A Screened Affair: The Cape Fear Independent Film Festival highlights and rewards creative output

Apr 29 • ARTSY SMARTSY, FEATURE BOTTOM, FilmNo Comments on A Screened Affair: The Cape Fear Independent Film Festival highlights and rewards creative output

For 14 years, the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival (CFIFF) has focused on regional filmmakers, and cultivated a strong identity for an eclectic blend of films, panels and ceremonies locally. “We give filmmakers a platform and an opportunity to present their talents and hard work to an audience and to communicate their ideas,” first-year festival director Joyce Fernando says. “Attendees are able to view the result of a filmmaker’s passion come to life onscreen, which can, and does in most instances, inspire.”
Don't Know Yet
Fernando, active in the Wilmington arts community since 2001, has contributed to past CFIFF events as a volunteer. She boasts CFIFF because of the intimacy it offers.

“Festival-goers have the opportunity to see and meet filmmakers and cast members one-on-one,” she notes. “It is a very relaxed atmosphere.  [This year] we have worked hard to create a schedule and [add] venues that will allow for attendees to see the majority of the films we are showing this year.”

CFIFF continues its annual awards ceremony to celebrate the best films in a number of categories, but also to recognize the hard work put forth from its creators. This year inaugurates two new monikers for their slate of honors. Filmmaker Karen Labbe has helped put together the first award honoring female directors. This year to recognize will introduce a screenwriting award, “The Don,” named for screenwriter Don Payne (“The Simpsons,” “Thor: The Dark World”), originally from Wilmington, who passed away last year.  Honored for his love of screenwriting, acting, filmmaking, and the support he selflessly and secretly gave to younger, up-and-coming artists, The Don winner will be chosen by “The Simpson’s” producer Joel H. Cohen.

The backbone of the festival is, of course, the films. This years’ festival has a wide array of offerings, with all-access passes going for $50 and individual screening tickets running from $8-$10. The entire lineup of films, artist panels, and award ceremonies can be found at www.cfifn.org, but here’s a look at some of the highlights:

One Armed Man
Directed by Tim Guinee
Saturday, May 3rd • 1 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theatre • 111 Grace St.

CW Rowe owns a cotton gin in Harrison, Texas, and his success leads him to whole-heartedly believe in the American dream. The only thing disrupting his oblivious notions are his weekly visits from Ned, who lost an arm in the gin’s machinery. Not all there, Ned believes CW can give back his arm, and a chilling drama unfolds.

Director Tim Guinee was extremely passionate about the material. “Written in 1985, [the script is] a cautionary tale about the danger of stratifying our treatment of other human beings,” Guinee explains. “When I read it almost 30 years after it was written, I realized it is a prophetic and relevant social-issue drama. We now live in a world where top executives make thousands of times [more] money [than] workers on the factory floor. However one may feel about this conversation, the popularity of movements like Occupy Wall Street show that the discussion is still alive, current and energetic.”

The story comes from renowned playwright Horton Foote, also Guinee’s father-in-law.  Guinee is best known in Wilmington as Ben from the NBC series “Revolution,” which filmed much of its first season in town. Every independent film has to deal with obstacles, but Guinee found himself dealing with a great deal more than the usual hurdles a filmmaker faces.

“My father died during the week of pre-production,” he details. “He had suffered the twin degradations of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for years. His death wasn’t unexpected, but, like the death of any parent, it was shocking and monumental. I had to make a decision whether to attend his funeral or continue on and make the movie.”

Guinee’s film has received a great deal of praise from notable talents like Robert Duvall, director Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon.

The Cabining
Directed by Steve Kopera
Saturday, May 3rd • 7 p.m.
Thalian Hall Studio Theater • 310 Chestnut St.

Jeff Goodwin has a long history in the Wilmington area, boasting credits that go back to the earliest productions in our area with films like “Cat’s Eye,” “Blue Velvet” and “Raw Deal.” The makeup effects veteran will talk about his work in today’s industry, and what has and has not changed over the years. Essentially, he will providethree decades of perspective. Also, his seminar will be followed by feature horror film “The Cabining.”

