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The WYO Film Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary

WYO Film Festival logo
Breton Shepherd
/
WYO Film Festival

The WYO Film Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary this weekend at the WYO Theater. This year’s events include several local, documentary, short, and feature films.

According to the festival director Justin Stroup, selecting the films that will be featured each year is a time-consuming effort.

“Every year, we usually receive entries from over 30 countries around the world,” said Stroup. “I think this year there were several hundred, I want to say 350, maybe if I’m not mistaken--short films, feature films, all shapes, and sizes.”

The festival gained notice via a service called Film Freeway which connects filmmakers with festivals around the world. Word of mouth has also proven successful in gaining a wider awareness of the annual event.

This year’s festival will feature 15 films of various genres across three days. They include Teton Gravity Research’s Magic Hour and Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, a documentary about Derrick and Amy Ross, a couple that had ties to Sheridan, Stroup said.

“From the hundreds of movies that we see every year, they kind of start with a general thumbs up, thumbs down,” he said, explaining the selection process. “The couple folks that watch the movies [ask] ‘Do we like the movie? Is it good? Is it something that we think that our festival attendees would want to see or should see?’ And then that kind of breaks it down to about 50 movies or so.”

The selection is then further narrowed down to the 15 or so films that are screened over the three days of the festival.

“Over the last five years, it's been pretty incredible,” Stroup said. “The amount of support from not only local folks that want to watch movies, [but] local businesses, regional businesses that support the festival and allow it to happen. That support has just grown steadily in the last five years.”

Stroup added that he felt the quality of the films has been a factor that’s changed over years since the first festival.

This year’s events include some visitors and special guests that will be attending, which include some of the filmmakers of films that will be featured.

“We've got quite a few filmmakers coming into town from around the country, we've got filmmakers coming up from Texas coming up from New York, coming up from Los Angeles, kind of all around the country, throughout the state folks are coming to attend, that are filmmakers,” he said. “It's really great to be having Q&A events after the screening so you can watch the movie and then listen to the filmmaker talk about how they made that movie and ask them questions about you know what, why did you do this this way? Or why didn't you do this other thing, or what happened here?”

Stroup decided to create the festival upon moving back to Sheridan. A self-admitted fan of film festivals, he decided to create one and found others in the community who shared the same passions.

A full list of this year’s events can be found here.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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