On the heels of hiring a new executive director and the addition of several new board members, the ninth annual Gig Harbor Film Festival hits the screen this year with a bigger lineup and a full list of directors who will make an appearance during the three-day event.
This year’s festival, which runs Oct. 20 to 23 at the Galaxy Theatres, will feature 46 films, a 50-percent increase over last year.
“Our long-term goal is to make the Gig Harbor Film Festival the most respected film festival in the Pacific Northwest,” said Dennis Minor, the festival’s submissions director.
Jenny Wellman, previously a festival board member for more than two years, was named executive director in June. Wellman and the GHFF board have expanding the festival’s offerings, including events throughout the year and further connecting the festival within the community, and Wellman has hit the ground running in her new position.
“Working in accounting and operations with the festival over the past two years, I’ve been inspired by those who have come before me, the board, and all of the incredible volunteers we have,” Wellman said. “We knew there was more to be done to help lift the festival to the next level, and it is my goal to achieve all that we’ve outlined in our plan.”
This year’s opening-night film is “Shoot First,” a documentary charting the fascinating career of Harry Benson, a premier photo journalist. Benson, a native of Scotland, initially rose to fame while photographing the Beatles on their inaugural 1964 trip to the United States. He captured some of the group’s most vibrant and intimate photos ever recorded during their early days of becoming the most famous band in history. His extensive portfolio grew to include iconic photos of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Bobby Fischer, Greta Garbo and hundreds of other celebrities.
But he also used his visionary photographic talents to capture historical images such as the plight of international refugees and war victims as well as the iconic image of Robert F. Kennedy immediately after being assassinated. His wide-ranging work has appeared in publications including Life, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.
Other films that will be screened at the Gig Harbor Film Festival include:
▪ “It Had to Be You,” starring Cristin Milioti, a Tony-nominated and Grammy-winning actress know for her work on television’s “How I Met Your Mother” in the titular role of the Mother, the “Wolf of Wall Street” and the Tony-winning musical “Once.”
▪ “Wildlike,” starring Bruce Greenwood, about a gruff backpacker who helps a troubled teen trek through the Alaskan wilderness to make her way back home to Seattle.
▪ “Trespass Against Us,” starring Michael Fassbender, which was selected to be screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released in the United Kingdom in November.
▪ “The Memory of Fish,” a documentary portrait of one man, the wild salmon he loves, and his fight to free a river. The film was produced by Emma Jones, a resident of Sequim.
More than 10 filmmakers will be in attendance throughout the three-day event.
“Shoot First,” will light up the screen Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Galaxy Theatre, and will be followed by a gala event at the Harbor History Museum, which will include light hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer from Harmon Brewing Co. and specialty cocktails from Heritage Distilling. Friday’s and Saturday’s films will be playing throughout the day and evening at the Galaxy, culminating in an awards breakfast on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Hub at Gig Harbor, located at the Tacoma Narrows Airport.
The best way to take advantage of the full slate of events and films is to purchase a VIP gold pass, which includes admission to all of the films and events during the festival. There are other levels of passes and tickets to individual events that are available for purchase as well. To purchase tickets and view the complete schedule of films, visit the festival’s website at gigharborfilmfestival.com or follow the festival on Facebook.