logistics, celebration, and the creativity of emerging cinema,” says Beau Menetre, festival co-founder and director of operations. “By showing all of our films online, anyone on the planet with Internet access will be able to see them safely, and the window of opportunity to see them will be eight days at any time day or night. Normally, people have only a few days to see films at a festival, and often there are conflicting times.”
For the past five years, Tryon International Film Festival has drawn actors, filmmakers, producers, and patrons from around the world to the small town of Tryon. Through its film selections, the festival has established itself as a champion for oppressed people of the world. In addition to the expected film categories, such as full-length feature, the Tryon Film Festival has the special category of “Human Rights and Dignity.” In 2019, the USA-made full-length film “Foster Boy,” directed by Youssef Delara, was chosen “Best Full-Length Narrative Feature” and it received the “Human Rights and Dignity” award. The film also won awards at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville and the Woodstock Film Festival in New York.
“This film festival will have special meaning to me,” Menetre says. “Late last year, my teenage daughter Sabian died from a drug overdose, something that has changed my personal perspective as a parent and as a human being. I am dedicating this year’s Tryon International Film Festival to her, and it is my hope and prayer that in some way some of these films will shed light on personal loss, drugs, and coping.”
To that end, festival organizers are planning to show “Overdosed,” a documentary by filmmaker Mary Sue Connolly that highlights the troubling turmoil of the deadly American opioid crisis as it unfolds in the small town of Petersburg in rural West Virginia, the state hardest hit by this epidemic. Through interviews with former drug dealers, over-prescribing doctors, DEA agents and local community members, Connolly uncovers a shocking narrative of the pharmaceutical industry’s intentional plan to target opioid sales to an impoverished, under-served community and the resulting addiction, prison and overdose cycles of its citizens.
The festival’s team members are currently building a new website and creating the ways and means for patrons to participate. “By tapping into an established online film festival platform, we are making ourselves available to the entire world – not just the several hundred people who normally come to the festival. And, it will be very price friendly,” says Kirk Gollwitzer, co-founder and director of content and media communications. “For only $25 you’ll have all-access to all of the films. We’ll probably have 80 to 85 films this year. Since people can’t travel to us, ‘We Take You There,’” he said, quoting the festival’s 2020 slogan.
Tryon International Film Festival is a non-profit enterprise with a mission to present the newest and most-promising films of the world through the lens of the small mountain town of Tryon. This year’s festival is presented by New View Realty of Tryon. For more information about the festival, visit TryonInternationalFilmFestival.com.