Orcas Island Film Festival

A world of award-winning motion pictures in one of the most picturesque places in the world!

The fall film festival season is in full swing and the Orcas Island Film Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary, Oct. 4-8, 2018 with our biggest and most star-studded edition yet. OIFF film curator Carl Spence has been busy scouting the hottest new films and he’s come up with another powerful line-up that film buffs have come to expect from him.  The festival takes place over five days and two venues with an impressive lineup of 34 brand new international films representing 18 countries. Twenty-nine of these films are making their Northwest Debut (directly from Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, NYFF, Sundance) and nine are films by women filmmakers.

Films at the Orcas Island Film Festival are, "the crème de la crème of the first-tier festival circuit," says Charles Mudede, Film/Art critic from The Stranger.  Past films have garnered a total of 34 nominations and 8 Oscars including Oscar winners; Darkest Hour, Faces Places, The Square, Manchester By The Sea, The Salesman, Room, The Imitation Game and Son of Saul along with critically acclaimed films such as Loving, Florida Project, Faces Places and more.  Attendees will see these films before their official theatrical release and the festival provides a unique opportunity for filmmakers and film lovers to connect and share the cinematic experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

“For our 5th Anniversary, we have put together a star-studded line-up of acclaimed films from 18 countries,” said Festival Curator Carl Spence. Actors slated to appear on our state-of-the-art cinema screens at the The Sea View Theatre and Orcas Center include Blythe Danner, Carey Mulligan, Guillaume Canet, Hilary Swank, Irrfan Khan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Javier Bardem, Jay Duplass, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Julia Roberts, Juliette Binoche, Kelly Macdonald, Lucas Hedges, Mary Kay Place, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Shannon, Montgomery Clift, Penelope Cruz, Ricardo Darin, and Rupert Graves.

We are thrilled to be presenting the Festival’s inaugural Vanguard Award to the film Yomeddine, which had its recent world premiere at the first ever Egyptian film in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and was just selected as the official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film from Egypt for the 2019 Academy Awards. “The Vanguard Award was created to honor a creative work that exhibits mastery and excellence with a story that illuminates the power of the human spirit,” says OIFF Co-Founder Jared Lovejoy. Producer Dina Emam, from Cairo, Egypt will attend the festival and accept the award along with a $5,000 cash prize generously underwritten by Orcasong Farm.

Highly anticipated films include Ben is Back from the multi-hyphenate author, screenwriter, and director Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Pieces of April) directing the dynamite return of Julia Roberts, and his son Lucas Hedges who is one of the brightest, most diverse and indeed best actors of his generation. Jake Gyllenhaal appears in two films: The Sisters Brothers; the western comedy and English language debut of award-winning director Jacques Audiard (Dheepan) and actor Paul Dano’s stunning directorial debut Wildlife.

Cuba will be represented for the first time at the festival with Sergio and Sergei: a delightful comedic reflection on how big events can impact ordinary lives an amateur radio operator in Cuba makes unexpected contact with stranded Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Other comedic films include the British hit, Swimming with Men, a beautifully bittersweet British comedy packed with delightful performances – hailed as ‘The Full Monty in speedos.’ We have continued the tradition of featuring top award winners from the world’s best festivals including the Palme d'Or winning film at the Cannes Film Festival; Shoplifters from Japanese master filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda.

Women are at the forefront of many of the films in the festival in front of and behind the camera including Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy As Lazzaro, a film about a man who travels through time. The film boasts a number of women in its creative roles: it’s edited by Nelly Quettier, designed by Emita Frigato and its cinematographer is Hélène Louvart.  Other outstanding films by women directors include Eve (Susan Bay Nimoy), Sadie (Megan Griffiths), What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko), Free Solo (E. Chai Vasarhelyi), Breath Normally (Ísold Uggadóttir), Capernaum (Nadine Labaki), Making Montgomery Clift (Hillary Demmon), and Birds of Passage (Cristina Gallego). “I am proud to say that OIFF has joined the many film festivals from around the world in a movement to support gender equality in their programming,” says OIFF co-director Donna Laslo.

Many of the international films being presented have also been selected as their countries top film of the year and likely to be their pick to be submitted to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film including: El Angel (Argentina), Birds of Passage (Colombia), Yomeddine (Egypt), Non-Fiction (France), Sorry Angel (France), Woman at War (Iceland), Breathe Normally (Iceland), Dogman (Italy), Happy as Lazzaro (Italy), Shoplifters (Japan), Capernaum (Lebanon), Cold War (Poland), Dovlatov (Russia), Everybody Knows (Spain), Border (Sweden).  Independent American films are also well-represented including Marc Turtletaub’s quiet masterpiece, Puzzle, and Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths, Sadie.

Documentary Films are top-notch with the unbelievably tense and thrilling Free Solo chronicling the life-long dream of climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve what has never before been attempted: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock ... the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ... without a rope. It’s a nail-biter despite the fact that you can google what happened! Other docs include Saving Brinton, Making Montgomery Clift, Chef Flynn, and Matangi /Maya / M.I.A.

Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director Jean-Marc Vallee (Sharp Objects, Big Little Lies, Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, Demolition) will return to present a not-to-be-missed behind the scenes Masterclass demonstrating his creative process and editing techniques using his most recent work HBO’s Sharp Objects.  Amazing opportunity for film lovers and future filmmakers alike!

There are a number of Directors/Filmmakers being hosted at the festival this year.  Opening night will have directors in attendance for both films - Elizabeth Chomko with What They Had and Cameron Yates with Chef Flynn. Special guest and amazing documentary film subject Michael Zahs will be making the trek to Orcas from Iowa along with filmmaker John Richard to present Saving Brinton. In a farmhouse basement in the Iowa countryside, Michael Zahs made the remarkable discovery of old film reels that belonged to America’s greatest barnstorming movie-man including a long lost film from Georges Méliés, undertaking a journey to save these irreplaceable cinematic treasures from turning to dust.

The Random Howse will be the Festival Hub this year where the Opening Night Red Carpet Soiree and late night parties will take place. Late Night Parties feature DJ’s Bruce Pavitt, Jean-Marc Vallée and Darek Mazzone of KEXP Wo’ Pop.   

James Beard award-winning chef Christina Orchid will host a pop-up restaurant inside the HUB called the CRAB SHACK featuring locally sourced meals.  The menu includes New Orleans style Po boys, halibut or vegan fish & chips, beef, salmon, lamb, and vegan burgers and fries. Top it all off with a handmade milkshake from Lopez ice creams. The Barnacle will provide the bar with their fabulous selection of scratch cocktails, local beers, and Doe Bay Wine Company wines.

For those who are interested in a cutting-edge film experience, you can visit the Festival HUB and try out a virtual reality/VR, augmented reality/AR and 360°immersion film experience curated by Wondertek and sponsored by Rock Island Communications.

The Orcas Island Film Festival is made possible each year by the generosity of many individual donors, businesses, grants and over 75 committed volunteers.  It simply wouldn’t exist without help. If you’d like to support the Orcas Island Film Festival there are a number of ways you can help.  Contact us for more information. One of the easiest ways to support us and upgrade your festival experience is to buy Festival passes.  The full festival line-up, trailers, passes, and tickets are now available at orcasfilmfest.com.