WILLCOX — Ride on, cowboys!

Willcox Theater showed three days of independent Western films for this year’s annual Wild Bunch Film Festival.

The Wild Bunch Film Festival is a national Western screenplay and movie competition. Located at the Willcox Historic Theater, screenwriters and directors mingled as the festival spanned Rex Allen Days weekend.

In addition to film screenings, there was a red-carpet award show, which was hosted by Charlie LeSueur and Bobbi Jeen Olson, and there were multiple filmmaker question-and-answer sessions.

“This year has been a lot better than last year. Last year, we had the wine festival in conjunction with it, and we moved it to the Rex Allen Days, which is geared more towards Westerns, so this is like icing on the cake for us,” said Rock Whitehead, film festival director.

There was a competition for feature films with multiple subgenres. A record-breaking number of entries were submitted to this year’s festival, with more than 100 screenplays and films submitted. Among the entered films were music videos, zombie Westerns, vampire Westerns, as well as modern Western genres.

John Carter Cash, son of Johnny and Jean Cash, entered a film into the festival titled “Dragon Song.” Cash wrote the music to the film. In a sweep of the award ceremony Sunday night, “Dragon Song” took home six awards, including the festival’s Best Short Film award, Best Actor for John Carter Cash, Best Actress for Christina Cash, as well as Best Director (Short) for David McClister. On Sunday, LeSueur asked John Carter Cash what was coming next for him, and Cash said he anticipates an upcoming documentary.

“There’s a film coming out; I think it’s going to be released on YouTube on the 11th of October. It’s called “The Journey of Johnny Cash.” It’s probably my favorite Cash documentary. So that’s coming out,” John Cash said.

“There are so many amazing projects that are being showcased. There were over 100 film projects which were entered and over 90 screenplays. So about half of those are being nominated as feature films from different projects, and about 36 screenplays are finalists,” said Bobbi Jeen Olson, co-host of the festival and actress, producer and host of “Western Trading Post TV.”

“This is huge for the Western lifestyle; this is huge for the Western film genre. Think about it: We have people from all over the world to be here because they have their films in the festival.”

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