This Fall, the San Juan Islands will be the Northwest
hot spot for film festivals. Orcas Island will host both
the Orcas Island Film Festival October 7–10 and the
one day Wild and Scenic Film Festival on November
12. Additionally, the Friday Harbor Film Festival on San Juan
Island will take place November 4–6. Each festival has its
own inspiring theme that will appeal to any movie buff.
“We want our films to be compelling stories that
encourage people to take action,” said Friday Harbor Film
Festival director Lynn Danaher. Friday Harbor’s festival is
about entertaining, inspiring, and enlightening the audience
about current issues from the Pacific Rim and beyond.
Although the films are generally from the Pacific region,
Danaher said the festival isn’t exclusive. Last year the
award-winning Ukrainian film, No Place on Earth was featured
at the festival.
While the films themselves are key, the festival is about
connecting communities and starting conversations. More
than 50 percent of the films shown offer discussion periods
after the screening for questions and conversation with the
director and experts on the films’ topic. “We want people to
become engaged to affect positive change and I don’t care if it
is saving whales or keeping bees or helping kids learn how to
read. It’s irrelevant what they do, what’s relevant is that they
do something,” Danaher said. The festival brought in about
1,200 people last year and has only been growing since its
inception four years ago.
Originally started in California, the Wild and Scenic Film
Festival advocates for environmental justice and education.
The festival is part of the film tour of the South Yuba River
Citizens League’s (SYRCL). “The really cool thing for me
is the environmental aspect. I think that is the draw for the
people we pull in,” said Orcas Center facilities director Jeffrey
Ludwig. The overall goal of the film festival is to spread
environmental activism through film. The one day event will
feature 14 films, all of varying length, for a total run time of
114 minutes. Also in its fourth year, the Wild and Scenic Film
Festival fills most of the Orcas Center’s 213 seats so be sure
to plan ahead.
The third annual Orcas Island Film Festival is focused
on bringing together the most progressive and innovative
directors and film styles all in one place. Films will be varied
in length, from all over the world, and chosen for their
creative techniques and message. The festival will screen more
than 30 films over the course of three days. With the summer
heat long gone, San Juan’s film festivals are a great way to
spend a weekend.