Film Fest off to an early start on Folly Beach 

Film Fiesta

The Charleston International Film Festival doesn't officially begin until April, but on Saturday night, the generosity of a board member let local film fans party like it was already in full swing.

The invitation-only get-together, dubbed "Backyard Sessions Vol. 1," was held at a beautiful Folly Beach home and featured music by locals Graham Whorley and Will Austin. The musicians' low-key, but somehow cosmopolitan acoustic stylings were a perfect soundtrack for this crowd: uber-cool people from Charleston and beyond, trying to act like they'd let their hair down.

But that's not to say that the gathering was pretentious by any means. Most of the party took place in the huge backyard, where the vibe was friendly and a smiling dog trotted around, offering his chew toy to anyone willing to go a few rounds of fetch with him. Distinguished patrons of the arts mingled with downtown scenesters, and artists shot the breeze with Folly locals who just like a good party.

The two most popular spots outdoors were the fire pit, even though it wasn't really that cold, and the open bar, which served up healthy doses of Hendrick's gin and Sailor Jerry's rum — so healthy, in fact, that the liquor ran out about an hour before the party ended. Out front, Crosby's food truck offered shrimp and yummy fried foods both to revelers who needed something to soak up all that gin, and to people who were just plain hungry.

Toward the end of the evening, an alternate musical performance started up inside with a young Atlanta-based pianist and various amateur and professional singers, drawing a rowdy audience made up mostly of the host's personal friends.

The crowd started thinning around 11, the official end time, and we left soon after so as not to overstay our welcome. Luckily, by then all the booze was pretty much gone; and now that we think about it, we've got to give props to the party planners for such a clever move. There's no better way to get people to leave.

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