Fayetteville will become a film fanatic mecca this weekend


Indigo Moon Film Fest Winners


October is always a fun-filled month in Fayetteville, with seemingly endless Halloween and fall-related events. But our All-American City will become even more of an attraction when the annual Indigo Moon Film Fest opens Friday downtown.


Now in its 8th year, the three-day film festival celebrates the art of storytelling through film by screening independent movies from around the world to local audiences who would otherwise never see them. Think of it as a small-scale Cannes Film Festival without the stuffy glamour and glitz.  


Categories include international/foreign films, documentary shorts, student films, animation, and North Carolina-based films. There’s even a horror category, a yearly hit due to Halloween.


Pat Wright MugshotJan Johnson MugshotThis year’s Indigo Moon Film Fest will show more than 80 films – the most in its history – thanks to the hard work of organizers Pat Wright and Jan Johnson. The business partners own Moonlight Communications, a successful digital marketing agency downtown.


The pair created the festival to do something really different in Fayetteville.  


“Film was an underrepresented art in our area,” Wright said. “There were literally no other film festivals within an hour’s drive from here. We wanted to make film a part of our community.”


A generous Arts Council grant helped get their project off the ground, but the fledgling festival had some serious hurdles to overcome. Mother Nature was one of them.


Indigo Moon Film Fest debuted in 2016, right when Hurricane Matthew began devastating North Carolina and the rest of the East Coast with massive flooding and storm damage.


Wright recalls how the festival made it halfway through the first day before the torrential rains came. Then, the flooding started, forcing the rest of the event to be canceled.


“People were literally kayaking down the street,” Wright said.


The film festival returned the following year and began making a name for itself within film festival circles in the ensuing years. Then COVID hit, forcing the event to be entirely virtual in 2020. It was a weird time for movie-goers, to say the least.


In 2021, the event went hybrid. Some movies were screened at Segra Stadium, home of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball team. The rest were shown online.


The festival was a totally live event again in 2022. Johnson says watching movies is always better on the big screen than on a home TV.  


“It’s the whole social setting, culture thing,” she said.

This Year’s Festival


A 10-member panel decides Jury Awards at the end of the festival. Regular audience members can help decide Audience Award winners by voting for their favorite films from the weekend.


Wright and Johnson are high on a few films they’ve already seen. One is called “Hedgehog,” which follows a Ukrainian girl who finds a Russian soldier in the family barn.


New for this year is Dinner and a Movie Director, which will allow attendees to have a meal and ask questions of independent movie director Indy Saini. Two Indigo Moon wins last year helped Saini land a Showtime distribution deal.  


“All of the filmmakers in attendance will be coming to listen to her talk,” said Johnson. “I just want to hear how her past year has been.”


What’s mind-blowing about the dinner is that admission is just $10. That includes drinks, dessert, and the ability to talk with an Indigo Moon Film Fest success story.


Putting on the dinner and film festival is a logistical nightmare so the festival will use multiple screening locations this year. They include the Capital Encore Academy Theater and the Cameo Art House Theatre’s upstairs Loge screening area.  


The Cameo has been a festival venue since the start. Anyone who’s been there knows it’s the perfect place to watch independent movies due to its quiet and cozy atmosphere.


Centrally located in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, the Cameo is nothing like the mega-cineplexes that have proliferated across suburban America. And that’s a good thing, according to Johnson.


“People don’t know how lucky they are to have an arthouse theater here in town,” she said.


The same could be said of the Indigo Moon Film Fest.


For ticket information and movie schedules, visit www.indigomoonfilmfest.com.