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1993 Charlotte Film & Video Festival 

Originally written by Matt Brunson, May 1, 1993

The internationally renowned Charlotte Film & Video Festival, spearheaded by Mint Museum film curator Robert West, was a real feather in the cap in a town that has never been known for embracing cinema. Creative Loafing was happy to pay more attention to this fest each year than any other Charlotte media outlet. In 1993, we found the event warranted a cover story, largely due to the inclusion of Barbara Trent's The Panama Deception, which had weeks earlier captured the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It was a scathing indictment of George H.W. Bush's 1989 invasion of Panama and the complacency of the American media in covering it (flash-forward to George W. Bush, Iraq and a still-complacent media, and the more things change, the more they stay the same). Both Trent and West discussed the film at length in interviews with CL.

Robert West - WORKING FILMS
  • Working Films
  • Robert West

The Charlotte Film & Video Festival was prominent enough to attract submissions from all over the world, but in the latter part of the 1990s — around the same time as the city's Angels in America-fueled homosexual witch hunt — all it reportedly took was a couple of local yahoos to complain about the number of gay-themed films on the roster, and the plug was gutlessly pulled on the whole festival.

Thankfully, West landed on his feet: Moving to Wilmington, he became the cofounder and executive director of Working Films, which is still going strong today. As for Charlotte, while it's seen a number of worthy film festivals in the ensuing years, it's never had another one as important and universally recognized as this one.

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