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The Prodigal Filmmaker

From Kneeland to Redland and back


  • Redlands

The WildRivers 101 Film Festival 2010 kicks off this weekend with screenings of indie and documentary films in various venues along the Hwy 101 corridor through Oct. 11 and filmmakers in attendance from here and abroad.

Centerpiece for the fest is the indie feature Redland from first-time director Asiel Norton, a rising star who grew up here in Humboldt. Raised in a TV-free cabin on Kneeland Mountain, his first cinema fixes came when his folks took him to see movies at the Minor, which is where his film will be screening Sunday and Monday. Shot in the forests of Humboldt County a few years ago, Redland is a tale of lust and family dynamics during the Great Depression in a backwoods setting. The film has made waves on the international festival circuit launching in Montreal and winning "Best Debut Feature" at the Raindance Film Festival in London. Norton himself was deemed "one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine and given the "Someone to Watch Award" at IFC's Independent Spirit Awards.

All this praise comes at a time when indie film is struggling for audience share and funding. Norton does not seem worried though. In an opinion piece for the Huffington Post he writes, "As a young first-time filmmaker now entering the film festival circuit, I would like to express a note of optimism about the future of provocative independent cinema. While I fully understand that at the moment the independent film world is in a state somewhat akin to chaos, with most studios having closed there independent branches and distribution for films that lack A-list stars, aliens, comic book characters or fart and penis jokes becoming more and more of a distant reality, I do think that out there, somewhere, there is an audience for interesting, challenging, and artistic films."

In Humboldt County, that audience is you. WildRivers 101 gives you a chance to experience cutting edge filmmaking -- grab the opportunity while you can.

Redland screens at Arcata's Minor Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, and Monday, Oct. 4. Writer/director Asiel Norton will be there for a Q&A both nights along with his co-writer/producer Magdalena Zyzak. For more on Redland see For more on WildRivers 101 screenings see Filmland, for the full schedule check the Calendar or go to


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