Thomas W. Oliver’s Raven Fork, a local production, makes its debut this week. It’s the kind of film that will appeal much more strongly to aficionados of the sport at its core—whitewater kayaking—than it will to the uninitiated. This doesn’t mean that it has no appeal outside that core group, however. Far from it. Whether you go in for this sort of activity or if you—like I—think cross-country sitting is quite strenuous enough, there’s an appeal to the sheer beauty of the kayaking scenes. Better yet, Oliver has a terrific eye for composition and nearly every shot—at least the exteriors—is gauged for maximum visual impact.
Raven Fork is ultimately a niche film. There’s no doubt of that and there’s nothing wrong with that. But as I say, it has merits that crossover into more general interest, mostly through the film’s visuals. But the story also has a fairly broad appeal, since tales of friendship, loss, redemption and the need for closure are universal. It’s also an important new look into the Asheville filmmaking scene. Thomas Oliver is a very promising voice on that scene. He demonstrates certain weaknesses—most notably in the area of having scenes run too long and not cutting out extraneous footage—but he also evidences a strong visual sense and an inherent understanding of filmmaking technique. His film is worth catching and his progress worth following.