The sixth annual Lookout Wild Film Festival will be presented from January 24 -27 at the Tivoli Theatre. This event focuses on nature films and documentaries, showing the beauty of nature all over the world, as well as in our own backyard. It actually was conceived in our own back yard, in the middle of the night.
“My son was born in 2012, and I remember he didn’t sleep much that first year, and so I was up with him most of the night. When you’re holding a little infant, you don’t really want to watch anything too violent. So I was checking around on Netflix and Vimeo, and I was seeing a lot of the nature films and outdoor adventure conservation documentaries. Some friends and I then began kicking around the idea of doing some events for Chattanooga that would be centered on the outdoors and decided to give this festival a try,” Festival Director Andy Johns said.
The goal of the festival is basically to make this a good weekend for folks in Chattanooga. The festival’s creators love Chattanooga and were searching for a way to give back. The Lookout Wild Film Festival began as a small event with only a few hundred participants. Over a few years, it has evolved into a vibrant showcase of what are arguably the best nature films in existence.
“Our first year was Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and we had about 300 people in those three days, and this past year we had almost 4,000 people attend. Turns out there’s a whole lot of outdoorsy people in Chattanooga, and we’d like to see them come out in January to swap stories and watch films,” Mr. Johns said.
There are submissions from 38 countries for the 2019 event, including Slovenia, Romania, Turkey, Poland, Costa Rica, Peru, and South Africa, among others. And quite a few from the U.S.
“So, this year we have 8,209 minutes of film, 136 hours of films, that have come in, and I think we’re going to pick about 16 hours-worth of films, give or take. We only choose the best of the best, and there are a lot of films that won’t make it, just because we can’t take 80 to 85 percent of the films,” Mr. Johns said.
All of the films in the competition are memorable, but some stand out more than others. “There are about three or four that stand out to me. One was about kayakers going down the Congo River. It was the first time some of those rapids had ever been run. Another one was called the “Dodo’s Delight,” and it was about these rock climbers that sail up to one of the islands up in far northern Canada. They go climbing on the rocks, but it was about their sailing adventure, in addition to the climbing itself,” Mr. Johns said.
This event seems to change how some people view nature films and nature in general. “Every year, there will be at least a couple of people who come up and say, ‘I’m not outdoorsy, my boyfriend or girlfriend dragged me here, and I didn’t know what it was all about, but we’re staying the rest of the weekend because we really enjoyed it. I had no idea that was what it.’” Mr. Johns said.
So, even if you’re dragging your feet, come check out a little bit of the Lookout Wild Film Festival, but be forewarned: you’ll probably stay for all of it.
Ticket information and more can be found at lookoutfilmfestival.org.