RALEIGH — Celebrate with Longleaf Film Festival and the North Carolina Museum of History on Friday, April 30, and Friday–Saturday, May 14 and 15. Now scheduled as a virtual event for 2021, Longleaf is an annual film festival that highlights the best of independent film in a place that recognizes filmmakers and film fans DO make history. Our weekend festival screens films that demonstrate a Tar Heel State connection, through the people involved in making them or through their subject. For the second year, due to continuing pandemic restrictions, Longleaf 2021 will be a virtual, online event.
This is the acclaimed film festival’s seventh annual event, and organizer Sally Bloom is excited about some of Longleaf’s newest offerings. “For us, as for everyone, 2020 was—and 2021 continues to be—tumultuous. We pivoted Longleaf 2020 to a virtual program; at the time, it was one of the first in-person–to–virtual-event exchanges in our area. While we had hopes of gathering in-person for 2021, safety protocols require Longleaf 2021 to be virtual again, and we are thrilled with the resilience of our filmmaking and film fan community, and we eagerly look forward to this year’s events.”
“Official Selection films for this year have already been announced. And, on April 30, at 7 p.m., we will announce this year’s award-winning films in a live-stream program. We are excited to share trailers and more about these engaging and creative films,” Bloom continued. “Then on May 14–15, dozens of our Official Selection films, all with North Carolina or past Longleaf Film Festival connections, will be available for free viewing, online, thanks to the generosity of those filmmakers. Plus, we will be hosting two virtual workshops, this year, and a live Q&A session with some Longleaf filmmakers! It’s going to be an indie-film bonanza.”
On Saturday, May 15, Longleaf has scheduled a morning panel, “Black Lives in the Carolinas, 1938–1978,” and an afternoon workshop, Legal Basics for Indie Filmmakers. In addition, film fans are invited to join Official Selection filmmakers for a live Q&A session in the evening.
Check out all the Official Selection films and our Schedule of Events at LongleafFilmFestival.com. From there, attendees can find complete descriptions of programs and register for panels—and the Q&A session, too.
Sampler of Longleaf 2021 Official Selection Films: Each of the films streamed at Longleaf has amazing on-screen and behind-the-camera stories; here is a sampling:
Abi Cole, Between the Lines: Liz at Large, Documentary Short: Liz Montague, the first black female cartoonist for The New Yorker, discusses her process and shares how cartoons can be critical vehicles for social commentary. Cole filmed the documentary shortly before COVID-19 lockdowns, in one day with a one-person crew. She connected with Liz Montague, by cold emailing her and wishing for the best.
Kemari Bryant, Inspace, Spoken Word Production: Inspace is an exploration of Black bodies in White space, through the mediums of dance and film. An unconventional narrative, the film follows Bryant’s experience growing up in a predominantly White school.
Thomas Espy, Stevie Jefferis, Cassie Harding, Frank Carroll, Remembering Willie Earle, Documentary Short: Seventy-plus years ago, Willie Earle was taken from a jail in Pickens, South Carolina, and murdered by a mob. Now, his childhood friend “AQ” remembers—in a community that wants to forget. This film began as a class project at Davidson College.
Evan Kidd, Panda Bear It, Narrative Feature: Rapper Kamus Leonardo’s world is upended at the sudden death of his girlfriend, Destiny. To make matters worse—he’s hanging out with a panda bear! Director Kidd shot the film in seven production days across North Carolina, and it features an original song by Durham Rapper Kamus Leonardo, “You’re Not Alone.”
Isaac Fowler, Tim Morris, She Carries On, Documentary Short: Among the Cherokee people in North Carolina, the cultural tradition of stickball exemplifies more than a game. Cherokee women played the game at the turn of the 21st century for several years; they now reflect on their time playing and what the game means to the past, present, and future of Cherokee people.
Daniel Robert Smith, Sideways, Narrative Short: Best friends Kurt and Carter find out that living together may not be as easy as they thought when their competing lifestyles begin to crash. After a huge argument, Carter wakes up to find his gravity has shifted to the wall—he has gone sideways! Smith and his team are 2020 graduates of the School of Filmmaking, UNC School of the Arts.
L. Ash, “Spotlight,” Music Video: “Spotlight” is the official music video for Barnaby Bright’s 2021 single. This animated music video explores fame and celebrity in the volatile age of social media. Ash spent about 2,700 hours hand-drawing the 6,800 individual frames.
AhDream Smith, Happy Anniversary, Narrative Short: A first-time director, Smith is training to receive her MFA in the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and is also a resident actor at PlayMakers Repertory Company. Her film is a story about unfulfilled expectations, conceived from an original monologue written out of frustration due to how higher-level institutions were not showing up for their students, especially at the graduate level.
Christopher Zaluski, Theirs Is the Kingdom, Documentary Feature: A film examining the intersection of poverty and portraiture, Theirs Is the Kingdom follows the rare creation of a contemporary fresco mural inside the sanctuary of a small church in Asheville. The fresco is not of the rich and powerful, but of people battling homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. From first sketch to final unveiling, viewers witness the difficulties of this ancient artistic technique while also meeting an ensemble cast of rich, complex characters.
Margaret Tower, 2,190 Miles, High School Student film, Narrative Short: Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Mark and Katie are a good match. Planning to propose, Mark panics about finding the perfect moment to pop the question. Made under strict COVID-19 protocols, most of the film was shot in Mill Mountain Park in Roanoke, Virginia.
“Many other stories will be shared during Longleaf 2021,” says Bloom, “and we need the connections that film brings us, now more than ever. Join us as we celebrate film, fun, and community.”
Sponsors for Longleaf Film Festival 2021 include media sponsor CBS17 News and WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio.