¦ What: Lookout Wild Film Festival.
¦ When: 8-11 p.m. Friday, March 21; 2-5:30 p.m. and 7-10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22; 2-5:30 p.m. Sunday, March 23.
¦ Where: Chattanooga Choo Choo Centennial Theater, 1400 Market St.
¦ Admission: $5 any matinee or evening screening; $10 all-access weekend pass.
¦ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
¦ Website: www.lookoutfilmfestival.org.
¦ Note: Local Hero Project viewing party for locally made films of 3 minutes or less showcasing "serene to extreme" regional adventures will begin at 5 p.m. today, March 20, at Mellow Mushroom, 205 Broad St.
Friday, March 21
Evening screening, 8-11 p.m.
¦ "The Sea Rock"
¦ "The Way It Began"
¦ "The Sufferfest"
¦ "We Are Rhino"
¦ "The Boy Who Flies"
¦ "North of the Sun"
Saturday, March 22
Matinee, 2-5:30 p.m.
¦ "Gregg Treinish, A Move Shake Story"
¦ "Caves: The Social Underground"
¦ "The Light in the Everglades"
¦ "Love in the Tetons"
¦ "Birdmen: The Original Dream of Flight"
¦ "Ray: A Life Underwater"
Evening, 7-10:30 p.m.
¦ "Unicycle Caving"
¦ "Bike Lanes"
¦ "The Joy of Air"
¦ "The Man Who Loved His Bike"
¦ "The Mother"
¦ "Snorkeling the Smokies"
¦ "Outdoor Chattanooga"
¦ "Down the Line"
¦ "Who Owns Water"
Sunday, March 23
Matinee, 2-5:30 p.m.
¦ "Freestyle Kayaker"
¦ "Among Giants"
¦ "Arkansas in a Day"
¦ "The Last Great Climb"
¦ "Segment of Barkley Marathon"
¦ "The Last Sun"
¦ "Fighting for the Futaleufu"
¦ "Congo: The Inga Project"
How do you top a film festival packed with exhilarating documentaries of one-legged hang-gliding, extreme sand-boarding and musings on the fanaticism of climbing culture?
With even more of it, obviously. (Also, extreme unicycling probably doesn't hurt.)
"The quality of the films this year is off-the-charts better than last year, everything from the visuals to the storytelling techniques and the places they go and the style they use to tell it," says Andy Johns, co-founder and organizer of the Lookout Wild Film Festival, which returns to the Chattanooga Choo Choo's Centennial Theater this weekend, March 21-23.
During its inaugural year in 2013, about 400 patrons attended screenings of about 25 films selected from a batch of 70 submissions. The 34 films that will be shown this weekend were culled from a pool almost twice as large as last year's films. Filmmakers from more than 20 countries will be represented.
Many of these works have never been screened in Tennessee before, Johns says, and as with last year's films, the selection committee focused not just on showcasing epic adventures -- mountain climbing in Antarctica, kayaking around massive whirlpools on the Congo River -- but also spotlighting contemplative conservation films whose messages often are as cautionary as their scenery is beautiful.
In addition to white-knuckle thrills such as rocketing down cliff faces with adrenaline junkies in "Birdmen: The Original Dream of Flight," the audience also will accompany an ecologist on a paddleboard-level tour of a British Columbian rain forest threatened by a proposed gas pipeline.
"All the films really tell good stories, and that's what we want," Johns says. "A goal of the festival is not just to show clips of amazing things but to tell stories with characters and get people to experience the adventures right along with the characters involved."
The festival also will feature several special guests. Half a dozen filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their projects, as will kayaking guru Steve Fisher, a 2013 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and subject of "Congo --The Grand Inga Project," which will be screened Sunday.
In addition to the dozens of films showcased during the festival proper, Lookout Wild this year has partnered with the Local Hero Project, a mini film festival featuring works that exhibit "Chattanooga's outdoor lifestyle" in three minutes or less, according to the event's website.
The films of Lookout Wild will transport viewers to all corners of the globe, but it's equally important to festival organizers that they showcase the opportunities for adventuring and conservation closer to home.
About a third of the selections have some tie to the region, Johns says, from "Snorkeling the Smokies," a documentary on the river ecosystems of Southern Appalachia, to "Outdoor Chattanooga," which follows the environmental transformation of a city once described as "the dirtiest ... in America" into an adventurer's playland.
"We want to show the best films in the world, but we also want to focus on the Southeast," Johns says. "We hope the festival and film project provide an opportunity to highlight a lot of the amazing things in the outdoors right around here."
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.