Lights out. Popcorn in hand. It's time for the Tahoe community to have some serious excitement at the fourth annual Tahoe Film Fest Dec. 6-9.
With 28 films and two shorts, the anticipation of squeezing in as many as possible will rev up movie lovers from all around the Lake and beyond.
Festival Director Robert Roussel has always been a big advocate of environmental films.
"There were very few films until we premiered 'An Inconvenient Truth' in 2006," he said. "After that, a flood gate of environmental films and shorts opened."
Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, the festival's beneficiary, is a Tahoe-Truckee-based nonprofit that educates students by collaborating with local teachers, school districts, and community partners to address watershed education, environmental issues and service learning projects.
Managing Director Suzanne Wilkins who started the Film Fest when it was called "Water the Essential" says Roussel's involvement during the first festival created the current format and name change.
"Robert has been instrumental in the growth and popularity of Tahoe Film Fest," she said. "We could not get the caliber of films and VIPs to come to Tahoe without him leading the team."
"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," a new film written, produced, and directed by brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, is a series of six entertaining Old West vignettes with phenomenal surprise endings. Roussel says Ethan Coen will receive the first Tahoe Film Fest Cinematic Achievement Award.
Filmmakers will also be present for "Momentum Generation," "Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable," "Wild Daze," and "This Changes Everything." Audiences will have the chance to meet and talk to them after the film.
Roussel says this year's "The Biggest Little Farm," filmed over an eight-year period of struggles and accomplishments by the founders of Apricot Lane Farms, is a heartfelt, incredible story.
In addition to environmental films, viewers will experience independent films, Latino films, and documentaries including Tahoe local Grant Korgan's inspiring, award-winning "The Push." Korgan's moving account of his "push" as the first spinal cord injured athlete who travels nearly 100 miles to the geographic South Pole presents the unparalleled challenges he and his guides endured.
Korgan says the film "isn't about Grant Korgan going to the South Pole. It's about all of us. Every single one of us makes choices about how we move through our struggles. It's a universally applicable film."
Tahoe Film Fest will honor Korgan with a Humanitarian Award. Producer and Expedition Guide Tal Fletcher Jr. said, "After sharing this project around the world on film festival tour this year, we are proud to finally be able to bring it to our hometown friends and family. We are grateful to Tahoe Film Fest for including us in such an amazing lineup of films."
The Push opens the festival in Incline. The same evening "The Biggest Little Farm" shows in Truckee. Ah, the choices we have to make.
We can thank our lucky stars and director Roussel's connections that Venice Film Festival Winner, "Roma," directed by academy award-winner Alfonso Cuaron will show at the Incline Village Cinema. According to Roussel, Cuaron is very picky about where they screen the film. "The LA Film Festival didn't get it and I'm glad we did," he says. He adds Netflix will send a technician to the theater for Friday's screening.
Films will be primarily shown at three cinemas — Incline Village Cinema, Village Cinemas at Northstar, and the downtown Truckee Community Arts Center.
As part of The Sting's 40th Anniversary Celebration, an aprés film documentary interviews actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and screenwriter David S. Ward who reflect on the making of the film. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" celebrates its 50th Anniversary with an on location making of the film documentary immediately following the screening. The film's two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman passed away a few weeks ago, in mid-November. Both award-winning classic films were directed by George Roy Hill, and will be shown at the Truckee High School Theater.
The festival's final film on Sunday, "Stay Human" directed by Michael Franti will screen at the Crystal Bay Club Casino. Through Franti's stories and songs, this documentary shines a light on people all around the world who embrace hope amidst overwhelming challenges. "Studio 54" will screen on Friday in the same location.
For film schedules and ticket purchases, visit http://www.tahoefilmfest.org. For more detailed film descriptions, click the Home tab on the festival website.