Summer in Sheridan, Wyoming, is absolutely exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, summer is my favorite season of the four. I love the heat. I love being able to explore the outdoors, I love fly fishing (poorly) and I love getting to see everyone that was cooped up inside all winter.

My biggest gripe about summer in Sheridan, however, is that I rarely have the time to watch movies because there is just too much fun stuff to do in this town. How can you sit down and watch movies when the weather is perfect for grilling with friends? There’s live music downtown…can’t miss that! Oh, there’s this or that festival this weekend, too. Isn’t there a concert in the park tonight? I’m worn out just thinking about it.

Well, as the old adage warns us, “Be careful what you wish for.” I wished to watch more movies, and over the last two years as the director of the WYO Film Festival, that wish has come true. I think my granted wish ended up somewhere between King Midas and his golden touch and Mickey Mouse stealing the wizard’s hat and having too many brooms in his life. My summers have changed. Now, I watch more than 1,000 movies a year to program the film festival.

“But Justin,” you say, “how can a person watch 1,000 films in a year?” It’s easy! You watch them when you wake up. You watch them when you brush your teeth in the morning. You watch them on your lunch break when you’re eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (on toast, of course). You watch at least one before going to bed. Oh yeah, and this doesn’t even include my “recreational” viewing of movies with my fiancée and friends. We’re just talking about my “work” watching here.

About 700 of these films are directly submitted to me via the film festival. This year, we had films submitted from 63 countries. We haven’t received any films from Antarctica yet, but we’ve got the other six continents. We get films from students, seasoned professionals, first-time filmmakers and movie hobbyists. We get films with no budget, and we get films with a budget of millions of dollars. I watch a lot of movies. Nope, they’re not all good.

But enough about me, let’s talk about the reason behind this madness — the second annual WYO Film Festival. I watch these movies to find the absolute best of the best for you. When you come to the WYO Film Festival (Oct. 4-6, tickets on sale now at www.wyotheater.com) you are going to have the chance to see 37 of the finest films that are on the film festival circuit today. We have films that have been nominated for an Oscar, films that have played at the biggest and most prestigious film festivals around the world, and films that you won’t be able to see anywhere else (and it will drive your friends crazy when they try to look for them).

There are films for everyone’s tastes at the festival, too. Love stories, documentaries, westerns, horror films, sci-fi, comedy, detective tales…we’ve got ‘em all. To top it all off, we’ll have some of the filmmakers present so you can hang out with  them at some incredible parties around town and after the movies.

While my initial wish may have resulted in me getting to watch way more movies than any human should really view in a lifetime, my real hope is to help create a festival by the community of Sheridan for the community of Sheridan. This volunteer-run festival would not happen without the support of local businesses and individuals donating precious time and treasure to see it succeed. Look up our sponsors and please tell them thank you.

If you were able to check out the festival last year, we have more great flicks for you to watch and some incredible events to attend during the weekend. If this year will be your first year…boy, have we got some movies for you! Check out the movies on our website. I’ll see you at the movies in October!

 

Justin Stroup is the director and organizer of the WYO Film Festival planned for Oct. 4-6 in Sheridan.