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Two Arkansas films chosen for PBS Online Film Festival

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) has announced that two Arkansas independent films have been chosen for the 2014 PBS Online Film Festival. Now entering its third year, the annual event highlights short, independent films that are unique, thought provoking and represent the best of public media.

The PBS Online Film Festival, which will feature more than 25 short (three to 15 minutes) films, will kick off Monday, June 16, and run through Thursday, July 31. Arkansas films chosen for the festival include "Westland" and "Diamond John."

"AETN is proud and delighted that we can offer such an impressive platform for Arkansas filmmakers' works to be seen - by millions, really," AETN Executive Producer Carole Adornetto said.

"Westland," produced by photographer Diana Michelle, explores the life and art of reclusive Winslow, Ark., artist Tim West. Filmed over a period of six years, the film details West's active career - which spans more than 60 years - from his early success to his battles with personal demons and return home. West had what should have been an auspicious start when at age 18 he mailed a print and had it accepted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, followed by a pair of works he sent to the Louvre in Paris, where they were also accepted.

Michelle earned a degree in fine art with an emphasis in photography, as well as a bachelor of science in biology, from the University of Arkansas. She is the recipient of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts 2009 Annual Bibba Pruet Scholarship. She teaches photography and Photoshop at Northwest Technical Institute. Michelle has operated a portrait studio, Diana Michelle Photography, for the past six years and displays her art at local and regional galleries and museums.

"Diamond John," produced by Travis Mosler, is a period comedy about the wildly eccentric character John Wesley Huddleston and his family. He tries to support his wife and five daughters by digging for gold and precious minerals, but the ground has consistently turned up dry. When faced with the news that his family's home is facing imminent foreclosure and his wife is threatening to take their daughters and leave, Huddleston is forced to decide between getting a respectable job or continuing his passionate prospecting with unlikely hopes of striking it rich. Based on a true story.

Mosler graduated from the University of Central Arkansas's digital filmmaking program in 2013. In the summer of 2012, he was part of the Directing Intensive program at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. The short film he wrote, shot, directed and edited, "Out Alive," earned a place in the top five films of the program. He currently serves as the video content director at Agency 501 in Little Rock.

"For my final film at UCA and my Honors College thesis, I wanted to write and direct a short film that required much research and that honored the beautiful state that I live in," Mosler said. "It didn't take me long in my research to find this story that is a huge part of our history, and this character, Diamond John, who is hilarious.

"Ultimately, I would like to see Arkansans develop a stronger sense of pride in our state and its rich history."

The festival places PBS in a unique position to distribute new types of films, told in non-traditional ways on non-linear platforms. The films will be available across all PBS COVE video platforms - desktop, mobile, connected TV devices (Xbox, Roku and Apple TV) and YouTube. Starting June 16, viewers can watch the films at pbs.org/filmfestival and vote for their favorites. As with previous Festivals, the film with the most votes will receive a "people's choice" award.

In addition to partners "Independent Lens" and "POV," the festival will showcase the best in locally-produced independent films from PBS members stations KQED (San Francisco), KLRU (Austin), Houston PBS, Alaska Public Media, Vermont PBS, AETN, CET/ThinkTV (Cincinnati/Dayton), WCVE Richmond (Virginia) and Louisiana Public Television.

PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 109 million people through television and more than 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit tp://www.aetn.org">aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

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