Footcandle Film Festival is “putting Hickory on the international map”

chrisfryealanjackson-largeFeeding film addictions across the City of Hickory for the last eight years is Footcandle Film Society. It is the brainchild of two self-proclaimed “movie nerds” who wanted to bring an additional art form to Hickory.

Alan Jackson and Chris Frye would frequently drive to Winston-Salem and Charlotte to see films that were not airing in Hickory. They wanted to find a way to bring those films to Hickory to share with the rest of the community. After they created Footcandle, they invited close friends and family to their office to watch films and discuss them after.

peg-and-rich-hitesMembers, Rich and Peg Hites, joined Footcandle in 2009, one year after they moved to Hickory from Southern California. “The discussion at the end is one of the reasons why Footcandle is so great. You know when you read a book, but it’s more fun when you read it with your friends? It’s the same concept with Footcandle. It’s so much more fun to watch the movies together and discuss them when they’re over. The discussions make the movie extra special,” said Peg Hites.

Growing from 20 members in 2008 to over 600 members with a waitlist of over 100 in 2016, Footcandle Film Society is excited to announce their second annual Film Festival from Friday, September 23 until Sunday, September 25.

Friday night is full of short films and an opening reception at the Hickory Museum of Art. Saturday and Sunday will be filled with narratives and non-documentaries, with the festival concluding on Sunday with a sit-down dinner and awards ceremony at Hollar Mill.

The opening reception allows for attendees to mingle with directors and producers, which is Peg Hites’ favorite part. She said, “I can go to Sundance and other film festivals, but the chances of me meeting the filmmakers is slim to none.  It’s not just viewing the films, it’s an opportunity to intersect with people who create them.”

After the opening reception, the festival includes a Night Gallery. Jackson described it as “movies that are unique, interesting, and a little more bizzare.”

Members Paul and Marie Martino were unable to attend the festival last year but had the opportunity to watch, critique, and help choose the films that were shown. “We enjoyed previewing all the films so much last year that we volunteered to do it again this year. We are excited for everyone to see them,” said Marie.

“We want Hickory to be a place that our filmmakers love. Last year, we had a filmmaker from California stay the weekend, and every time I saw him, he told me about his experiences in Hickory, from eating breakfast at the Snackbar every morning to buying a mug at the Tap Room. We want more stories like that of filmmakers coming to Hickory and interacting with the community,” said Jackson.“Thanks to the Footcandle Film Festival, producers and directors from all over the world are coming to Hickory, which is putting Hickory on the map internationally,” said Rich Hitesfootcandle-film-festival-4.

Peg added, “We lived in three different communities in Southern California, and none of them had film societies. We were thrilled to find out that Hickory had Footcandle.”

William Stribling, the filmmaker from California, will be speaking at Lenoir-Rhyne University on Thursday, September 22 as part of the Visiting Writer’s Series. He will discuss script-writing, dialects in film, and show his film Bear with Us. “He is a very creative guy, and we are excited to show his film this year,” Jackson added.

When asked why they formed Footcandle in Hickory, Jackson said,  “Hickory has done a great job bringing the arts, but it seemed to lack in the movie industry. We have a vibrant community that looks for many ways of artistic expression, so we wanted to bring film to the table.”

Rich Hites agreed that Hickory is a great place for Footcandle and the festival because “Hickory has an openness with the Hickory International Council and that helps set the tone for the openness to multicultural things.” Peg added, “We learn something new at every showing. When a film discusses different cultures or countries, we almost always have someone in the audience from that part of the world who can talk about real experiences and can tell us whether what we saw was real or over exaggerated.”

Because Footcandle has grown so much in the last eight years, they have moved from the office, once a month, to the Carolina Theatre, twice a month. The Hites’ said that it is the highlight of their month.

The Martinos said that because of Footcandle, they “have developed deeper relationships with good friends, made new friends, and always have something to talk about with new people.”

Jackson added that the goal for the festival is to become big enough where multiple venues are necessary to show the films, similar to larger film festivals. “We would love to be known as well as Sundance, but that takes time,” said Jackson.

“Every festival starts small. Sundance started small. You have to find a niche market and share the dream. It doesn’t take a large town, and it’s cool to see a dream like this come together. Who knows, in the next few years, the festival could be so large that Hickory might be known as the place where the Footcandle Film Festival is held in addition to being known for furniture,” said Peg.

For more information about Footcandle Film Society, visit For more information about the festival, go to


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