Two film festivals are taking place in Charlottesville Friday night, but they're not necessarily competing for the same crowd. Organizers of the events were disappointed to discover they are happening on the same day. However, each of them will be offering something unique, and both support good causes.
Light House Studios teaches young people to make films, and Friday's Youth Film Festival will be the showcase.
"It's probably the most important fundraiser of the year in terms of how many students they get to come out and how special the students get to feel. They'll be surrounded by adults who are dressed nicely and they're showing their own films," said Mariel Andersen, a former student who is now a youth mentor for Light House Studios. "And to these kids it feels like Hollywood," she said.
The festival has a family focus, but there is an adult atmosphere. "This event is for adult supporters and sponsors, and people who enjoy film," said Light House Studios Executive Director Deanna Gould. "The films are entertaining and they go on to win national awards."
There are youth tickets available and children are welcome. After all, they are the ones who made the films.
"There's this ceremony that makes them feel really special - confident - and makes them feel like the artist they are," Andersen said.
The Youth Film Festival, a fundraiser, will include a cocktail party reception followed by a one-hour show.
"It was so cool to watch our movie that we did everything for. It was so cool and I was so excited and proud of myself for making a movie," said Light House Studios student Riley Goodwin.
Andersen says that even though the filmmakers are kids, the films themselves are very professional.
"At the Youth Film Festival you will see films that characterize the plurality of youth culture, that kids are not just one entity with one set of desires and creative ideas," she said. "There's just as much diversity in the minds of young people as there are with the minds of Hollywood filmmakers, if not more diversity and creativity, I would argue," she said.
That's something Riley agrees with. She says young filmmakers have a unique perspective that the film festival audience might enjoy. What Riley and her group thought of was a film called "The Virus."
"It's about these two girls and there's a problem with their computer, they get a virus in it so they have to go into the computer and go and fight it," said seventh-grade student Mila Cesaretti, who was in Riley Goodwin's group.
The three group members wrote, shot, acted in, and edited the film. "It was really fun actually. I liked filming a lot," said seventh-grade student Maddie Root, who plays the role of the virus in the film. "We kid of had a lot of humor in it, that, it was funny."
Making movies is fun for the students, but it's also a serious endeavor for many of them. Proceeds from the festival will be a major contributor to Light House Studios' budget, so they can continue programming for film students. It's an endeavor that's very important to former student Andersen, who said she lost herself creatively trying to fit in and be popular in school until she learned about Light House.
"I thought that no one shared my love of cinema and I had no idea that a love of cinema could actually be a thing I could follow," she said. "So I started taking classes at Light House and that's when I started meeting the first real friends I had since elementary school."
The Light House Film Festival costs $77.50 for adults and $21 for students - the proceeds go to support their programs.
"Because of Light House I've been able to make films that not only sounded professional on paper but were professional and enabled me to meet empowered people in my community. Without Light House I don't think I'd have the success I have had as a student and as a budding filmmaker," Andersen said.
Things get underway Friday evening at 6:30 at the Jefferson Theater.
Across town, an event for a different audience. New Belgium Brewing's Clips Beer and Film Tour will feature short independent films and craft beer sales. It's geared toward young adults, and organizers are supporting sustainability efforts. They estimate a quarter of attendees with travel by bike, and a bike cruiser will be raffled off at the event.
It's a traveling festival that goes to more than 20 cities in the U.S. In each city, 100 percent of proceeds go to area nonprofits. In its fourth year, the tour has raised more than $250,000 for the nonprofits it partners with.
In Charlottesville, the money will go to Better World Betty, an organization that helps businesses become more environmentally sustainable, and Charlottesville Area Mountain Biking Club (CAMBC) which works to keep local and regional trails open and develop new trail-riding opportunities. Organizers brand the festival as a "beer-toting, film-traveling, nonprofit-benefiting show."
"There will be mystery games, and beer gypsies, and all kind of fun activities for craft beer brewers and bikers and people who care about the environment," said Teri Kent, the program manager for Better World Betty.
New Belgium Brewing is the maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and several other Belgian-inspired beers. Up to 16 beer varieties will be on tap. Three-ounce samples will be sold for $1.25, 12-ounce beer will be sold for $5. People are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to lounge on the grass.
New Belgium selects approximately 20 short films for the tour each season. This year, the chosen films include "Mastering the Technique of Dice Rolling," "The Quest for the Ultimate Full Moon Shot," "A Duel to be the Hippest Hipster," and "Homebrewing in a Small New York City Apartment." Organizers say it's a diverse and highly entertaining line-up.
Admission to the New Clips Beer and Film Tour is free. It gets underway at 7 p.m. Friday at Washington Park.
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