An artificial flower shop owner grows forbidden flowers in secret. A man walks near a highway to see rare birds. Female divers harvest the waters around Jeju Island. Climbers endure 24 hours of ascent. Dancers share the story of a Guatemalan island. A drop of water settles a philosophical debate. These six stories showcasing humans’ complicated relationship with nature will headline the Indie Films Artosphere event at 7 p.m. on May 26 at the Starr Theater at the Walton Arts Center.
Russell Sharman says the all-volunteer Fayetteville Film Fest Board of Directors chose films from previous entries to their festival with an eye to Artosphere’s focus on nature and sustainability.
“We went back a few years in our catalog and looked for films that we felt best related to the themes that make Artosphere such an interesting arts festival,” says Sharman. “It’s a really interesting mix. We’ve got documentary films; we’ve got straight-up narrative shorts; and we’ve got some really amazing animations as well. Each of them, I think, has a kind of different. It’s a bit cliché, but there is a bit of something for everyone.
“There are really abstract and beautiful animated films, sort of lyrical animated films about our relationship to water, in particular, which I think are really interesting,” he says of the films. . “Henyo, Women of the Sea” is an animated film that focuses on Haenyo, the female divers of Jeju in South Korea. “Aqua” is an animated film that questions the question: “Is physical survival more important than spiritual purity” with the answer found in a drop of water. A short narrative film, “Soul of the Sea”, unfolds the story of a dancer in a Garifuna community on the coast of Guatemala.
“And we have a documentary [“The 24″] about the Horseshoe Canyon climbers, in Jasper, Arkansas – so a local film about this 24-hour climbing competition, which is super fun. We also have some really interesting narrative films like “Hypoxia,” which is a beautifully filmed dystopian take on a life where the government has banned all organic plants. And there’s this renegade florist who takes care of the flowers. So really imaginative stuff. And as I say, a little for everyone.”
Fayetteville residents may also recognize a familiar face in “Mike the Birdman,” a documentary about local birdwatcher, Mike Mlodinow. “It’s just a wonderful kind of veritae documentary with people who know and love it about a local bird-loving character here in Fayetteville.”
Sharman says this year’s Artosphere event was a fun way to share films from past festivals organized by Fayetteville Film Fest. “We’re really impressed with how many films have been organized around this idea,” he shares. He says the partnership with the Walton Arts Center helps the festival support its mission to bring world-class films to the state and build meaningful relationships with filmmakers, as well as nurture the art of filmmaking by uniting a community of creators and supporters.
Throughout the year, the Fayetteville Film Fest hosts screenings, workshops and more for budding filmmakers. They also offer the Micheaux Prize and the Film Lab which are “designed to support and encourage the creation and authorship of Arkansas-based projects by Black, Indigenous, and filmmakers of color” with financial assistance from the prize and opportunities of education and workshops throughout the year with the Cinema Laboratory. The award is named after Oscar Micheaux, who was the first great black filmmaker. He directed and produced 44 films throughout his career that challenged negative stereotypes of black people at the time.
The Fayetteville Film Festival is also preparing for its annual festival scheduled for October 20-22. The deadline for Arkansas filmmakers to submit films for free is May 31. Sharman says the Fayetteville Film Fest will host workshops and other events throughout the summer. To find out more, visit fayettevillefilmfest.org and their social networks.