The reel deal on the 7th annual festival: Nov. 12 to 15

The Asheville Film Festival returns this year with a crop of short films, animation, documentaries, features and student works. That's in addition to the expected excitement of the opening and closing night films, the awards ceremony on Saturday and the free film-making workshops and talks happening all three days of the festival: from Thursday, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Nov. 15.

Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts organizers said this year's festival would focus on films, without the traditional special guests and red-carpet ceremonies. And they've stuck with that—there are only two events other than screenings (a Thursday premiere night reception and a Saturday night awards after-party, both at Pack Place).

Read on for a guide to the feature-length films, along with some Xpress-recommended highlights, including films made by local directors (Paul Schattel's latest, a short film from Paul Bonesteel and others), or touching on topics of big interest to the local community (old-time music, organic food). Complete synopses of films in each genre are available at mountainx.com.

Individual tickets are $8 advance / $9 during festival, student tickets are $5, cinematic six pack is $39
(6 screening tickets to 6 different films, must select films at time of purchase) and Reel Deal is $65 (10 screening tickets to 10 different films selected at time of purchase). Tickets are only sold at the Pack Place Box Office or at 257-4500, not at individual venues. So get 'em early.

Venues are:

Fine Arts Theatre, 36 Biltmore Ave. 232-1536, www.fineartstheatre.com.
Diana Wortham Theatre, Pack Place, 2 S. Pack Square, 257-4530, www.dwtheatre.com
Asheville Community Theatre, 35 E. Walnut St., 253-4931, www.ashevilletheatre.org and 35 Below (beneath ACT)
YMI Cultural Center, 39 S. Market St. 252-4614. www.ymicc.org.

And for those looking to expand their knowledge, take note: There's a bevy of free workshops on everything from screenwriting to Final Cut Pro. All are open to the public, and we've included the schedules.

This year's film judges: Matt Brunson, film editor of Charlotte's Creative Loafing, Felicia Feaster, senior editor at The Atlantan, Ken Hanke, film critic at the Mountain Xpress, Lawrence Toppman, film critic at The Charlotte Observer, and Sam Watson, cofounder and chairman of the State of Franklin Film Society.

Winners in each category earn a $500 prize and will be announced at the It's a WRAP event at Pack Place on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. Audience awards will also be chosen. More info at www.ashevillefilmfestival.com.

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