“The Cabining” tells the story of two hapless screenwriters, who get one last chance to make it big, thanks to a benevolent uncle. Yet, the offer comes with the stipulation: to be completed in two weeks. In order to focus, the the protagonists go to an artists’ retreat, and one-by-one the artists start dying.

Imagine I’m Beautiful
Directed by Meredith Edwards
Saturday, May 3rd  • 7:30 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theatre • 111 Grace St.

The reality-bending drama, “Imagine I’m Beautiful,”directed by UNC Wilmington graduate Meredith Edwards, chronicles the life of Lana. The young woman moves to New York to begin a new life after her mother’s sudden death. After moving in with Kate—a testy young woman who recently miscarried and broke up with her long-term boyfriend, Geoff—Lana begins to win Kate’s friendship. As they become increasingly dependent on one another, Lana feels as though she has created a new family. This “family”soon includes Lana’s new boyfriend, Massi, and Geoff, now back in Kate’s life thanks to a reunion orchestrated by Lana.

Kate’s newfound happiness is threatened, as she is unable to fully recover in such a brief time. Consequently, she can’t bring herself to be intimate with Geoff again. Lana begins sleeping with Geoff, preventing him from seeking sex elsewhere. Placated that her family is secure for the moment, Lana places a call to her supposedly dead mother, Dorothy. This phone call results in a very much alive Dorothy coming face-to-face with Kate. Dorothy and Kate confront Lana, forcing her to face the truth of her colliding realities.

Don’t Know Yet
Directed by Terry Linehan
Friday, May 2nd • 7:30pm
Thalian Hall Studio Theater • 310 Chestnut St.

After a career as a tall-ship sailor and boat-builder, Terry Linehan joined the UNCW Film Studies Department in 2000 as a lecturer. He teaches courses in screenwriting and film production, as well as oversees the internship program. He was a 2003 semifinalist in the Academy Award Foundation’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and he has optioned six screenplays, including projects for Cher and Gregory Hines. Terry studied screenwriting with Robert McKee, Janet Roach and Michael Hauge.

His first feature, “Don’t Know Yet,” tells the story of a lost soul adrift in misery. A heartbroken man lets the hitchhikers he collects determine his direction and destiny. Everything changes when he meets a free-spirited woman who guides him on a journey of healing and self-discovery while hiding a secret of her own.

The film features a notable collection of talented actors with ties to the region, including David Andrews, Cullen Moss and Shane Callahan. Linehan has secured digital distribution for the feature, and this will be the last opportunity to see the film on the big screen.

Actor for Hire
Directed by Marcus Mizelle
Friday, May 2nd • 8 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theatre • 111 Grace St.

Marcus Mizelle spent a number of years working in Wilmington before migrating to Hollywood to take the next step in his career. He returns to Wilmington’s port city to scree his latest endeavor, “Actor for Hire.”

“The inspiration for ‘Actor for Hire’ came when I was between directing music videos, and the usual urge to find the next narrative struck,” he tells. “I was sitting in the backyard, talking with my friend and neighbor Jesse. He began telling me about his usual week of shortcomings as an aspiring actor here in Los Angeles. Jesse’s real-life situations and comedic reactions to them had me laughing immediately;  needless to say, the light bulb went off. An exaggerated version of his current life was the next project. It also was a chance to highlight the various absurdities and clichés of LA [and] celebrity culture, which I find super interesting.”

Soon enough Mizelle was assembling a cast and crew in the greater Los Angeles area to put together the short film series. Mizelle talked a little about the differences between shooting on the East Coast and West Coast.

“It’s harder to secure locations [in LA], as almost every single establishment isn’t impressed if you have a movie idea and a camera,” he notes. “They just want money, and the last group probably destroyed the place. In Wilmington, people are certainly more about getting on board. Wilmington is a special creative bubble, perfect for creative execution. I can’t wait to shoot there again with my friends.”

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