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Asheville's Major Fest 

And a powerful Latin American lineup

Durham has its Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Charlotte used to have its Charlotte Film & Video Festival, and now Asheville is weighing in with its own independent-minded enterprise. The Asheville Film Festival will be held November 6-9 at various venues around town. Approximately 50 films are presently scheduled to be shown, representing fictional works, documentaries, shorts, and student films.

A few of the titles will be familiar to Charlotte filmgoers, as they've already played our town (e.g., the Down syndrome documentary Emma's Gifts, the short thriller Rewind). Yet the Queen City is hardly the only NC burg being represented -- the Christmas tale The Angel Doll, based on Jerry Bledsoe's book and starring Keith Carradine, is set in 1950s Thomasville, while the documentary February One centers on that fateful day in Greensboro in 1960, when a lunch counter sit-in became a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Other entries also bear Carolina connections, from the documentary Celebrating the Cycle: The Wood-Fired Pottery of Matt Jones to the narrative tale Paradise Falls.

Nor are the fest organizers forgetting their own: Asheville natives Dylan Trivette and Matt Zboyovski share writing, directing and producing duties on the drama Miles Ahead, while Asheville filmmaker Rod Murphy helms the nonfiction feature Greater Southbridge.

A trio of high-profile pictures (designated as Special Invitation Feature Films) will also be included in the festival. The Ang Lee-produced One Last Ride, about a compulsive gambler, will open the four-day event, while the Closing Night Gala will feature The Cooler, starring William H. Macy as a born loser whose bad luck wears off on the patrons of a Vegas casino savvy enough to employ him. And in between these bookend features, moviegoers will be able to catch a 25th anniversary screening of the cult flick Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

For complete details, call 828-259-5800, or go online to www.ashevillefilmfestival.com.

The 5th Annual William Wilson Brown Jr. Latin American Film and Video Festival will be held at various venues November 3-14, including local colleges and the Light Factory. This year's theme is "Chile: Thirty Years of Memory," centering on Latin American dictatorships, power struggles, and related issues. The event begins with a November 3 screening of The Guestworker, a documentary about the thousands of Mexicans who are brought into North Carolina each year to work the farm jobs that nobody else will handle. The movie's directors, NC filmmakers Charlie Thompson and Cynthia Hill, will be in attendance. Other pictures on the slate include Costa Gavras' powerful Missing, with Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek (November 6), the Chilean documentary The Pinochet Case, about the legal prosecution of the murderous former dictator (November 12), and the Oscar-winning Argentinean film The Official Story (November 14). Admission is free. For a complete schedule, go online to www.unc.edu/depts/ilas/LAFF.

Rising filmmakers who'd prefer to see their own movies unspooling at festivals have two opportunities to make that dream a reality.First, the 2004 Florida Film Festival is taking entries for its shindig March 5-14. The early deadline is October 31, while the late deadline is December 5. Applications are available online at www.FloridaFilmFestival.com.

Also, submissions are currently being accepted for the 11th Annual Texas Film Festival, which will be held February 16-21. Entry deadline is January 2, and forms may be obtained online at www.txfilmfest.org.

The Black Cinema Cafe has teamed up with Heineken USA to present the Heineken Urban Filmmakers Grant Program. Directors or producer/writer teams of African descent are invited to submit their fictional pieces (30 minutes or less) before the October 31 deadline. Top prize is a $3,000 grant, with three runners-up earning $500 grants. For details, call Ryan Walker at 704-597-6700 or go online towww.blackcinemacafe.com/promos/Heineken/filmmaker_grant.htm.

If you're a horror film auteur who's convinced that those hoity-toity festival judges won't recognize the artistry in your project, then the Fangoria Blood Drive is for you. Aspiring filmmakers are encouraged to submit original short-form genre flicks (less than 13 minutes). The winner's film will be showcased on an upcoming DVD release hosted by Rob Zombie. Deadline for submissions is November 30. For complete details, go online to www.fangoriablooddrive.com.

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