PORT ORCHARD — The quaint independent movie theater Dragonfly Cinema, often overlooked by motorists buzzing along Bay Street, will proudly take a step forward into the limelight May 5-7 as it hosts the inaugural Port Orchard Film Festival.
The little theater has quietly been a showcase of independent, art house films over the past several years in South Kitsap. Many of the motion pictures shown at the Dragonfly have never been screened in the Puget Sound region, let alone anywhere else in Kitsap County. So it’s fitting the theater would host the city’s first film festival, with a packed three-day schedule of cinema as varied as the formats in which they’re presented.
Dragonfly Cinema owner Nick Taylor said the festival film offerings are eclectic, some running feature-length and others just 15 seconds long. Taylor said there are brilliantly colored animated films, gritty cinema verite-style documentaries, and feel-good inspirational presentations on the film schedule.
Taylor has been laboring practically non-stop the past month, alongside film festival director Amy Camp, to solicit entries — they have more than 110 of them scheduled to show — organize them into blocks of programming and take care of the hundreds of bits of minutiae needed to put on a film festival.
Camp said her festival partner Taylor “is the artistic one. I’m the organizational type.” Which is a great skill to have when piecing together an enormous project of this magnitude.
When they decided to stage a film festival, Camp and Taylor first began the recruitment process by soliciting film entries. Camp said that social media was a handy tool to reach filmmakers worldwide.
“The web has really helped us spread the word about our festival,” she said. “We’ll be playing a little of everything — from microfilms and music videos to full-length motion pictures and long- and short-form documentaries.”
The festival director said a special category for microfilms — snippets that run 15 seconds and under — has been established. These entries, she said, were shot in a variety of formats, including those shot on smartphones, Super 8 cameras and created on computers.
Camp and Taylor said that while having a big budget lends itself to producing slick, polished films, working on with limited funds don’t preclude a quality result.
“A lot of the films were shot on a shoestring budget,” she said. “Just because someone spent a lot of money on a film doesn’t mean it’s a great film. And a film shot with little money isn’t necessarily going to be a bad film.”
Technology advances in cinematography have created more of a level playing field for aspiring filmmakers. The advent of high-tech video produced by relatively inexpensive equipment has produced an explosion of creativity in the field, Taylor said. He said filmmakers are now able to create stunning film projects with consumer cameras that can be purchased off the shelf from just about any department store.
An example of that creativity is demonstrated in a film that will be shown at the festival called “The Sisterhood of Shred,” which follows a group of Seattle women “who are into mountain biking and do tricks. It’s really impressive and the shots are gorgeous,” Camp said.
Here are some of the film highlights Camp said festival-goers should look for over the weekend:
“Before Now,” by Migle Krizinauskaite-Bernotiene of Lithuania. The film follows the journey of a mother and her 4-year-old daughter to see “The Cosmos.” 11:30 a.m., Saturday, May 6.
“Angels of the Sky,” by Trent McGee and Josh Berman. The film details the true story of World War II pilots from the 8th Air Force who were shot down over German territory and became POWs — as told by the survivors. 1:30 p.m., Saturday, May 6.
“The Noise Made by People,” by Hel Gebreamlak and directed by Benjamin Nason. After experiencing a high-profile incident of police brutality, a woman — ignoring signs of her crumbling mental health — keeps holed up in her apartment until her cute, new neighbor invites her over to a raucous party that ends when the cops show up. Will this destroy her chances for a new start? 3:15 p.m., Sunday, May 7, during the Northwest Shorts block. This local film won the Audience Award for Best Short at the Seattle Local Sightings Film Festival.
“Once Upon A Dream,” by Anthony Nion from Belgium. When Valentin meets Ludivine, he is convinced she’s the girl he has been dreaming of over the past weeks — literally the girl of his dreams. 12:30 p.m., Sunday, May 7 as part of the Romantic/Love block.
“The Last Zombie” by Anthony Lecomte from France. In a world devastated by a zombie plague, a reality show based on zombie killing and survival in a hostile world has found huge success. The film follows the last candidates still alive on the hunt for the last zombie. 5 p.m., Saturday, May 6, during the Dark Comedy block.
Tickets will be sold for $8, which gives attendees access to a specific block of shows. One, two and three-day passes also will be sold. One-day passes for the Friday show are is $10. Saturday’s one-day pass is $20 and Sunday’s one-day pass is $15.
A stand-alone appearance in association with the film festival includes Alison Arngrim of TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” fame. She will perform her one-woman show. Tickets for that performance are extra. Also, noted area screenwriter and filmmaker Steve DeJarnatt will appear Saturday night at the festival.