Laugh, cry, and be awed at these 5 WV film festivals


If you think film festivals are just for watching stuffy foreign art pieces in far-off places like Cannes or Sundance, think again. Our own Mountain State has a huge variety of festivals ranging from rural to urban, casual to formal, and small to big, all over the state. Whatever your taste in films and movies, check out these great West Virginia film festivals.

1. American Conservation Film Festival

Since 2003, the ACFF has featured hundreds of documentaries and guest speakers about environmental and conservation issues around the world. Held every October in the beautiful Eastern Panhandle city of Shepherdstown, the most recent 2016 festival’s winners addressed diverse topics such as solar energy, insect life, and climate change in Bangladesh. In addition to educating us about pressing world issues, ACFF submissions can also show some amazing nature show cinematography and effects. Don’t miss next year’s festival.


2. Appalachian Outdoor Film Festival

A newcomer among WV film festivals, the AOF made its debut in May 2016 at the Historic Fayette Theatre. Seeing as how Fayetteville’s New River Gorge region is West Virginia’s hub for outdoor recreation, film submissions featured stunning footage of southeastern rock climbing, whitewater, fly fishing, and mountain biking. All proceeds from the AOF go to support the New River Alliance of Climbers, rock climbing conservation and advocacy nonprofit.

3. Marshall Artists Film Series

Not “martial arts”— Marshall Arts! Each spring and fall, Marshall University devotes a week to screening critically acclaimed films from around the world. Their selection is very diverse— documentaries, dramas, and more— and focuses especially on foreign-language titles. The next festival will show films from countries like France, Japan, New Zealand, and Spain.


4. Pare Lorentz International Film Festival

Pare Lorentz’s stunning documentaries from the 1930s define the Great Depression and New Deal era so beautifully that he has been called the “Father of Documentary Film.”

For a decade, the Robinson Grand Theater (which Lorentz was born next to) and the West Virginia Movie Museum in Clarksburg have hosted an international documentary film festival. Right now, the theater is being renovated, so make plans to attend the 2018 festival.

5. West Virginia FILMmakers Festival

Since 2001, the small and charming historic town of Sutton has hosted what’s become the state’s most prestigious film festival. Held every October, both films and notable filmmakers get awards and compete for the West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year Award, provided by the West Virginia Film Office, which showcases notable film artists of the Mountain State. But it’s not all just screenings and awards; the WVFF also features great parties, live music, and has become the place for regional filmmakers to network and trade ideas.

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This post was last updated on July 28, 2020