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ACFF kicks off next weekend

By Staff | Oct 28, 2011

The American Conservation Film Festival will return for its ninth season in Shepherdstown Nov. 3 though 6.

The festival, which was founded by community volunteers in 2002, is a collection of over 40 films related to the issue of conservation.

“It gives a closer look at issues happening in the world around us about conservation, the environment and nature,” said Lissa Cobetto of the festival’s mission.

Cobetto, who will direct this year’s festival after spending five years as the business manager for the Contemporary American Theater Festival and a past ACFF volunteer, said she sees ACFF as a learning opportunity for moviegoers.

“A film is worth a million words,” she said.

Cobetto recalled her reaction to seeing the ACFF featured film “Bag It.”

“I never looked a plastic bag the same way again … Films can change your life in a small way or in a large way,” she said.

Cobetto said that the festival also gives independent and student filmmakers venue and platform.

“It’s an opportunity to get their films screened for the first time,” she said.

Chase White, an independent filmmaker from Preston County, W.Va., will attend ACFF for the first time in support of his film “California Forever,” a documentary on the California state park system.

White, who moved to Los Angeles from West Virginia a few years ago, said he’s excited to return to his native state for the film event.

“I’m really honored to be able to represent this film as a filmmaker and as a native West Virginian,” he said.

White, who started a production company called “Recycled Movie,” offers mentorship to other West Virginia filmmakers who move out to L.A.

White said it’s “amazing” to be a part of an event that promotes both conservation and film growth in West Virginia.

“Conservation is in my blood. I grew up on a farm, ” he said.

According to Mark Madison, co-chair of the ACFF film selection committee and a festival co-founder, the festival offers classes and workshops for student filmmakers and offers both students and independent filmmakers an opportunity to make connections with industry professionals.

Madison said that this year’s films were chosen from over 150 submissions.

Madison, who said he’s watched over 1,000 films over the course of his nine-year tenure with the festival, said this year’s festival will offer both educational and entertaining fare.

“The entertainment is really critical. This is supposed to be fun,” he said.

Madison said festival organizers are anticipating several thousands of guests over the four-day festival.

“Please come!” he said. “It’s world class films in our little town.”

Festival events will be hosted by the National Conservation Training Center, the Shepherdstown Opera House and Shepherd University.

Full Festival Passes for the festival cost $40 and Individual Block Tickets can be purchased for $10. More information can be found by visiting www.conservationfilm.org or contact info@conservationfilm.org or 304-876-7373.