The Twin Rivers Media Festival takes place annually on the first weekend of May in Asheville, North Carolina. All profits of the festival after (advertising) expenses will go to filmmakers and media artists. Next year will be the 15th season of the Twin Rivers Media Festival.
Festival judges begin screening films in March and April and continue until the official festival dates, the first weekend of May, where the finalists are shown every two hours during the weekend. The festival of independent media usually attracts about 150 spectators for each viewing, which in total exceeds a thousand visitors. “Twin Rivers viewers really appreciate media art, and this festival gives them the opportunity to see things that would otherwise be unavailable. We also receive applications from all over Europe and Asia. Than in all of America, and it’s some of the best. the best in the world,” said Carlos Steward, founder of the Festival and Mover.
Twin Rivers, which has received 400-500 nominations from the world’s best independent media artists, focuses on content rather than sequins, aiming to be more eclectic than a typical film festival. In addition to some of the best independent documentaries, short films and feature films made worldwide today, the Twin Rivers Media Festival also offers categories for artists working with multimedia CDs, audio media, advertising, the Internet and websites. There are even special categories such as “Made on Mac” or for projects related to nature, animals or the environment.
Twin Rivers and its predecessors have long gained huge popularity among independent West Coast artists and film schools. Most of the American participants come from California, followed by film schools such as New York University and Florida, followed by the Southwest. Experienced professional artists are often invited to talk about their work and hold workshops. Education is the main attraction of the festival among local students and aspiring artists. Filmmakers and other media artists can communicate, discuss projects, and exchange ideas in a supportive environment.
Stewards’ love of media art goes far beyond cinema, and he wanted to make his festival more inclusive and open to all media arts. “These forms of art are so similar and interconnected,” steward says, “I wanted to do more for independent artists who have done a great job in media alongside cinema. In the early 1980s, the Stewards’ idea was realized, and a media festival was born in upstate New York. Since then, he has performed at festivals in states across the country, the last of which was held in Asheville, North Carolina, where the Twin Rivers Media Arts Festival continues to grow and expand. “Asheville has a great community that strongly supports independent media,” Steward said. “It attracts a lot of attention from artists from the United States and other parts of the world.”
As a film student at Florida State University and a documentary filmmaker in Mexico, Central and South America, Steward learned from his own experience how difficult it is to present an independent film to the audience. “Underground media festivals are a great way to present things that a very large audience doesn’t usually see. This is where the idea of creating my own film festival began, and the current incarnation here in Asheville is still the best. “
Asheville offers other perks: while the festival celebrates art from around the world, the entire event is organized and hosted with local talent. The film’s judges are owned and licensed by the MAP (Media Arts Project) of western North Carolina. Sound and script judges are recruited from several professional studios in and around Asheville. Steward believes that Asheville is the perfect venue for a mass media arts festival. “I’ve been all over the world and Asheville has one of the most incredible local staffing reserves I’ve ever seen,” Steward said. He tries to attract as many local artists as possible, so that the festival has a real sense of community and many forms of art were represented.
The Twin Rivers Media Festival, which features 102 world premieres and 8 premieres in North America, offers some of the best independent screenings available. Jamie Hester, a fan of the festival and a regular participant in The Courtyard Gallery’s World Cinema series on Friday night, commented on some of his favorite works of last year: “I loved the ‘Fix’ Tao Ruspoli and ‘Karea’ Sandy Crichton. Jarrett Leone, a Twin Rivers volunteer, commented, “I liked Jarrad Kritzstein’s Camp Woz, and not just because of the name. I really liked the movie “The Eyes of the Ancestors” by Kalani Cape, an American director from California.”
The Twin Rivers Media Festival is no ordinary film festival. This incredible exhibition of some of the brightest international media artists manages to unleash world-class talents without being in the least pretentious. No Hollywood star walks the red carpet in fashion cinemas. At the Courtyard Gallery, where the Twin Rivers Media Festival takes place, you are more likely to find yourself in a comfortable chair or sofa surrounded by one of the most diverse collections of works by local and international artists or in the courtyard . . . and enjoy the secluded street screen.
There are many reasons why artists choose Twin Rivers. Many people are interested in very popular categories of films, such as feature films, documentaries or short films. This gives competing filmmakers a chance to see how their project is rated compared to 100-200 applications from some of the best in the world. Other categories are less competitive than other festivals and attract participants who think they are more likely to be rewarded for their work. The winners who took the first place will receive a unique trophy or handmade plaque created by Mexican artist Sinlos.
Although Twin Rivers is a labor of love that takes most of Steward’s time from March to early May, he believes it’s worth it. “Getting great material from an unknown director shocks everyone. This year, one of them was the student film “Rabia” muhammad Ali Hassan about a young Muslim woman who tied to the waist explosives and showed his previous cinematic life in flashbacks.