Unbalanced local support for islands film festivals | Guest Column

Submitted by Karen Palmer and Lynn Danaher

Friday Harbor Film Festival

The Friday Harbor Film Festival needs to thank so many people who gave their time and energy to this 5th annual event! We could not continue without our wonderful and dedicated volunteers, assisting us at every level. Plus, the fantastic venues, their existing staff with a special shout out to all at the San Juan Community Theatre and our newest venue the Palace Theater’s manager was a joy to work with and helped us immeasurably. Plus our generous sponsors helped tremendously by buying ads in our program and sponsoring films.

Of course, we could not host our filmmakers without our lodging sponsors who generously donated accommodations, Friday Harbor Suites, Earthbox, Island Inn, Friday Harbor House, San Juan Property Management, Argyle B & B and Friday Harbor Grand.

Our opening night gala was made possible by many local restaurants, who provided most of the food; Cheescake Café, Coho, Duck Soup, Felicitations, La Authentica, Roche Harbor, Salty Fox, Spring Street Deli, The Bean, Top’sl and Cynthia’s, who also expertly coordinated the gathering and distribution of all the food. The restaurants the remained open throughout the weekend enjoyed a brisk business.

A special thanks to Tommy Transit and Michele Hall who brought the Hummingbird Café bus from Galiano Island to share ruckus rides throughout town in celebration to the film “Going Further.” To the kindness shown by San Juan Airlines to Dylan Thomas who arrived from Kauai wearing board shorts and flip-flops, he was loaned a jacket and given a ride from the airport.

Several Filmmakers from across the globe told us that this is the BEST community film festival they’ve ever attended, comparing us to Berlin, Toronto, Sundance and Cannes. They loved the amazing and thought-provoking selection of films, the venues, the charming town and all the friendly volunteers. Our beautiful location, our selection of six great venue’s, all within easy walking distance, the many restaurants to select from, plus the flawless organization of entire event made for a great impression and they all want to return.

After an amazing weekend of accolades from all the attendees and calculating a 13 percent increase in attendance, (most from out of county) on Monday we attended the San Juan County Council meeting where the 2018 Lodging Tax Advisory Committee grants were announced. Orcas resident Rick Hughes chairs the LTAC council. We found out that the Orcas Film Festival was to receive $20,000, the full amount they had requested or 18 percent of their budget. The FHFF was to receive only $5,000, we had asked for only 10 percent of our budget or $12,000. The imbalance left us extremely disappointed. We felt a severe lack of fairness. The FHFF hosts six venues for a total of 800 seats at any individual screening, the Orcas Film Festival only has two venues for a total of 300 seats…very unbalanced.

If you agree the FHFF deserves to be funded no less than the Orcas Film Festival please write and tell your friends to write the SJCC about this unfair discrepancy and obvious favoritism.

Send your letters to each councilman as they have the ability to award more fairly.

Write to rickh@sanjuanco.com, billw@sanjuanco.com and jamies@sanjuanco.com.

Thanks to our entire community for your unwavering support!