Tryon International Film Festival 2023 banner


Films for 2023 Announced

Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game film poster

Friday Gala Feature Film 7:00pm and 9:15

Pinball tells the story of Roger Sharpe, the GQ journalist and real-life pinball wizard who in 1976 single-handedly overturned New York City’s 35-year ban on pinball machines.
Tryon International Film Festival image

Attention Selected Filmmakers

Maximize Your Exposure!

How to Break a World Record film poster

Special Saturday Feature 7:45pm

A rock band with a propensity to create their own adventures attempts to bring a mandolin Guinness World Record from India to their hometown in Greenville, South Carolina.

Along the way, they discover it’s far more challenging than they had ever imagined, and there’s suddenly a lot riding on their ability to succeed in this one-of-a-kind documentary film.

The Tryon International Film Festival (TRIFF) is the signature program of the Polk County Film Initiative (PCFI), a 501C3 non-profit organization. PCFI was founded in 2014 with a one-year film-making course for youth, titled The Next Generation Film Project.  PCFI’s TRIFF began in 2015 and serves the WNC & Upstate SC with a weekend long film festival in October each year, film screenings & education opportunities. For more information about PCFI, TRIFF or how you can get involved,  please contact Debra Torrence at

A Three-Day Cinematic Odyssey at the Tryon International Film Festival

Introduction: Lights, Camera, Tryon!

The Tryon International Film Festival, nestled in the heart of a charming southern town, beckoned me for a three-day cinematic odyssey in October 2022. This narrative chronicles my immersive journey through this remarkable festival, where I encountered outstanding cinema, warm hospitality, and a sense of belonging that transcended the confines of a movie screen.

As a female filmmaker traveling alone, I approached this adventure with a mix of caution and excitement. However, what I experienced over the course of these three days left me not only comfortable but also overwhelmed by the safety and warmth that enveloped me. By the end of it all, I found myself reluctant to board a plane back to Los Angeles, as the Tryon International Film Festival had become a temporary home away from home.


Day 1: The VIP Kick-off Party and Cinematic Excitement

TRIFF past gala imageEvening: VIP Kick-off Party

My three-day journey through the Tryon International Film Festival commenced with a touch of glamour and anticipation at the VIP Kick-off Party on Thursday evening. This exclusive pre-festival event set the stage for an unforgettable cinematic experience. Hosted at a charming old mansion known as Friendly Hills, in Tryon, the party was a gathering of VIP’s, sponsors, filmmakers, actors, and passionate cinephiles who had gathered to celebrate the upcoming festival.

As I mingled with fellow attendees, I couldn’t help but sense the palpable excitement in the air. The VIP Kick-off Party was a sneak peek into the world of cinema that awaited us over the next three days. The conversations were animated, filled with discussions about favorite films, directors, and the anticipation of the festival’s lineup.

The presence of notable actors, added an extra layer of excitement to the evening. It was a privilege to engage in casual conversations with these industry veterans, who generously shared their insights and anecdotes. This intimate gathering was a testament to the festival’s ability to create a sense of community among attendees.


Day 2: Southern Hospitality and Cinematic Wonders

Morning: Arrival and Welcoming Warmth

As the festival officially kicked off on Friday morning, I felt a renewed sense of enthusiasm and curiosity. The warm southern hospitality that had greeted me at the VIP Kick-off Party continued to embrace all festivalgoers. Tryon, with its quaint charm and friendly locals, provided the perfect backdrop for this cinematic journey.


TRIFF Tryon Theater imageAfternoon: The Historic Tryon Theatre – A Dream Venue

One of the festival’s highlights was the historic Tryon Theatre, a majestic gem that had been recently revamped with state-of-the-art technology. Stepping into this cinema was like entering a time capsule of cinematic grandeur. The screen, now equipped with cutting-edge visuals, promised to be the canvas for the diverse array of films that awaited me.


Evening: The Friday Night Gala – A Night to Remember

Friday night at the Tryon International Film Festival was nothing short of extraordinary. The anticipation had been building, and the gala exceeded all expectations. Held under a beautifully lit tent that radiated a warm, inviting glow, the gala was a celebration of cinema, community, and culinary delights.

