Fresh Coast Film Festival returns

Patrons at the 2016 Fresh Coast Film Festival watch one of the many outdoor-related films shown at the event. This year's festival is set for Thursday through Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Peterson)

MARQUETTE — Adventure cinema again is coming to Marquette.

The Fresh Coast Film Festival runs Thursday through Sunday at various local venues in downtown Marquette. The documentary film festival celebrates the outdoor lifestyle, water-rich environment and hardy spirit of the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest.

One of the organizers of the event is photographer Aaron Peterson, who is spearheading the festival along with Bill Thompson, co-owner of Down Wind Sports, and local outdoors enthusiast and marketer Justin “Bugsy” Sailor.

Peterson said the focus is to create a world-class event.

“While it can’t be 100 percent dedicated to the Great Lakes region, we want to sort of inspire a higher level of outdoor filmmaking in the Great Lakes region,” Peterson said.

He acknowledged that type of filmmaking is seen more in the western United States and British Columbia.

So, the Fresh Coast Film Festival has a twofold purpose.

“We just want to put out a fun event for people to come and experience outdoor film, conservation film, but on the other hand, we’re trying to grow an art culture of future filmmakers,” Peterson said.

Also, the festival dates were set for mid-October to extend the local tourist season, he said.

The festival kicks off from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday with a food truck rally at the Marquette Commons, 112 S. Third St., followed by a screening of the films “Great Lakes, Great Stories”; “Whack Jobs”; and “Wild Bill’s Run” from 7 to 9 p.m.

Peterson said last year’s inaugural Fresh Coast Film Festival broke even financially, and even left the organizers with a little “jingle in their pockets.” That gave the organizers a head start for this year, which includes new sponsorships.

Films are varied in subject matter, but they all have outdoor themes.

Here is a sampling:

≤ A summary for “A Ghost In The Making: Searching for the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee” reads: “Everyone has heard about bee declines, but with so much attention focused on domesticated honeybees, someone has to speak up for the 4,000 species of native bees in North America.

“Natural history photographer Clay Bolt is on a multi-year quest to tell the stories of our native bees, and one elusive species — the rusty-patched bumble bee — has become his ‘white whale.'”

“Arctic” features an Inuit poem narrated over “frosty visual vibes and haunting electronic soundtrack samples” of traditional instruments.

“Blame Danny” is about the Marji Gesick 100, a challenging 100-mile bicycle race in the Upper Peninsula that begins at Harlow Lake in Marquette and goes uphill to downtown Ishpeming — 10,000 feet of elevation gain. According to the film’s write-up, it’s the brainchild of “twisted” co-organizers Danny Hill and Todd Poquette.

“Fishing Stannard Rock” depicts Keweenaw Charters Captain Travis White and crew venturing out to Stannard Rock, a lighthouse in the middle of Lake Superior that’s been called the “Loneliest Place in the World,” to pursue trophy lake trout. Viewers can learn about this species’ conservation practices.

One unique film to be shown at the festival is the 16-minute regional premiere of “Fix and Release,” which explores the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre whose staff helps turtles recover from catastrophic injuries.

“There’s no textbook on how to put a turtle back together,” Peterson said.

The movie gives some insight into helping these long-lived animals.

“The video shows them using like zip ties and Super Glue and, like, little drills and stuff,” Peterson said.

Some turtles are released into the wild while the eggs of other turtles are taken and then raised.

“You’re not going to see that on TV,” Peterson said.

Films range in length from the approximate minute-long “Bones of the Beast” about a mountain biker overlooking Duluth, Minnesota, to longer films like the 34-minute “Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest.”

“There are some heavy-hitting films that you’re only going to see on the festival circuit right now,” Peterson said.

The festival is divided into two-hour-long film blocks that run simultaneously at various venues in downtown Marquette. These blocks could be a group of themed short films, or a single feature that takes up the whole block. Each block will have an emcee and most likely a few attending filmmakers who will present their films, take questions and provide information about themselves and their projects.

Obviously, people won’t be able to see all the films at Fresh Coast.

Peterson’s recommendation? “We have a lot of content, and there just isn’t enough time to do it, so you sort of have to be active,” he said.

What would an outdoor film festival be without actually getting outdoors? Tours are planned throughout the event, including rock climbing on Cliffs Ridge, a waterfall tour and a mountain bike tour with pro mountain biker Aaron Chase on the Noquemanon Trail Network’s South Trails.

Tours are free this year, Peterson said, through a partnership with Northern Michigan University’s Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management program.

“Part of Fresh Coast’s mission is to grow the travel economy, but also get people actually connected to our landscape so they’re not just passing through for fudge and a T-shirt,” Peterson said.

Social media types are invited to share their views of the Fresh Coast Film Festival, run entirely by volunteers, by posting photos and stories on Twitter with the hashtag #FreshCoasting.

Prices are $150 for a patron pass, $70 for a weekend pass, $35 for a day pass, $25 for a student weekend pass and $5 for a Saturday family concert by the Okee Dokee Brothers, with admission included for patron, weekend and day pass holders.

Peterson said patrons also can attend two-hour sessions for $10 at the door.

For more information, see a full schedule of events or purchase tickets, visit

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is