Entertainment, Marquee

Short film festival to be held at various local venues

When people think of film festivals, they often picture events like Cannes or Sundance, but Gerald Habarth wants to remind film lovers that there is a festival right here in Morgantown.

The West Virginia MountaineerShort Film Festival runs today through Sunday with screenings at the Canady Creative Arts Center, the WVU Mountainlair and Morgantown Art Party.

One of the themes to be explored this year is AI. There are times when Ill look at the submissions and find interesting, unexpected themes emerging in the content that people are dealing with, the ideas that theyre trying to communicate in their work,Habarth said. But then other times, we invite specific areas of investigation. So this year, we put out a call for works, either dealing with artificial intelligence or made with artificial intelligence. And we got a lot of submissions in that category. So we have a big emphasis on that. This year, in fact, well be doing a panel discussion involving three invited artists from out of town who will be in person talking about their work involved with artificial intelligence.

WVMSFF has nearly 130 submissions from around the globe. While several films deal with AI, there are showcases of all sorts during the four days.

There will be an animation block Saturday evening and a documentary showcase Sunday afternoon. If you are looking for something family-friendly, these would be excellent options, Habarth said. The festival steers away from films with extreme violence or overt sexuality, but there are opportunities to see films that are more experimental in nature or deal with subjects that might be a bit different from what one might see on a streaming service or at the local movie theater.

The film festival really is about independent expression and independent voices and ideas,Habarth said. And so there are some instances where people are dealing with political content, for example, or dealing with social issues, issues regarding things that are prevalent or topical in culture right now.

We re not trying to find a broad kind of generic expression in the work that we re showing, were really interested in individual voices and authenticity of expression. And we look for that in the works that we accept. So thats a big part of the screening process, and the jury process is looking for works that are not just really well-made but that are engaging with important or relevant ideas and culture.

The festival is also an opportunity for filmmakers to get their work out to a larger audience.

One of the great things about the film festival, and why I think small film festivals like this serve a really important purpose is that it allows for true diversity of expression and allows people to come into contact with these voices and these ideas and these stories that theyre just not going to come across when they turn on their TV at home, Halbarth said. This is an internationalfilm festival. So were showing works from somewhere in the area of maybe 25 different countries. And I think thats a really important part of what were doing. We serve to create a venue for this other level of artistic activity which, if festivals like this didnt exist, those artists would have a hard time practicing their craft.

The WVMSFF is supported through West Virginia University, through various grants and through the support of local businesses and individuals.

For more information about the event and ways to help support it, you can visit the website at wvmsff.com