The moment I stepped into the tent, I was greeted by a sensory feast. The food layout, meticulously curated by Ashley Menetre and her talented team, was nothing short of spectacular. There were ice sculptors, artists abound, all directly in front of the Tryon Theatre.  From savory appetizers to delectable desserts, every bite was a testament to culinary artistry. The flavors danced on my palate, leaving a lasting impression.

As I savored each bite, I couldn’t help but marvel at the effort that went into creating this culinary extravaganza. Ashley Menetre and her girls, as she referred to them, had poured their hearts into ensuring that every attendee experienced an unforgettable gastronomic journey.

The music at the gala was another highlight that added to the enchanting ambiance. It was not just background music; it was a live performance that set the tone for the evening. The melodies, whether soothing or upbeat, resonated with the spirit of celebration. It was a reminder that the Tryon International Film Festival was not just about films; it was about creating magical moments that would be cherished for years to come.

As the night unfolded, I found myself engaged in conversations with fellow attendees, sharing our impressions of the films we had seen and the experiences that had left us in awe. The Friday night gala was a culmination of all that the festival stood for—a perfect blend of cinematic wonder, culinary excellence, and the joy of community.


Day 3: A World of Filmmakers, Learning, and Celebration

Morning: Networking and Breakout Sessions

Saturday morning was a whirlwind of activity, and the educational component of the Tryon International Film Festival was a standout feature. Ashley Crane, the festival’s Director of Education, had masterfully curated a series of educational sessions, all housed at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. These sessions were a testament to the festival’s commitment to nurturing talent and promoting dialogue within the filmmaking community.

The Tryon Fine Arts Center buzzed with creative energy as filmmakers, both seasoned and emerging, gathered to expand their horizons. The diversity of topics covered was impressive, catering to all facets of the filmmaking process. It was evident that Ashley Crane had painstakingly crafted an educational program that would leave a lasting impact on attendees.


Notable Instructors Who Inspired and Enlightened

  1. Steven Esteb: A notable instructor who graced the educational component was Steven Esteb, a seasoned filmmaker known for his work in independent cinema. Esteb’s insights into the art of directing and producing were invaluable. His practical approach and willingness to share his experiences resonated with attendees.
  2. Kevin Bernhardt: Kevin Bernhardt, another distinguished instructor, brought his wealth of knowledge to the forefront. As a screenwriter and actor with a rich portfolio, his sessions on storytelling and screenwriting were enlightening. Attendees had the opportunity to learn from a master of the craft.
  3. Paul Reid: The presence of best-selling author Paul Reid added a unique dimension to the educational component. Reid’s expertise in storytelling, gained from his acclaimed biographical work, enriched the discussions on narrative structure and character development.
  4. Frank Calo: Writer Director Frank Calo, an esteemed instructor, shared his creative insights with attendees. His expertise in the world of filmmaking added depth to the educational component, inspiring aspiring filmmakers to pursue their passion.

These notable instructors, along with others, provided attendees with a rare opportunity to learn from industry experts. The educational component was not just about theoretical knowledge; it was a practical guide for those looking to make their mark in the world of cinema.


Afternoon: Exploring Tryon’s Beauty and Serenity

As the day progressed, I found myself exploring the picturesque town of Tryon and its serene surroundings. The town’s quaint charm, with its historic architecture and tree-lined streets, offered a perfect backdrop for leisurely strolls. The natural beauty of the area, with its rolling hills and scenic vistas, provided a serene respite from the bustling festival activities.


TRIFF party imageEvening: The Tito’s Experience – A Night to Savor

Saturday evening brought an unforgettable experience—the Tito’s Experience cocktail party. Sponsored by Tito’s Vodka, this event was a celebration of craft cocktails, camaraderie, and the joy of coming together.

Under the starry night sky, attendees gathered to savor an array of handcrafted cocktails featuring Tito’s Vodka. Mixologists showcased their skills, creating concoctions that delighted the senses. The party was a lively affair, with attendees mingling, sharing stories, and raising their glasses in celebration.

The Tito’s Experience was a testament to the festival’s ability to curate unique and memorable moments. It was not just an evening of libations; it was a celebration of the shared love for cinema and the connections forged during the festival.


Conclusion: The Tryon International Film Festival – A Must-Attend Experience

My three-day cinematic odyssey through the Tryon International Film Festival was an experience that exceeded all expectations. It was not just a festival; it was a celebration of cinema, a testament to the power of community, and a showcase of southern hospitality at its finest.

