What started as a local film festival in Des Moines eight years ago has grown to a weeklong international event. The Wild Rose Independent Film Festival opens today at the capitol city’s Fleur Cinema. Festival director Kimberly Busbee says this year’s crop of films showcases Iowa-made and Iowa-connected movies in addition to films from around the globe. They’re competing for awards in categories including: acting, directing, editing, cinematography, original music and more.

“We have over 40 movies out of almost 400 entries this year from all over the country and a lot of foreign film entries,” Busbee says. “Everything from the short independent film that you’d never see anywhere else to the big blockbusters before they hit the movie theatres, right before they’re premiered.”

The lineup include the first screenings of “The Experiment,” a film that was shot in Des Moines about 26 men who are chosen to take part in the roles of prisoners and guards in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control. It stars Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker and several Iowa actors. The festival will also feature the premiere of “A Million Spokes,” a ten-camera documentary shot entirely in Iowa about RAGBRAI, the largest and oldest bicycle touring event in the world.

“They even had cameras mounted on the handlebars of the bikes,” Busbee says. “They show all of the dedication, all of the partying, all of the wildness. They show one gentleman whose wife went with him on a prior RAGBRAI and has passed away and he’s scattering her ashes throughout the ride, so it’s very moving in places. It’s funny. It’s irreverent. It’s a great film for anybody, not just for bicycling enthusiasts.”

The festival will also offer several workshops designed to better educate budding actors, directors and other people wanting to break into the industry. Busbee says a Saturday workshop will feature an eastern Iowa native who became a daytime drama star. Ellen Dolan, who played the character Margo Hughes for 21 years on “As the World Turns,” will be teaching an acting workshop. Busbee says it’s “a really great opportunity for actors to learn how she has survived in the biz for all that time out in New York City.”

Workshops are also planned on how to find acting jobs in big markets and a seminar for musicians on how to break into doing scores for independent films. Learn more about the festival at: “www.ariesworks.com“.