Stuart Howes grew up in Chapel Hill, graduated from UNC, and has now made a feature film he describes as “a love letter to Chapel Hill and Carrboro.”
Carrboro Film Fest’s Opening Night Film, Tableau, is a family drama that was filmed at a number of recognizable locations in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, including Carolina Coffee Shop, Merritt’s Grill, and Weaver Street Market. In the film, a family’s bonds are put to the test after a young woman learns that her mother has had an affair. Tableau screens on Friday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m., with Howes and a number of the cast and crew attending for a Q&A after the screening.
The festival returns for its 17th year, Nov. 18 – 20. Taking place at The ArtsCenter, Carrboro Film Fest brings to the big screen a distinct combination of award-winning and North Carolina-based films. The festival continues its mission to showcase a variety of new Southern films and provide a venue to both celebrate and interrogate Southern culture. This year’s lineup includes seven blocks of short films and two features, representing diverse filmmakers from across the South.
“What distinguishes Carrboro Film Fest from other festivals is that the films mean so much more because of their Southern connection,” says festival director Bradley Bethel. “Plus, our more intimate venue allows audience members to interact with the filmmakers more. It’s a community experience as much as it's a film experience.”
The Closing Night Film, The Smell of Money, was written and produced by North Carolina native Jamie Berger. Revealing the environmental racism resulting from the pollution produced by factory pork farms in eastern NC, the documentary has screened and won awards at major film festivals across the country. The Smell of Money focuses on the story of Elsie Herring, a community activist who had been standing up to factory farms for more than 30 years, fighting for her community’s rights to clean air and pure water. The film screens on Sunday, Nov. 20, 4:15 p.m., and Berger will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening.
More than 20 other films based in North Carolina are included among the seven blocks of short films. One such film is “First Final Ride,” a documentary short about a quirky festival for hearse drivers in Beaufort, NC. Another documentary short, “Inner Mounting Flame,” reveals the story of North Carolina musician and rock climbing legend Mike Stam. Narrative shorts are also included, such as “Ma’s Kitchen,” a family drama portraying the complicated relationship between a Vietnamese immigrant and her daughter. The full schedule of films can be found at carrborofilm.org.
“Carrboro Film Fest is essential to the life of the community,” Bethel said. “It’s essential because it’s one of the best opportunities to meaningfully gather with friends and strangers and reflect on our culture. Ultimately, Carrboro Film Fest is about way more than entertainment: it’s about building and nourishing our community.”
Carrboro Film Fest is made possible with support from the Town of Carrboro and the Carrboro Tourism Development Authority.