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Supporting the Indies

Cape Fear Independent Film Festival
May 9th-12th • Cost: $7-$65
Wilmington Convention Center,
Browncoat Pub and Theatre,
Beam Room, TheatreNOW

MOVIE WITH HEART: John Ward’s ‘Heart of the Country’ will be the Invitational Feature at the Cape Fear Independent Film Fetsival. Courtesy photo.

MOVIE WITH HEART: John Ward’s ‘Heart of the Country’ will be the Invitational Feature at the Cape Fear Independent Film Fetsival. Courtesy photo.

It’s a monster year for film in Wilmington. Film production has never been at a more fevered pitch with Hollywood blockbusters and multiple TV series filming all over the region. There’s a lot of activity and that’s part of what the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival tries to capture every year.

This year is no different as the festival will bring in a slate of films from across the region and globe from May 9th through May 12th. “The goal is always to put together something that engages and entertains” festival director Rich Gehron says. “As a professional and fan of film, I want the films that we showcase to be enjoyed. The kind of films you walk out of feeling affected by whether it’s something that makes you think, laugh or squirm in your seat.”

The Cape Fear Independent Film Festival stands apart from others in the region. First off, it’s completely volunteer-run, even down to Gehron, who does not get paid for his work in the event. “We come together every year to try to give something back to this great community,” he says.

Secondly, CFIFF is the only competitive film festival in the region, offering awards for films and even a cash prize. Their annual Wilmington Film Awards will be held Sunday, May 12th, the last day of the festival, in the Beam Room at Front Street Brewery, hosted by Jeffrey Holler, a.k.a. Dutch Hawk, a former radio personality, as well as actor and lead singer of the band Dutch Treet. Awards are given in 10 categories, including Best Local Film, Best Horror, Best Documentary and Best Feature. For 2013, they are adding a new award, Best Screenplay, to honor the career and memory of screenwriter and Wilmington native Don Payne. Payne was well-known for his long-standing work on “The Simpsons,” and penning scripts for “The Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and “Thor.” Payne lost his battle with sarcoma in March.

“We were absolutely floored when we heard about Don’s passing,” Gehron recalls. “Here was a guy from Wilmington that made big contributions to Hollywood. Yet, he continued to love Wilmington and support its local film community.”

Another added twist to the 2013 festival will be its partnership with Port City Pop Con (pages 28-29), which will feature two days of screenings at their inaugural event. The cross-promotional venture was the brainchild of pop con programmer Mike Roberts and festival assistant director Will Mullins. “It just made sense,” Mullins says. “Superhero and pop-culture movies have been a huge part of Wilmington’s film history.”

Indeed, the film industry began with Stephen King’s “Firestarter.” Over decades it’s been home to productions like, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “The Crow,” and most recently “Iron Man 3.” “I think both events will attract a similar audience,” Gehron states of both festivals—“people who want to see great films and celebrate the best pop culture has to offer.”

In addition to holding screenings at the Wilmington Convention Center during Port City Pop-Con, there will be special pricing for pass holders of each event. Folks who purchase a pop con ticket will receive 20 percent off any ticket purchase to a film screening. Folks who purchase a film fest all-access pass will will get 20 percent off a pass.

This year’s film festival continues to build upon a strong focus of local and regional filmmakers, featuring a lineup with a distinct local touch. Here are a few we’re looking forward to seeing.

By John Ward
Friday, May 11th, 8 p.m.
Wilmington Convention Center
This Wilmington-based feature will be making its premiere at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival. A story of loss and recovery, and the importance of forgiving the ones you love, Wilmington native and director John Ward returns to his hometown to showcase this tearjerking heart-warmer. Starring veteran actor of stage and screen Gerald McRaney and “One Tree Hill” alum Jana Kramer, “Heart of the Country” is the Invitational Feature of the festival.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the director and producers.

By Jordan Allen
Thursday, May 9th, 7:30 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theatre
In this anachronistic crime story, vintage mobsters roam the modern-day world with Tommy guns. The film has a distinct visual aesthetic and feels like a throwback to great black-and-white mob movies of the Golden Age of cinema.

Saturday, May 11th, 11 a.m. (free event)
Wilmington Convention Center
Folks will get an inside look at the making of an independent short film. From The Broken Heart Productions, the 19-minute short “Superhero” will screen, with a cast-and-crew-led discussion following. They will discuss techniques used to make the film, with helpful tips for beginner filmmakers. This discussion is aimed at student filmmakers and is free to the public, and held in conjunction with the Port City Pop Con festival (see pages 28-29. The cast and crew will be on hand for a special autograph session after the screening.

By Michael Ferrell
Saturday, May 11th, 1 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theatre
When Brian’s new girlfriend, a stand-up comedian, suddenly disappears, he enlists the help of his broken-hearted best friend and imaginary characters from a cliché romantic comedy to find her.
Shot in New York and New Jersey in 12 days for $12,000—raised entirely online through crowd funding on—the director, Michael Ferrell, is a graduate of Hoggard High in Wilmington and now lives and works in New Jersey.

Other highlights include:
Friday, May 10th, 7 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theater
With an elite force, Doron enters Lebanon to complete his last mission. Very soon he discovers a new enemy, and Hezbollah is the last thing on his mind. Al Qaeda meets “Resident Evil”! If you’re looking for a “bloody” good time, don’t miss one of the very first horror films to come out of Israel (film is Hebrew with English subtitles) as part of its world premiere at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival.

By Jessica Sue Burstein
Saturday, May 11th, 3:30 p.m.
Wilmington Convention Center
In an attempt to save money on her tropical vacation, a savvy New Yorker invites a German tourist to share a cab in search of the perfect ocean view to spend her last night. With the mosquitoes and heat, neither can sleep and end up sharing secrets under the stars.
NC born writer and actress, Jessica Sue Burstein is a senior writer for SYFY Channel. She will hold a Q&A session after the screening of “Chicken,” a NC premiere.

For more information and a full list of screening times and locations, be sure to visit the festival website at

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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