It's cruel how many film festivals there are out there. If you're a movie buff, barely a day goes by that you're not reading about some awesome sounding fest on the other side of the world. Well, if you happen to live in or around Asheville, North Carolina, you finally have one to call your own. Rejoice, now the rest of the world gets to hate you for being the hometown of the brand new ActionFest!

I should hope from the title it's self-explanatory what genre ActionFest is honoring, but in case it's not, here's another clue: They'll be giving Chuck Norris a Lifetime Achievement Award. That alone makes me want to hop on a plane for the fest, which runs April 15th to the 18th. Compounding my envy is the actual ActionFest lineup. They've just announced the first wave of titles and my ass is sore just from reading it; I flinch at the thought that a second wave is going to arrive at some point.

The full press release and lineup is below, but in short ActionFest will be blood sporting 3 world premieres, 3 North American premieres, 2 US premieres, and 9 regional premieres (not too shabby for a first time festival). All the titles sound fascinating, but I can vouch for The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Centurion and Vengeance as all being musts for anyone in the vicinity. Plus, did I mention Chuck Norris will be there?

Film badges are as low as $65 (which averages out to about $3 per movie), it's all held in a single location (so there's no rushing across town to make the next screening), and all profits go to Kickstar Kids, Norris' charity that helps high-risk middle school kids learn discipline through martial arts training (which sounds like the plot of a movie).

Asheville, NC – March 25, 2010 ActionFest, the first film festival devoted exclusively to action films, announced 25 films today that will be featured in its inaugural edition, set for Thursday, April 15 through Sunday, April 18, at the Carolina Cinemas in Asheville, NC. The films announced include 3 world premieres, 3 North American premieres, 2 U.S. premieres and 9 regional premieres, including special retrospectives and rare theatrical screenings of two of Chuck Norris' classics, CODE OF SILENCE and BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III, which will be introduced in person by Chuck Norris and Aaron Norris, the director of BRADDOCK and stunt coordinator for CODE OF SILENCE. Neil Marshall's CENTURION will open the festival on Thursday, April 15th.

ActionFest head of programming Tom Quinn states, "It's not every day you get to put together a lineup of nothing but great action movies, and I relished the opportunity. These films are such a blast, and I'm pleased to say we've received nothing but support from all of the filmmakers and distributors we've approached. There is no question that ActionFest is going to tear the house up this year."

The festival is also pleased to announce the closing night event honoring action superstar Chuck Norris with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the field of action cinema. This event will take place at The Orange Peel, Asheville's preeminent concert venue, on Sunday, April 18, at 9:30 p.m., with tickets going on sale, Thursday, March 25, at noon EST at the Orange Peel's website (www.theorangepeel.net). As previously reported, all of ActionFest 2010's profits will go to Kickstart Kids, Chuck and Gena Norris' charitable foundation whose goal is to build strong moral character through martial arts training. Kickstart Kids works with over 6,000 high-risk middle school students as part of a daily school curriculum, and has graduated over 60,000 students since its inception in 1992. For more information, go to www.kick-start.org.

"I'm excited to be part of the inaugural ActionFest," said Chuck Norris. "I'm proud to be a part of a film festival that honors and recognizes the people who put the action in action films. I can't wait to get to Asheville."
Joining Chuck Norris in Asheville will be veteran stunt coordinator/2nd unit directors Jeff Habberstad, Kinnie Gibson, and Paul Weston, all three of whom will participate in panel discussions and be honored at the closing night ceremony. Longtime veterans of the action film industry, these three have wracked up credits that read like a who's who of action films. Weston has served as Stunt Coordinator on THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS and LICENSE TO KILL, in addition to such films as ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THEIVES and ALIENS; Habberstad is one of the industry's most in-demand stunt coordinators, serving in that capacity on all of M. Night Shymalan's films and serving as 2nd unit director on SPIDER-MAN, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and the upcoming THE LAST AIRBENDER; Gibson was Chuck Norris' stunt double for the nine year run of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, as well as on many of Chuck Norris' feature films.. All three will be on hand for the panel THE ART OF 2nd UNIT at ActionFest on Saturday, April 17.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, Chuck Norris and his fellow jury members will announce their picks for the festival's top jury prize. Joining Mr. Norris on the jury are some of the more respected online film critics and festival programmers working today: Colin Geddis, head of programming for Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival; Todd Brown, founder and editor of Twitchfilm.net; Drew McWeeney, screenwriter and chief film writer for HitFix.com; and Devin Faraci, chief film critic for CHUD.com.

