The Gig Harbor Film Festival returns on Friday (Oct. 17) with its usual mix of local, national and foreign films, ranging from shorts to feature-length movies.
An opening night gala with the comedy “Frank V. God” preceded the festival on Thursday.
Some of the filmmakers who have created the 40-plus films at this year’s festival will be in attendance for Q&A sessions.
Film festivals have become a cottage industry of late. While they offer budding and independent filmmakers an opportunity to gain attention, they also have their detractors. Nonrefundable film entry fees range from $25 to $75 and higher. Some filmmakers claim their work isn’t even viewed by some festival programmers.
GHFF executive director Marty Thacker said that will never happen in Gig Harbor. Four groups of festival members divvy up the 200 films submitted.
“We watch it from beginning to end. We discuss their strong points and weak points and we either accept or reject,” Thacker said. “We kept everyone hopping.”
That process also guarantees a varied roster of films, she said.
The short film “Reinventing the Patriot” asks the question “Do you believe in superheroes?” In this case, the superheroes are students at Federal Way High School.
The film, which is having its premiere at GHFF, is a hybrid documentary and spoken-word story. It’s based upon Paige Edmiston’s award-winning essay, “What True Patriotism Means to Me: A New Breed of Superhero for the 21st Century.”
The film was made by Paige’s father, entertainment attorney and veteran filmmaker Steve Edmiston.
The essay serves as the film’s narrative, spoken by a variety of students. The film follows an eight-month student-led campaign in 2012 that lobbied for the construction of a new $120 million state-of-the-art school. The students donated their time despite the fact they would graduate long before its completion. The school is currently in the planning stages.
“The Strong People” isn’t the only documentary chronicling the removal of the Elwha River dam on the Olympic Peninsula. But this one is told through the eyes of members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe that have long made the area their home.
Co-director Heather Hoglund was drawn to the story by the complexity of the dam removal. “It wasn’t just an environmental concern, it was a cultural concern with having the Klallam tribe and their roots so deeply engrained in the area,” she said.
The Emerson College graduate studied both documentary making and science, so she considered it a perfect combination of her two passions.
The 36-minute film was shot from 2011 to 2013.
“In the film, you’ll see a weaving of environmental perspectives and cultural perspectives. While you’ll hear from scientists and scholars, you also hear from tribal elders. Restoring the Elwha River went hand in hand with preserving the history and culture of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe,” Hoglund said.
“Though I learned a lot about the dam removal, I think I learned the most about the tribe. I think that the most rewarding experience while working on this project was forming relationships and memories with a group of people I would have otherwise never come to know,” she said.
Director Howard Cook manages the University of Colorado’s Digital Animation Center. He will speak on the state of animation in the film industry.
Kids ages 4-12 will watch six ocean-themed short films, and receive a snack pack, craft kit and coupon for Teaching Toys toy shop. The cost is $6 per child, who must be accompanied by an adult (no cost for adults.)