Ellensburg film festival to showcase diverse films

Cassandra Hays, Editor-in-Chief

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The 15th annual Ellensburg Film Festival is returning to Ellensburg from October 4-6.

According to Ginny Ann Blackson, who is on the board of directors for the Ellensburg Film Festival, over 26 films will be shown over the course of three days at three different venues: McConnell Theatre, The Kittitas County Historical Museum and Hal Holmes Community Center. 

The film festival takes place on the first weekend of October each year. Blackson said the festival features films that typically would never be shown in Ellensburg.

“Often they are quirky and unusual films,” Blackson said. “We seek out films made by Washington film makers…in addition to films from all over the country.”

This years festival will have a “retro” theme, according to Blackson.

“We’re kind of going back to how the film festival was done in its early days,” Blackson said.

The festival will feature classic films such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, in addition to independent films. Blackson said the films were selected with the intention of speaking to many different generations.

Keith Alholm, a film student at CWU who is on the board of directors for the Ellensburg Film Festival this year, said the lineup of films this year is both diverse and challenging. The films will challenge personal beliefs and get people thinking, Alholm said. 

“[Ellensburg has] a small town community feel but it’s also progressive in a lot of ways because of the university and people in the community are very forward thinking,” Alholm said.

International films from countries like Afghanistan and Japan will also be shown at the festival. These films will give insight into how filmmaking differs from country to country as well as how independent filmmaking has progressed as film equipment has become more accessible.

“It’s interesting to see what other places are doing and where the state of film is going and how it’s changing,” Alholm said. “Someone almost anywhere can pick up a camera and tell a story and it will look good.”

Alholm emphasized that the experience of watching a film on a big screen can change the way a film is interpreted or perceived. The social environment of a film festival is one of many reasons to try to attend, Alholm said.

“A film festival is a communal experience and the communal experience changes how we experience the film,” Alholm said. “It becomes much more of a social event that you’re sharing with other people.”

The Ellensburg Film Festival will also feature films created by CWU students. Three student-directed films will be shown at 2 p.m. on Saturday in McConnell Theatre. According to Alholm, the festival has always tried to keep a strong connection with the film program at CWU. He encourages people to come out and experience a wide range of low budget, independently directed films.

“When you go to a film festival, you’re supporting up-and-coming filmmakers,” Alholm said. “I think that is an essential thing to do, because these are the people who are going to make the movies of tomorrow.”

The Ellensburg Film Festival will feature many short films which Alholm said most people would never get to see on a big screen. The diverse selection of films as well as the community experience of the festival have kept people coming back year after year, according to Blackson.

“I think it’s one of Ellensburg’s best little festivals…it’s just a tradition in town,” Blackson said. “We have people come from out of town and they come back each year, and we have our local people who are always there. We have a good set of volunteers who help us out and a strong board of directors.”

The festival will kick off with a cocktail reception for pass holders and sponsors at the Kittitas County Historical Museum on Friday night. A full schedule of films as well as screening times and locations is available at ellensburgfilmfestival.com.