Joedance film fest raising the bar again in 2014

JoeDance Film Festival has achieved an unusual status: It keeps getting bigger but doesn’t get larger.

The fifth annual event, which raises money to fight rare pediatric cancers, aims to collect $30,000 this year. If it does, that’ll be a 50 percent increase over last year’s total. Yet it still takes place over just two days (Friday and Saturday) in the courtyard behind 10th Street Townhomes, where it has always been, rain or shine.

“We straddle two worlds: one of rare pediatric cancers research in the medical world and the creative world of filmmakers,” says founder Diane Restaino. “It makes our organization unique.”

It has also made Joedance popular. The festival commemorates Restaino’s son, Joe, who died of osteosarcoma at 20, and has exploded from a donations-only event in 2010 (which raised $950) to a $25-a-ticket blast that sold out last year.

Some people come for the films, a series of shorts preceding a feature-length documentary each night. Some come to socialize: The ticket price includes food and access to the winning filmmakers. Some come to support Levine Children’s Hospital, which treated Joe and receives proceeds from the festival. (You don’t have to attend to support it; go to joedance.org to learn more.)

Friday’s program is anchored by “Overcoming Mountains,” Joshua Marshman’s documentary about a 2,300-mile bicycle ride across China; his three-person crew chronicled stories of struggle and endurance along the way. Bruce Bowers’ “Without Perfect Answers” caps the Saturday program; it looks at foster-care systems, starting with Crossnore School (a boarding school founded in the N.C. mountains in 1913) and ending at Goldstein Youth Village in Jerusalem.

The seven short films come from students and professionals and range in tone from the comic “Pop” (an actress misinterprets a role when auditioning for a balloon-popping fetish video) to the weightier “Filius,” about a Puerto Rican hardware store owner who tries to cope with his daughter’s accidental death.