Tess Harper: “This whole area has a very mystical feel to it”

For Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated actress Tess Harper, Asheville is an area like no other.

“This whole area has a very mystical feel to it — like something very old,” Harper tells Xpress, noting that it reminds her of the Ozarks, where she grew up. “It’s so beautiful and I feel filled with life whenever I visit here.”

Harper will return to Asheville, where she filmed Tim Kirkman’s 2005 movie Loggerheads, to receive the Career Achievement Award at the 2007 Asheville Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 8 to 11.

She describes her time filming Loggerheads as “absolutely wonderful”, adding that “for me, the filming of a movie is as much a part as seeing the final product. After all, by the time I see it in debut, it can have been a year or so since I finished my part in it.”

The area’s past is another draw for Harper, a history enthusiast who minored in the subject in her college days.

“Every time I’m in the Carolinas, I go traveling around to find out about the forgotten war here — the Revolutionary War. In Asheville, I want to see where poor Zelda [Fitzgerald] finished off her life and pay my respects — and of course pay my respects to Thomas Wolfe too — you really can’t go home again,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve heard so much about this festival and about how great a time everyone has here. I’m looking forward to it.”

Harper has been making movies — both for television and the big screen — in the state and this area since North Carolina’s film industry was much smaller than it is now.

“I’ve been all over this state. Tender Mercies [the 1983 film where Harper made her debut and garnered a Golden Globe nomination] was filmed just over the border in Tennessee. I’ve been throughout the Appalachians and in Wilmington in particular many times; it’s interesting to see how everything’s grown.”

For more information about Harper or the film festival, visit www.ashevillefilmfestival.com.

— David Forbes, staff writer

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