The Tryon Theatre, with its historic charm and modern technology, served as the perfect venue for cinematic storytelling. The festival organizers, Beau and Kirk, and their dedicated team, left an indelible mark with their warm hospitality and commitment to fostering a sense of belonging among attendees.

The festival’s emphasis on education, through breakout sessions and workshops, demonstrated its dedication to nurturing talent and promoting dialogue within the filmmaking community. From the unbelievable Friday night gala to the culinary delights of the Sunday brunch at the Greenlife Inn, every moment was a testament to the Tryon International Film Festival’s commitment to creating a comprehensive and enriching experience for all who attended.

TRIFF screening imageIt’s not just a festival; it’s a cinematic journey that will leave you inspired, connected, and eager to return for another chapter of cinematic exploration. The Tryon International Film Festival is a testament to the magic of cinema and the power of community, where every frame tells a story, and every attendee becomes a part of that narrative. Meeting Diana De Rosa in person was a pleasure.  Diana had interviewed me days earlier from her perch in NYC and my kitchen table in LA.  Finally meeting the humble gentlemen, Beau Menetre and Kirk Gollwitzer, who brought this unbelievable festival to life, left an indelible mark.


All I can say is “Wow!”


Signed:  An anonymous visitor




include an opening reception Gala and featured film from 5:30 – 8:30 PM.





TRIFF is Thrilled to Announce the 2023 Gala Opener



TRIFF 2023 Gala Opening Feature PINBALL: THE MAN WHO SAVED THE GAME | THE STORY OF ROGER SHARPEhas been selected to be the gala special feature film to officially open TRIFF 2023, scheduled for the evening of October 6 th at the Tryon Theatre.

“It is a heartwarming and humorous, coming-of-age film, that is both uplifting and educational. It’s also
fun and enjoyable to watch,” reports Kirk Gollwitzer, Co-Founder of TRIFF.

In 2020 the directorial team, The Bragg Brothers (Austin and Meredith Bragg), stumbled upon Roger
Sharpe’s story, how in 1976 he pulled back the plunger of a pinball machine in the New York City Council chambers, proving to a hostile council that pinball was a game of skill and not a game of chance.

Roger Sharpe will be on hand for an audience Q & A following the film.





New for 2023! Announcing the TRIFF Podcast Listening Room

iheart radio logo

The Tryon International Film Festival is proud to announce the debut of its exciting new addition, the Podcast Listening Room, in collaboration with iHeart Radio. This marks the festival’s first-ever inclusion of a dedicated space for podcast enthusiasts, spotlighting the burgeoning art of audio storytelling. The event will take place during the festival’s ninth edition, highlighting a carefully curated selection of captivating podcasts for attendees to indulge in.






More than 4300 attendees have participated in TRIFF. Funding for PCFI activities comes from donations, sponsorships, and ticket & merchandise sales. In 2022, the majority of funding for TRIFF came from area business sponsorships. 

Secure your sponsorship here for TRIFF 2023:

Sponsorship Opportunitues – Email

Download the TRIFF 2023 Sponsor Packet

Program Ad Sales

Print-ready copy is due by August 1, 2023.

Over the past 8 years, more than 4,300 attendees have participated in TRIFF. Funding for PCFI activities comes from donations, sponsorships, and ticket & merchandise sales. In 2022, the majority of funding for TRIFF came from area business sponsorships. Attendees hail largely from WNC & Upstate SC, with 20% from out of region/state/country. Attendees are typically between 25 – 60 years of age, with a growing youth population engaging with TRIFF activities. Buy an ad in the TRIFF 2023 program here or email Debra at Print-ready copy is due by August 1, 2023.

TRIFF23 ad sizes (inches):


1/4 pg –  2.1875 x 3.6875
1/2 pg – 4.5 x 3.6875
Full pg- 4.5 x 7.5
2-pg spread 10 x 7.5
Trim Size 5.5 x 8.5
Bleed Size* 5.75 x 8.75
*Back Cover, Inside Front & Inside Back Covers only
For  more info email Debra at
TRIFF 2023Official Poster


The Heart of this Film Festival is You!


Matthew Modine with Kirk and Beau


Independent films can shock, amaze, and make you take a second look at the world around you, and are a gift to the world of film.


What set this festival apart?

The whole town participates!


The perfect backdrop