BOONE — The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country announced a year-round film series on Aug. 31 that features independent and documentary films that spark community conversation. Showcasing emerging and award-winning filmmakers and distinct perspectives from across the globe, BOONE DOCS celebrates the creative power of independent film beginning Sept. 20.

The theater’s Executive Director Laura Kratt said that BOONE DOCS is a collaborative initiative to bring together film fans and community partners to create a High Country home for independent film.

“Given our community’s love for good storytelling and the quality and creative depth of the Southern Circuit Filmmakers, partnering with South Arts was a natural first step for BOONE DOCS. We are thrilled to have been selected to be one of their newest host sites and be a part of this distinguished regional film network,” Kratt said.

South Arts in Georgia selected the Appalachian Theatre in Boone as one of only 17 Screening Partner organizations in the southeast United States for the 2020-21 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. The film selection process is rigorous with more than 200 filmmakers competing to be one of the six films presented on each local tour. A dedicated 12-person local film team was an invaluable part of the process, volunteering countless hours in film review to help bring compelling and engaging films to Boone.

From September through April 2021, BOONE DOCS will present six Southern Circuit films hosted by the filmmakers, giving audiences a rare look behind the scenes with post-screening Q&As about film subjects and the filmmaking process plus activities such as workshops and class visits. To prioritize the wellbeing and flexibility of Screening Partners, filmmakers and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural 2020-21 Southern Circuit season will feature a hybrid of in-person and online screenings.

The first event of the series features a free, online screening of “Coded Bias,” which explores the MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition software has an inherent bias. It does not see dark-skinned faces and women accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation against bias in algorithms that impact us all. The screening is hosted by director Shalini Kantayya.

Other films that will be part of the BOONE DOCS series are “Big Fur,” a wild love story and fun portrait of an eccentric artist-hero, World Champion taxidermist Ken Walker who builds a life-sized Bigfoot, based on frames from an iconic 1967 movie. This film will be screened at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4.

“Waging Change,” directed by Peabody Award-winner Abby Ginzberg, delves into the challenges faced by restaurant workers trying to feed themselves and their families off the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, and the #MeToo movement’s efforts to end sexual harassment. This documentary will be streamed online at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8.

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe,” a film by George King, will be screened here in Boone. Lonnie Holley has been described as a poet, a prophet, a hustler, a visionary artist, and a shaman. The 67-year old Holley has overcome grinding poverty, Jim Crow, and a nightmare childhood to emerge as a creative powerhouse with an agenda to save the planet, “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe!”

“Overland: Wake the Ancient Wild,” by Revere La Noue and Elisabeth Haviland James is a visually stunning, stirring, and cinematic journey shot across four continents that twists and turns like nature itself, bridging ancient to modern, east to west, and earth to sky. As each of these stories unfolds; eagles, falcons, and hawks play a critical role in helping their human partners keep the wild from fading out of sight and out of mind. This documentary will be screened at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 14, 2021.

The inaugural BOONE DOCS series concludes at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 18, 2021, with “Cured,” Patrick Sammon’s and Bennett Singer’s moving work that sheds a light on the historic and political history of the LGBTQ through the lens of the medical field. It takes audiences behind the scenes of this riveting narrative to chronicle the strategy that led to a crucial victory in the movement for LGBT rights and the first major step on the path to first-class citizenship for LGBT Americans.

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