Cinematic journeys captured on film
Fresh Coast Film Festival set for Oct. 14-17
MARQUETTE — It’s time to go “Fresh Coasting” again.
The Fifth Annual Fresh Coast Film Festival, a documentary film festival celebrating the outdoor lifestyle and spirit of the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest, is scheduled Oct. 14-17 in Marquette.
Over a hundred new films are on the schedule for this year’s festival — presented by Make It Marquette — ranging from a few minutes to feature length at five film venues.
Aaron Peterson, a FCFF founder along with Justin “Bugsy” Sailor of the Upper Peninsula Supply Company and Bill Thompson of Down Wind Sports, talked about the festival in a video created by Kristin Ojaniemi, whose “Eight Days on Isle Royale” and “Stewards of All Creation” will be shown at the festival.
Adventure, conservation and inspiration are the driving themes behind the event, Peterson said.
“Most of our films are documentary,” he said. “A lot of them have to do with the outdoors or inspirational stories generally related to the outdoors. Some are funny, some are weird, some are crazy and adventurous.”
When the festival began, one of the goals was to grow the community of outdoor filmmakers in the Great Lakes region and elevate the stories that aren’t always told, Peterson said.
“We’re seeing about 50 percent of our content coming from the region, and then the other 50 percent we flesh out with sort of the best of this genre of film from all the other festivals around the world,” Peterson said. “To see the quantity and the quality of the films from the region has been really impressive and inspiring for me.”
This year’s film line-up focuses on topics such as Midwest lake surfing, Kentucky ice climbing and Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative.
Elisabeth James, a “filmmaker in attendance,” is director of “Overland,” a 105-minute film about the adventures of an eagle hunter, a “hawk whisperer” and a falcon racer.
The 90-minute “Iron Family” explores a family’s performance of original stage plays in Iron River created by one of its members, Jazmine Faries, a 32-year-old woman with Down syndrome.
“Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue,” at 75 minutes in length, works in two “heart-wrenching” cases in helping families search for their missing loved ones.
Shorter films include “Cities to Craigs: Upper Peninsula,” which in 3 minutes showcases the climbing culture in the region, and “Crime Pays But Botany Doesn’t: A Sampler Platter,” a 20-minute movie with what festival organizers call “a low-brow, crass approach” to plant ecology and evolution as “muttered by misanthropic Chicago Italian” Joey Santore.
Another filmmaker in attendance, Finn Ryan, directed the 11-minute “Saving Buffalo Reef” about efforts to save the natural cobble feature located just off the eastern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior. Buffalo Reef is threatened by migrating stamp sands produced by mining activities beginning in the late 1800s.
The festival, though, isn’t just about movies. An important component of the event will be guided outdoor activities to introduce visitors to the outdoor recreation opportunities of the Marquette area. Rock climbing, yoga, waterfall hikes and mountain bike rides, for example, will be offered as part of the Fresh Coast weekend.
A hike up Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette Township is planned for 8 a.m. Oct. 15, plus an interpretive hike on Presque Isle is set for 9 a.m. that day.
Oct. 16 events will include a Dead River Falls waterfall hike at 8 a.m., a Marquette History Tour at 9 a.m. and rock climbing at Sunset Gully — a crag cliff near Sugarloaf Mountain — at 9 a.m.
Visitors may tour the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve in Harvey at 9 a.m. Oct. 17. Also scheduled for that day is a Marquette Harbor Tour at 9 a.m.
Sailor said the film venues are all “walkable” from downtown Marquette, but the first day, Oct. 14, will be different from previous years, although it is hoped food trucks will be part of the opener again.
“One change this year is that we will be hosting opening night at Lower Harbor instead of the Marquette Commons this year,” he said. “It allows us to have more space to spread out.”
A patron pass is $150, while a weekend pass is $70. Day and student weekend passes are $35 and $25, respectively.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers ask that attendees, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks at all indoor and enclosed tent venues. Each venue will be designed to allow individuals the ability to social distance. Thanks to one of the event sponsors, Joshua Tree, hand sanitizer will be available at all venues.
“We’ve got a whole crew that’s involved now, so we’ve got a growing board and a dedicated team of volunteers and coordinators,” Sailor said.
The purpose of the event, he said, is to highlight Great Lakes storytelling and celebrating the outdoors — and encourage up-and-coming filmmakers in the Midwest.
“It’s not meant to be an Upper Peninsula film festival, but really Great Lakes as the whole,” he said.
For more information about the event and to order tickets, visit www.freshcoastfilm.com.