Following the awards ceremony, ActionFest will close with Asheville's own, The Reigning Sound. The Reigning Sound is one of the more exciting rock 'n roll bands today, and its latest CD, "Love & Curses," was named the #1 album of 2009 by several music critics..
A complete schedule will be made available on Monday, April 5th, along with additional information about purchasing tickets.
ACTIONFEST 2010 FILMS WILL INCLUDE:
WORLD PREMIERES
OPERATION: ENDGAME (World Premiere) – Zack Galifanakis, Rob Corddry, Ving Rhames, and Emile De Raven star in this new comedy thriller about two teams of assassins locked in an underground facility, each out to discover who murdered their boss before they're all offed. (Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)
THE STRANGER (World Premiere) – "Stone Cold" Steve Austin stars as an FBI agent out to find a material witness to a top-secret investigation. (Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)
UNDISPUTED III: REDEMPTION (World Premiere) – Modern martial arts masters Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror (MANDRILL) square off in this third chapter of the popular prison boxing series, as champion fighter Uri Boyka (Adkins) is transferred to a Ukraine prison to fight in the first prison fighting tournament, where the winner is granted freedom and the loser... death!
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERES
14 BLADES (North American Premiere) – During the Ming Dynasty, a secret agent of the emperor's court is betrayed and then hunted down by his former colleagues. Starring martial arts legends Donnie Yen (IP MAN) and Sammo Hung (DRAGONS FOREVER), 14 BLADES was recently nominated for "Best Action Choreography" at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards.
BEOSURO (North American Premiere) – An official selection at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, BESURO is the emotional true story of the legendary capoeira fighter from Bahia, who was rumored to fly and leads an uprising of slaves to gain their freedom.
RAGING PHOENIX (North American Premiere) – CHOCOLATE's JeeJa Yanin returns to fight off a vicious band of kidnappers with the help of a new form of Muay Thai that combines martial arts and hip hop dance moves!
U.S. PREMIERES
POWER KIDS (U.S. Premiere) – When their best friend is in need of a heart transplant, a plucky group of kids band together against a group of terrorists who have seized the hospital moments before their friend's surgery. This outrageously fun martial arts adventure was produced by the same team behind ONG BAK and THE PROTECTOR.
VENGEANCE (U.S. Premiere) – Legendary Hong Kong action master Johnnie To teams up with legendary French singer Johnny Halliday for this stylish gunplay drama about a former hitman turned chef who travels to Macau to find the men who murdered his daughter's family. (Courtesy of IFC Films)
REGIONAL PREMIERES
DIRTY MIND (Regional Premiere) – From director Pieter Van Hess (LEFT BANK), DIRTY MIND tells the story of a meek and mild technician who suffers an injury on a film set and emerges as the suave and fearless "Tony T", who sets out to become a legendary stuntman in an effort to escape his loser past.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (Regional Premiere) – South Korea's smash hit finally hits the U.S.! A South Korean western inspired by Sergio Leone's classic THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, WEIRD stars Song Kang-Ho (THE HOST) as one of a group of desperate gunslingers in 1930's Manchuria after a priceless treasure map. (Courtesy of IFC Films)
HARRY BROWN (Regional Premiere) Two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Caine returns to the action milieu of his legendary film GET CARTER as Harry Brown, a widowed and retired military man looking to live out the rest of his days in peace, but forced to take up arms again when his only friend is murdered by a local gang. (Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films)
MANDRILL (Regional Premiere) – Chilean martial arts star Marko Zaror (KILTRO; MIRAGEMAN) returns to the screen as the tough-as-nails hitman Mandrill, whose latest contract finally leads him to the man responsible for the murder of his parents.
MERANTAU (Regional Premiere) – Yuda, a young man from the Indonesian countryside must undergo Merantau, a traditional rite into manhood where he must leave home and find his place in the world. But upon his arrival in Jakarta he finds himself thrust into the world of human slave trading, with only his Silat skills to help him survive.
OUT OF OUR MINDS (Regional Premiere) – A special presentation of the new short film from acclaimed director Tony Stone (SEVERED WAYS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA) in collaboration with singer and guitarist Melissa Auf Der Maur (formerly of Hole). A fantasy world spawned from sound. Three time periods and three narratives, one connection-blood. At the center of this life force is the heart.
THE SQUARE (Regional Premiere) – Named one of the 10 best films of 2009 by Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, this acclaimed Australian thriller tells the story of a man trapped in a loveless marriage who carries on an affair with a mysterious woman with a dangerous husband. (Courtesy of Apparition)
TUCKER & DALE vs EVIL (Regional Premiere) – ActionFest livens things up with comedy, action and horror, as two country bumpkins are mistaken for serial killers by a group of clueless college kids in this midnight smash hit of the Sundance and SXSW film festivals.
VALHALLA RISING (Regional Premiere) – BRONSON director Nicholas Winding Refn teams with CASINO ROYALE star Mads Mikkelsen for this historical epic about Norse warriors in the year 1000 A.D. (Courtesy of IFC Films)
Special Retrospectives
BORN TO FIGHT (2004) – Panna Rittikrai, martial arts choreographer of Tony Jaa's ONG BAK films, directed this insanely fun stunt extravaganza about a small village overtaken by terrorists that fights back in spectacular style. This rare U.S. theatrical screening is part of ActionFest's Shomongkolfilm Retrospective (Courtesy of Dragon Dynasty)
GOLDEN BLADE III: RETURN OF THE MONEKY'S UNCLE – The only martial arts extravaganza shot entirely on location in Asheville, NC, GOLDEN BLADE III is an affectionate spoof of the classic Shaw Brothers films of the 1970s, right down to the cheap FX and bad dubbing. This special midnight screening will be accompanied by a live audio commentary from director TJ Weidow and members of the cast & crew.
WAKE IN FRIGHT (a.k.a. OUTBACK – 1971) – Once deemed a "lost" film, Ted Kotcheff's gripping 1971 thriller about a mild-mannered school teacher's crazed weekend in the Australian outback, has recently been restored and is now considered one of the greatest Australian films of all time.
Chuck Norris Retrospective
CODE OF SILENCE (1985) – Chuck Norris' most critically acclaimed film cast him as Chicago cop Eddie Cusack, who battles mobsters and corrupt cops in this outstanding police thriller from director Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE)

BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III – Chuck Norris teams with brother Aaron Norris (co-founder of ActionFest) for the third film in the MISSING IN ACTION series, where Col. James Braddock goes back to Vietnam to rescue his Amer-Asian son in this little-seen sequel, Chuck's personal favorite of the series.
ActionFest will be held exclusively at The Carolina Asheville, part of the Carolina Cinemas chain.
The Doubletree Biltmore Hotel is the official hotel for ActionFest. ActionFest sponsors include Epix; HD Net; Cheerwine; Coca-Cola; Universal Cinema Services; The Mountain Xpress; HitFix.com; Asheville Radio Group; The Grove Park Inn and The Brookstone Lodge.
Badges for ActionFest will go on sale at 12pm EST on Friday, March 25, 2010. Badges will include a Film Badge for $65 ($75 after April 1), that allows badge holders access to all features (seating permitted); The Action Badge gets badge holders into all panel discussions and the Closing Night Ceremonies, while the All-Access VIP badge gets badge holders into all events. These badges are $100. All profits of the festival go to Kickstart Kids.
Individual show tickets will go on sale in early April. The complete schedule (with additional titles) will be announced on Monday, April 5.
Tickets can be purchased at www.actionfest.com or at the Carolina Cinemas Asheville box office. Follow ActionFest on Twitter at @actionfest.
About ActionFest
Actionfest was founded by Bill Banowsky and Aaron Norris. Tom Quinn is the Head of Programming and Matthew Kiernan is the Festival Director. Inquiries about ActionFest can be sent to info@actionfest.com.