Fresh Coast Film Festival returns

The Fresh Coast Film Festival is coming to Marquette Thursday through Sunday at a variety of venues, including The Delft Bistro. Film covers a variety of topics in the Great Lakes region and beyond. (Photo courtesy of the Fresh Coast Film Festival)

MARQUETTE — Locally, it might be taking on the stature of the renowned Cannes Film Festival.

The Fresh Coast Film Festival, now in its third year, is set to come to Marquette Thursday through Sunday at various venues.

“We’ve got a great lineup, really a good balance of local and regional work, alongside national and international films and people attending,” festival Director Aaron Peterson said.

The festival is a volunteer-driven event, with what he called “outstanding leadership” on all levels.

“That’s been really exciting to see from an organizational standpoint,” Peterson said.

Lilliana Libecki, who has traveled to many countries on adventures with her dad, Mike, is a featured subject at this year’s Fresh Coast Film Festival. The event is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the Fresh Coast Film Festival)

However, he stressed that one of the goals with Fresh Coast was to grow and “activate” a community of filmmakers in the region by using new technology that has made the process easier and more affordable, and in turn giving those filmmakers a place to present their stories.

The tales told among the over 130 Fresh Coast films range from free-diving with orcas in Norwegian waters and understanding rip currents in the Great Lakes, to Upper Peninsula artist Nita Engle and the Women Ice Angler Project.

“Straight U.P.” examines the life of tree-climbing professionals in Marquette while “Crosstown” is set against the backdrop of Chicago in 2016 as the Cubs returned to the World Series, which it won.

The Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, based in Harvey, announced it will debut at the Fresh Coast Film Festival this year. Two of the films UPLC made in conjunction with the organization Heart of the Lakes about the proposed Dead River Community Forest will be featured, each to be shown twice.

Viewers can watch 14-year-old Alyssa LeTorneau explore the Dead River near the “Bridges” portion of the proposed community forest and listen to her describe her roots in nature and the importance of protecting natural spaces for the community’s future.

Festival headquarters will be at The Delft Bistro while outdoor tours are headquartered at Down Wind Sports. Film venues include The Delft Bistro, Blackrocks Brewery, the Graveraet Cafe, Kaufman Auditorium, the Marquette Commons, Masonic Buildings 1 and 2, and the Ore Dock Brewing Co.

“Our driving themes are adventure, conservation and inspiration, and under those three umbrellas there’s usually something that will appeal to you,” Peterson said. “Sometimes all three will connect at the same time.”

If attendees come with an open mind, they might discover the festival is what Peterson called “a mixed tape.”

“The whole festival is like an album or a film itself — take a lot of short films and program them into film blocks,” Peterson said.

And within those blocks, filmgoers can be exposed to new and unfamiliar topics.

“You walk away going, ‘Huh, I didn’t know that,'” Peterson said.

Another aspect of the Fresh Coast Film Festival is the sense of community.

“Humans are hardwired to be together in a dark space with a glowing something, whether that’s a campfire in the cave originally or in some type of shelter, or in modern times, a glowing screen,” Peterson said.

It’s when watching a film that they can play off each other’s reactions, he said.

However, it’s not just about cinema during the film festival. There will be guided outdoor activities to introduce visitors to the scenery-rich Marquette region.

Scheduled activities include an early morning yoga class, a hike at the Echo Lake Nature Preserve, a bicycle tour on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, a tour of Marquette Harbor on a 32-foot Cornish pilot gig and rock climbing on Cliffs Ridge on the back side of the Marquette Mountain ski hill.

Northern Michigan University students in the Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management Program lead the tours as part of their college courses, said Peterson, who pointed out Marquette can be intimidating for people out of the area.

“These kids are getting hands-on experiences designing and leading tours,” he said.

The Fresh Coast Film Festival will begin a free Thursday night kickoff based at the Commons. Peterson said the kickoff will begin around 5 p.m. and include an adventure mobile rally with retro campers, a food truck rally, films and two tents featuring Double Trouble DJs. There also will be a pop-up art show, “Culture of Cult,” featuring offbeat pieces like skateboard art at the Ore Dock Brewing Co.

Peterson has high hopes for future Fresh Coast festivals, saying the event is “going to be in Marquette culture for a long time.”

For more information, such as short descriptions of the films, their times and venues, as well as to get tickets, visit

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.