The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Yes, the Carrboro Film Festival expands to two days and two venues this year. And yes, it will start showing films from all over the country (and the world) for the first time this year. But the festival that co-founder and curator Nic Beery jokingly calls “The Cannes of the Carolinas in the Paris of the Piedmont” hasn’t lost its devotedly local heart or its dedication to bringing exciting new films to a Carrboro audience.

Beery wants the festival to prove that “there are films out there beyond the superhero movies at the multiplex. There are filmmakers out there with $10,000 budgets making films that will make you think, make you laugh, and make you cry. Most of these films won’t make money – they’re made because of the filmmakers’ passion for creating small, intimate, personal stories for the screen.”

The variety of those stories unfolds over the eleven blocks (each of approximately two hours) that make up the festival. Saturday mixes shorts and full-length films in showings at both the ArtsCenter and the Century Center. Sunday returns to the familiar format of years past, with the Century Center playing host to a wonderfully diverse set of short subjects. And it’s all capped off with an after-party at Open Eye Cafe at 6:45.

Beery is an eager evangelist for the new-and-improved (but still home-grown) festival. “Just come to a block,” he says, “and if you like it, stay for another block. You’ll be amazed by the variety: you’ll get a film that takes you to Fiji, and then one that takes you to western Carolina, and then one that takes you to outer space, and then an animated film, and then a music video.”

He hopes it’s that diversity of subject and form that brings in more than a thousand people to see the films, to participate in the artist Q&A sessions after those films, and to learn from the free workshops how to make their own films. “I hope they have a great time, but I also hope they walk away inspired. People of all ages will see these films and say, ‘I can do that – I want to do that – I will do that. And then in future years we’re an avenue for them to show the films they make!”

What follows are five of Nic Beery’s personal favorites from this year’s 73-strong lineup at the Carrboro Film Festival. Each is shown in combined blocks with other films, so you’ll never see just one of them alone. And for the low price of $15, you can have the run of both days of the festival:

Granny’s Got Game (11AM on Saturday at the Century Center)
“The first documentary by former basketball star Angela Gorsica Alford. It tells the story of the ‘Fabulous Seventies,’ a 70-something women’s basketball team from Raleigh as they go to nationals.”

Dar He (1:30PM on Saturday at the Century Center)
“Local actor Mike Wiley plays more than 30 roles in this film about the lynching of Emmett Till.”

U-666 (3:15PM on Saturday at the ArtsCenter)
“An incredible film made by students at UNC School of the Arts. It’s about two men who find a German submarine in the forest. It goes back in time to discover how that submarine got there.”

45 RPM (4PM on Saturday at the Century Center)
“A great film made in the South by Juli Jackson. It’s the story of a young woman who goes on a search for a 45 rpm record that her father made in the 60s. She meets a man who owns a record store, and they take a road trip together to find what she’s looking for.”

The Possum Drop (2:35PM on Sunday at the Century Center)
“This wonderful documentary follows the case of a western North Carolina town that PETA wanted to stop from dropping a possum on New Year’s Eve – like the ball in Times Square. So many documentaries are serious, but funny documentaries like this one are much less common.”