This Fayetteville film festival puts big adventure on the big screen.

“I’m never going to fly an x-wing fighter and destroy the Death Star,” says Jay Young, outreach committee chairman for the New River Alliance of Climbers. “But if I see a guy doing a crazy climb in Nepal, there’s a chance.”

It’s that vicarious thrill that drives the Appalachian Outdoor Film Fest, which returns to Fayetteville’s Historic Fayette Theater on May 19.

The third annual event is a fundraiser for the NRAC, which serves as a liaison between rock climbers and land managers, replaces unsafe anchors on climbing routes, builds trails, and does conservation work. Young says the group originally wanted to bring an existing film festival to town but, when that proved too expensive, the NRAC decided to start its own.

Filmmakers are welcome to submit their work, but organizers also solicit films for the event. Submission rules aren’t rigid. Even films with tenuous connections to Appalachia are fair game. And not everything is focused on rock climbing—the film that won 2016’s inaugural festival was about fly fishing.

One strict rule does apply. Because the whole festival lasts just two hours, none of the films can be longer than 13 minutes. “The whole thing is very fast-paced. From the moment it starts, it’s bang-bang-bang-bang,” Young says. “It captivates the audience.”

Tickets go on sale in early April. Grab them fast—the Fayette only seats 240 people, and the festival has been known to sell out.

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Zack Harold
Written by Zack Harold
Zack Harold is a southern West Virginia native. He covered education, health, and government at the Charleston Daily Mail before becoming the newspaper’s features editor. He joined New South Media in 2015, became managing editor of WV Living in January 2016, and took over as managing editor of Wonderful West Virginia in July 2016.