PINETOP-LAKESIDE – In show biz they say, “The show must go on.” And, even though the pandemic closed the WME theaters this year for seven months, their doors are now open and on Oct. 17 and 18 they will be hosting the 3rd Annual Show Low Film Festival at the Village 8 theater in Lakeside.

The show must go on

Showing off in typical Hollywood style at the 2019 Show Low Film Festival awards ceremony, actress Janel Tanna accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film “Intervention.” On Sunday, Oct. 18, we’ll find out who the 2020 award winners will be.

Earlier this year, Festival Producer and Director Martina Webster, who owns DarMar Production LLC, said other film festivals were cancelling their live festivals and going online. With October being seven months away from when the pandemic hit hard, Webster opted to wait and see, knowing she could cancel later if needed.

Limiting the number of filmmakers to 50 this year to comply with all of the pandemic guidelines in place, Webster actually has 50 industry people coming to the event. It is not 50 people from 50 films, but a combination of directors, producers and team members for the 37 films that will be available for weekend viewing by attendees.

For those who may not know the lingo, the films shown are Indie films — that is films by independent filmmakers who hope to make it to the big screen. The genres range from family, SciFi, horror, suspense and documentaries and are from all around the world. The films are categorized as shorts or features and all of the films being shown are finalists and award winners.

Theater owner Teddy Croney said the best way to describe the films being offered at the festival is to say “they are the filmmakers’ calling card to Hollywood.”

“Scouts come to film festivals looking for something fresh and for new actors and actresses. If they like what they see, they take the information back to the big studios,” said Croney. “The filmmaker hopes to get awards for their movie at the film festivals so they can use that in the promotion of their film. It also promotes the White Mountains. When the filmmakers see our area, and many love what they see, they may decide to come back and do their film here.”

The films for public viewing will be shown on three of the eight Village 8 screens. A fourth theater will serve as the filmmakers’ lounge and will be where the awards ceremony (which is open to the public), and the private banquet for the filmmakers and dignitaries, will take place.

Webster said this year they will be offering the filmmaker workshops on Friday. The workshops are only for the filmmakers and include presentations from industry experts on directing, visual effects, legal and more.

Films will be shown Saturday and Sunday and the Red Carpet event and awards presentation, which will take place on Sunday, will be open to the public and limited to around 120 attendees.

The awards ceremony will feature a special speaker this year, Kelsey Campbell, an Olympic medalist for Team USA. She is currently training full-time to win Gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which, due to COVID-19, has been moved to 2021.

Campbell was the first female to wrestle for Arizona State University, the 12th to ever wrestle for a men’s D1 College Team, and only the third female to win back-to-back Olympic Trials in the USA for women’s wrestling. She is a 10x National Team Member, 5x US Open Champion, 3x World Cup Medalist and volunteers for the Sunkist Kids Academy. She is also currently co-producing and recording an EP of original music, and shooting her first music video later this year. Her first children’s picture book is in the works with a literary agent. She will be available for autographs at the Red Carpet event which is open to the public on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

“To put on events in a crisis situation takes a lot of perseverance for manifestation and the help of a lot of good friends,” said Webster.

Croney said theater employees sanitize the theater between each showing to ensure everyone is safe.

“Seating takes place in every other row and we ask people to leave two seats in between them and to wear masks, unless they are eating popcorn,” said Croney with a giggle.

Village 8 can accommodate 500 people but with the pandemic guidelines they are only allowed to fill the theaters with 25% capacity or 125 people.

Webster hopes everyone will come out and enjoy and support the film festival, but she has another wish. “The theater has been closed since the pandemic began. I hope people will come out and support the theater.”

Village 8 will be still be offering five films of their own on four of their screens this weekend for patrons who are not participating in the film festival.

Tickets for the festival event can be purchased for one or two days. More information about the festival, along with ticket information, can be found at www.showlowfilmfestival.com.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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