Contributed photo/Matt Pranger
                                FHFF team; Karen Palmer, Barbara and Ted Janulis, Lynn Danaher, Malcom Suttles, and Susan Waters.

Contributed photo/Matt Pranger FHFF team; Karen Palmer, Barbara and Ted Janulis, Lynn Danaher, Malcom Suttles, and Susan Waters.

Small town film festival brings big success to San Juan Island

  • Sun Nov 19th, 2017 1:58pm
  • Life

Submitted by the Friday Harbor Film Festival

The fifth annual Friday Harbor Film Festival scored another great weekend of shoulder season crowds and highly rated documentary films. The weekend started with the packed, Opening Night Filmmakers Gala at the San Juan Community Theatre. Members of the Samish Nation performed a heartfelt invocation in honor of the 2017 Andrew V. McLaglen Lifetime Achievement winner Elouise Cobell, the award was presented posthumously to her nieces Cher and Joey Cobell, followed by the screening of her life; “100 Years, One Woman’s Fight for Justice.”

Over 30 filmmakers attended, from as far away as New Zealand. They participated in both the Q&A after each film and the Filmmakers Forum, as well as mingling with the crowds and watching other films. The president of the Explorers Club traveled from New York City to attend and emcee the awards night.

The winners of the 2017 Friday Harbor Film festival were:

Overall Audience: “Score: A Film Music Documentary,” Matt Schrader

Best Short: “A Hand to Stand,” Matt Miles and Lindsay Marie Stewart

Category Favorites:

Explorers and Adventures: “Yasuni Man,” Ryan Killackey

Tales of the Heart: “Harry & Snowman,” Ron Davis

Things to Consider: A tie between “Crazywise,” Phil Borges and Kevin Tomlinson and “River Blue,” Roger Williams

Our Local Hero this year was a young man from Orcas Dylan D’Haeze who screened his two films, “Plastic is Forever” and “Tipping Point.”

The Young Filmmakers Project award went to a young woman from Duncan, British Columbia – Angie Violet Hawes for “His First Time.” This tied in perfectly with the film “Angst,” which had a special screening for all schools on Thursday night.

Each of these films, plus six of the highest scoring films will be screened this winter, twice per month, at the San Juan Island Grange on Tuesday nights.

Each winning film received a handmade metal salmon, that perfectly represents the region.

More people than ever attended from outside the county. Attendance overall increased by 13 percent with most of that increase coming from the entire Pacific Northwest California and across the United States. Restaurants and coffee shops that stayed open throughout the film festival were crowded. Attendees and filmmakers raved about the quality of the film festival. One of the winning filmmakers, Roger Williams for “River Blue,” wrote:

“The quality of the films was second to none, and I’m not just saying that I truly felt honored to be in the presence of so many great and high profile films and filmmakers.

Even though the festival may be smaller than some we have attended the level of professionalism exceeds many larger festivals we have been at. The communication back to the filmmakers, the filmmaker forum and the screenings I attended were all first class. I really appreciated being able to attend and provide a Q&A and found the caliber of the questions from the audience to be both educated and thoughtful.

I have no idea what it really takes to put on a film festival but I would assume it is no small feat. The amount of support I felt in your community and even on the ferry coming to Friday Harbor was extraordinary. I met numerous people from various parts of the US and Canada so the benefit to the region in travel, meals and accommodations must be a good boost to the local economy.

It’s important to us filmmakers that great festivals like the FHFF continue and grow in the coming years. I will certainly promote the FHFF to other filmmakers as a must-attend film festival and one to try to get their films into.”

The event ended Sunday evening with Festival Director Lynn Danaher reading a poem, in which she received a standing ovation. Read the poem, below:

“The Day After the Election,” By Lynn Danaher

Written the morning of Nov. 8, 2016, after a sleepless night

Each day begins with a promise…the dawn

As day renews we must all pledge to go on

First a bright pink sliver of light below the steel grey clouds

As I waken to the new day and ponder all the crowds

Of people confused, terrified and feeling left behind

Those seeking the freedom we represent, all those behind the lines

Our fragile world is gasping for all we hold dear

The soil that gives us our food, the water, the air

How can we all meet, the challenges ahead?

It is thru our own integrity, our hearts while remaining fast stead

We must continue each new day, with great resolve

To work together on all the concerns that together we can solve

Turn around the divisiveness that is infecting our beautiful land

We must all make a commitment to reach out with a helping hand

Support all who are working hard but still feel suppressed

Standing rock, the refugees, our homeless and all those under duress

For isn’t that the message our country has always shown

Freedom, opportunity, equality, inclusiveness; that is how we have grown

Our promise to each other should be to remain positive and steady

Keeping a course of clear action will ensure we are ready

The dawn brightens into pale pink but the grey clouds remain

That should be our metaphor to erase the dark away.

Take the time to reach out to those you cannot understand

Listen to their concerns, be open, remind them this is all our land

The power of inclusiveness, empathy and love is a better way

These actions to all work together will ensure us a new day.

So please take this message deep into your heart

We must all remain focused and commit to do our part.

The dawn is brighter now, the warmth and light of the sun illuminate

The grey clouds turn to blue with the promise it’s not too late!

We must remain focused and true to the mission of the Friday Harbor Film Festival.

To entertain, inspire and enlighten.


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