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Seven-year retrospective: SOAPIFF to screen festival films of regional interest

October 8th, 2013 10:29 am by Entertainment Staff

Seven-year retrospective: SOAPIFF to screen festival films of regional interest

This picture shows a scene from "The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin." Directed by Buck Kahler, the 27 minute-long film has aired locally on East Tennessee PBS.

In 2005, Mark Compton started the Southern Appalachian International Film Festival in Johnson City as his master’s thesis project in Cross Cultural Tourism Development at East Tennessee State University. The event — modeled after the Sinking Creek Film Festival, originally founded by the late Mary Jane Coleman in Greeneville — has since grown into one of the most diverse film festivals in the country, showcasing films from all over the world, many of which have gone on to greater acclaim after receiving their premier screening during the festival.

SOAPIFF is teaming up with the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts to present a seven-year retrospective of festival films that relate to the Tri-Cities area the weekend of Oct. 18-20 at the Kingsport Renaissance Center.

Tickets are $7 a day, or $15 for all three days of the event.

“With close to 100 films screened each year, it was difficult to choose what movies to show, so with that said, SOAPIFF decided to stay somewhat local with sprinkles of international flair thrown in for good measure — international is our middle name,” Compton said.

The festival will begin at 5 p.m., Friday with screenings of “Five Across the Eyes,” SOAPIFF’s first “Best in Fest” winner, followed by “Tenner” at 6:40 p.m.; “Mr. Bones,” the 2007 “Best in Fest” winner, at 7 p.m.; “When You Find Me” at 9 p.m.; and “Broken Springs,” the zombie thriller directed by Gate City, Va., native Neeley Lawson, at 9:20 p.m. In “Broken Springs,” three teenage boys must rescue their loved ones and battle a marauding horde of zombies after their small town is turned upside down by tainted moonshine. The independent horror flick was filmed in and around the Tri-Cities.

Saturday’s screenings will kick off at 4 p.m. with a series of “shorts,” including “Egg Fight,” about the annual Peters Hollow Eager Egg Fight; “Man of the Family,” the 2008 SOAPIFF Award winner for Best Drama — Short; “Search for Mermaid in Desert,” which touches on the issue of female infanticide and China’s one-child policy; the 2008 Scottish short comedy “The Problem with Pets”; and “Hot Dog,” the second sequel to the Oscar-nominated short “Guard Dog.”

Among the evening’s other screenings are the 1927 silent film “The Cat and the Canary,” featuring an original score by the late Phil Pollard of Johnson City, and the “Best in Fest” film “Freedom,” written and directed by Barter Theatre favorite Rick McVey and starring many other former and current Barter actors.

Based on a true story, “Freedom” chronicles the adventures of Capt. Theodore Allen and Lt. A.A. Carr, two Union soldiers captured by Confederate forces under the command of Southwest Virginia’s Gen. W.E. “Grumble” Jones in November 1863 after the Battle of Rogersville, Tenn. Allen and Carr escape and make their way back to Federal lines with the help of Union sympathizers and the Underground Railroad.

Sunday’s screenings begin at 1 p.m. and will include two regional documentaries of note: “The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin,” showing at 1 p.m., and “Melungeon Voices,” which will round out the festival at 3 p.m.

Directed by Buck Kahler, the 27 minute-long “The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin” has aired locally on East Tennessee PBS and features seven area museums and historical sites, including Ramsey House and Fort Loudon. The American Association for State and Local History chose the film as a 2012 Award of Merit Winner, and the East Tennessee Historical Society presented the film’s production company, Nolichucky Pictures, with an Award of Distinction for excellence in research and production.

“Melungeon Voices,” directed by Julie Williams Dixon, chronicles the mystery that has surrounded the multi-ethnic Melungeon people who have lived deep in the Appalachians for hundreds of years.

For a complete listing and synopsis of all the films, visit or

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