Step out on the pier, take a tour of N.C. breweries, get a look at circus life

Films with local ties include:

Alison

Alison examines the inner world of a pregnant, 30-something woman as she navigates the treacherous waters of self-doubt and self-destruction. Written and directed in collaboration with the cast, the movie explores a life at the point of no return — how we shape and are shaped, how the trying and transformational forces inside us and around us can sometimes do us good and sometimes do us harm.

Mostly improvised, and captured in a quick storm of spontaneity in and around the Asheville area, the movie was realized without an actual shooting script, the filmmakers feeling their way through the collaborative process, trusting their instincts and allowing the story to sometimes shape itself. The result is a thoughtful and darkly compelling portrait of a woman in crisis — beautifully photographed and bravely acted, and told with a raw, unerring honesty.

Director/Producer: Paul Schattel

Beer Y'all

Follows seven friends (including local Curt Arledge) as they travel across North Carolina, touring 27 microbreweries and brewpubs from the mountains to the coast in a seatless cargo van. The film follows their nine days of hanging out with brewers, partying at rock shows and drinking many beers as they celebrate friendship, music and the rise of the Southern craft brewing economy.

Director/Editor: Curt Arledge
Producers: Curt Arledge and Will Arledge

Golden Side of the Tracks

From the sea to the mountains: Above, from Paul Bonesteel's Pier, a scene of the Ocean Crest Pier at N.C.'s Oak Island. Below, Jessica Bachar and Bryan Marshall in Alison, produced by Paul Schattel. Above photo courtesy Paul Bonesteel Films

WNC filmmaker David Weintraub's film tells the story of Overtown, Fla., once hailed as the "Harlem of the South" because it became a center of black commerce and nightclubs. Like the founding of many southern cities, the story of Overtown is one of a thriving community decimated by the extension of I-95 in the 1960s. "Even today the blacks who helped to found cities like Asheville are invisible," Weintraub says. "I created this film in the hopes it would inspire a discussion about the major contributions blacks had in building many southern cities, including those in North Carolina."

Director/Producer: David Weintraub

Pier

Ocean Crest Pier — a haven for hardcore fisherman, retirees, transients and tourists — overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on North Carolina's Oak Island. Pier captures thoughts and images from a single day in the life of a classic American scene.

Director: Paul Bonesteel
Producer: Matthew Geuert, Paul Bonesteel

Tearing Down the Tent

The film grants backstage access to America's largest traveling tent circus, the Cole Brothers Circus. The film presents the show through the eyes of Jamie Reel, 31, joining the circus and working alongside performers and vendors. The film looks to discover the real story behind one of America's longest-running pastimes.

Director: Michael Knox
Producer: Martin Ramsey, Ryan Haggerty

We Love You

Three-time Academy Award-nominated producer Steve Kalafer's film takes you to a 2008 Rainbow Gathering, the mystical city that is co-created once a year. In the remote meadows and forests of Wyoming, the film chronicles the Rainbow people, their campfire music, drum circles and prayer, and the subsequent shooting of tear gas at participants.

Director: Jonathan Kalafer
Producer: Steve Kalafer, Jonathan Kalafer, Joe DeVito III and Phil DiFore

Other documentary highlights

Rocaterrania (recommended by local filmmaker Michael Knox)

Scientific illustrator and visionary artist Renaldo Kuhler unveils the illustrated history of Rocaterrania, the imaginary country he created, as a means to escape from an emotionally abusive family and search for freedom and identity.

Photo courtesy Harrow Beauty Productions

Renaldo grew up in the shadow of his father, Otto Kuhler, a German immigrant who became a famous industrial designer and acclaimed landscape painter. When Otto moved his family from upstate New York to a remote Colorado cattle ranch in 1948, teenaged Renaldo found the isolation unbearable and escaped to the private fantasy world of his notebooks. What began as the illustrated history of an imaginary country called "Rocaterrania" became Renaldo's lifelong obsession. The film unveils Kuhler's astounding body of work to the world and addresses themes of the insidious nature of conformity, the courage to be one's true self and the redemptive power of artistic creation. Featuring an eclectic original score by Merge Records recording artists Shark Quest.

Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer: Brett Ingram

What's "Organic" About Organic?

A headfirst dive into the challenges that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. The film illustrates conflicts that come when organic principles are compromised to fit an industrial food system, and provides insight for certification systems taking root across our society — from green building to fair trade — showing the pitfalls that can arise when idealism is formalized into a label.

Director/Producer: Shelley Rogers
Producer: Emily Triantaphyllis

With These Hands: The Story of An American Furniture Factory

The Hooker Furniture Co. in Martinsville, Va., started as an 800,000-square-foot plant in 1924 and shut down in March 2007. With These Hands shows the last load of kiln-dried wood and introduces a number of the workers, getting their perspectives on work, community and survival in a country devastated by deindustrialization and outsourcing. Yet, this film affirms that America is a country of doers.

Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Matthew Barr

Why Old Time?

The filmmakers began with a simple question: "Why old time?" What they found is that old-time music isn't just a sound: It's a lifestyle. It's living history. And it's the musicians that drive it ever forward while maintaining an untarnished musical tradition. This film is a look at the culture through the eyes of those who love, live and breathe the music. It shows why their preservation efforts are so vital to this culture.

Director/Producer: Chris Valluzzo
Producer/Director: Sean Kotz

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