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Students focus on sustainability during Homegrown Film Festival

BOONE—Mini-documentaries that were highlighted during Homegrown Film Festival: A Celebration of Sustainability in the High Country are now available online. Topics included sustainable agriculture, beer making and more.

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The films can be viewed at

The festival, held May 1 on campus, drew more than 300 students, faculty, staff and community members. They viewed a series of eight mini-documentaries created as a part of the sustainable development class “Outreach Skills for Sustainability” taught by Laura England. For many students, it was their first filmmaking experience.

“Sustainable development majors are committed to creating positive change in their communities and the world,” England said. “This course, and the film festival project in particular, gave them the opportunity to practice professional outreach skills that will increase their effectiveness in communicating with public audiences.”

Students worked in teams of two to three people to produce five-minute films for partner organizations, most of which are local or regional non-profits.

“My students really rose to the challenge and created films that will be useful communications tools for our partner organizations,” England said. “This talented group of students brought incredible energy, ideas and commitment to the project.”

The films spotlighted people and organizations that are contributing to the sustainability of the region. Festivalgoers voted for their favorite films. First place was awarded to the documentary “Appalachian Mountain Brewery” and second place was awarded to “Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture.” “Grandfather Mountain Stewardship” and “National Committee for the New River” tied for third place.

“Video production is a highly marketable skill for sustainable development majors given that non-profits and public agencies are increasingly using short films online for their outreach and advocacy efforts,” England said.

Tom Hansell from University Documentary Film Services assisted the class. The festival was co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability.