Joedance Film Festival returns to Fourth Ward

A mysterious event in Alaska leaves three women struggling to survive in “Sea Horse,” which will be shown in the Joedance Film Festival.
A mysterious event in Alaska leaves three women struggling to survive in “Sea Horse,” which will be shown in the Joedance Film Festival. Courtesy of Beez Productions

The Joedance Film Festival must be the only event in Mecklenburg County big enough to inspire a fundraiser in Ohio and small enough that you have to bring your own chair to attend. Diane Restaino, mother of the Joe for whom it’s named, likes it that way.

For six years, she has raised money for cancer research with two nights of screenings at 9 p.m., under a tented roof near her Fourth Ward home. The event often sells out in advance – it runs Aug. 7-8 this year – and caps a year-round effort that resulted in a $30,000 check to Levine Children’s Hospital last year. (Joe Restaino, who was treated there, died at 20 in 2010.)

A $25 ticket buys you a feature and three shorts, a hot dog, access to a cash bar and the knowledge you’ve helped the fight against rare pediatric cancers. You can get details at http://joedance.org/contact/.

The big movie Friday will be “Sea Horse,” a narrative by writer-director Kamell Allaway about three women who struggle to survive in the Alaskan wilderness after a mysterious event leaves them homeless. Saturday features Bruce Bowers’ documentary “The Blue Ridge Parkway: A Long and Winding Road,” about the state’s most scenic highway.

Joedance requires entrants to have some strong connection to the Charlotte region. Bowers lives here; Charlotte’s Jamie Holt made his feature debut as a production designer on “Sea Horse.” The six shorts, which range from suspense to comedy to a music video, were shot here or used resident actors or were made by people raised here.

Joedance has built a wide-ranging support system. Archer Daniels Midland is a presenting sponsor again. BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation Friends of Fourth Ward, GPS/McCallie Mission: Remission and McCallie Friends of Charlotte all chip in. (Joe attended The McCallie School in Chattanooga.)

Fund-raising goes on all year: Joedance will get beer sale proceeds from a concert Aug. 27 at Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop, donations via an art auction Sept. 12 at The Gallery at Packard Place and beer sale proceeds at a Fox & Hound party in Ballantyne Oct. 16.

And the Ohio connection? Driver Jimmy Weller attended last year. He’s now so gung-ho that he’ll host Joedance Film Festival Night at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, on Sept. 20. On Oct. 10, he’ll compete at Charlotte Motor Speedway in his second NASCAR Nationwide Series race this season – where his Chevy Camaro will show a Joedance logo on lower rear quarter panels.

Toppman: 704-358-5232