Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival highlights local hits, debuts

The Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival is an opportunity to surrender. Viewers surrender to the world of film and the stories that lie within. As a director, the festival is an opportunity to surrender one’s creative work to the judgment of the audience, and to the potential glory of approval.

“There are typically over 400 entries for the ­Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, and I watch them all so I can get to know all the filmmakers out there,” said Thomas ­Phillipson, the ­festival’s ­manager.

The festival started on Friday and runs through Saturday at the Northwest Film Center. The films running over the course of those seven days will cover myriad subjects both taboo and tantalizing. Tickets are available online.

The festival includes all kinds of films, from ­lighthearted and ­whimsical to deep and disturbing, as well as one powerful love story.

Cold Light Day, a short film defined by its focus on dance, light and blowing wind, is set on a wharf in Seattle, Washington. Director Dayna Hanson takes the Lakebay Marina and turns it into a dais for the dancers.

Hanson said the setting was a significant inspiration for the film.

“There was something creepily tranquil about the atmosphere of the spot that got under my skin, and I loved the long dock,” Hanson said. “I love the genre of dance film and approached [the actors] to see if they were interested in joining me on a mini-adventure. They were, and so was cinematographer Jacob Rosen.”

Hanson said she began working on Cold Light Day last winter on the heels of premiering a major live performance that was several years in the making.

“I was longing to make the equivalent of a short story or prose poem in a form I could start, make and finish fast,” Hanson said.

BFE, a film directed by Shawn Telford, debuted on Sunday.

BFE tells the story of Ian and his grandfather as they set out on an impromptu adventure. Along the way they meet Ellie, who is on a sojourn of her own in the quest for love. The cast is rounded out by Zack, a young romantic whose future hangs in the balance.

The quartet, all from a town of little consequence rife with violence and drugs, are on a mission to make meaning of their lives.
Telford said his film deals with a lot of tough material.

“The film is trying to say something about violence and rape,” Telford said.

Telford holds a master’s degree in acting through the University of Washington’s professional actor training program. Although he is an actor, his heart lies in writing and directing.

Telford’s film started in 2008 as a short script, and has evolved over the past few years into a feature-length film. Having recently returned from the American Film Festival in Poland where BFE was up for awards, Telford is looking forward to the festival screening.

“I am very proud of my ­actors. They all gave very fine performances,” Telford said.

Anxious Oswald Greene, Beyond Murder and the particularly colorful animated film Cooped, if failing to produce fits of laughter, will bring tears to eyes, or ­possibly both.

Topping off the festival on the final evening will be Beth Harrington’s The Winding Stream which was screened at the Reel Music Festival in October.

“I most look forward to the shorts programs at the festival. They are particularly strong this year and I enjoy putting them together like mix tapes—with great variety of styles of films and diversity of filmmakers, yet with a flow that allows each one to have its moment,” Phillipson said.