The Babich netshed was decked out Sunday with carpets, window treatments, film décor and the “reel” stars of the sixth annual Gig Harbor Film Festival — the filmmakers, residents and volunteers who gathered for the “It’s a Wrap” awards ceremony.
DreamQuest Productions Producer Allen Smith and Cameraman Steve Essig, film partners for more than 20 years, were award hopefuls after they entered a feature-length documentary about Duchenne’s disease, “Dusty’s Trail.”
Duchenne, a form of muscular dystrophy, affects 1 in 3,500 young men with a life expectancy of 20.
“It was an emotional story to tell,” Smith said. “We hurried to make film, as Dusty was already 20 and not expected to live much longer. The Duchenne community came out to support film here in Gig Harbor.”
On the discussion panel that followed the screening, both men were pleased with the attendance and the venue that helped them get the word out about the rare disease.
Although “Dusty’s Trail” didn’t earn top billing, the partners already are working on “Eight Summit” about climbing Mt. Everest, which the men hope to have selected for next year’s festival.
“Honor Flight,” a feature-length documentary, received the first-place award in the category. The film tells the story of a race against time to get WWII veterans to the memorial in Washington, D.C., before they die.
One of the honor flights recently was in the news as the memorial was part of the federal government’s partial shutdown.
Meanwhile, “Cement Suitcase,” a feature-length comedy, earned Director’s Choice.
“This is a slice-of-life film about how people can get into a rut and be unwilling to change, and the path to let go of baggage instead of holding on,” Director, J. Rick Castaneda said.
As Castaneda grew up in eastern Washington, he choose to film in Granger and the Airfield winery. The film, which has won numerous audience awards at other festivals, will be on iTunes and Netflix later this year, and there will be other options for distribution.
“It’s such a huge reward having the film shown in a big theater, Castaneda said. “As a comedy, when you hear laughter, you know people like the film.”
Heidi Speidel, an extra in the film, attends most of the film festivals and helps to promote “Cement Suitcase.”
“It’s a funny, quirky, heartfelt movie,” she said. “Everyone that sees it takes something different away.”
Speidel said she was impressed with Castaneda and the cast and crew.
“Everyone is respectful and kind,” she said. “That’s not always the case in the movie business. I also love that’s it’s a movie that promotes eastern Washington.”
Volunteers and filmmakers echoed the sentiment how important an event like the Gig Harbor Film Festival is to support independent filmmakers, like Castaneda and for raising awareness about issues that otherwise may not have an opportunity to be widely seen.
“The Gig Harbor Film Festival is a first-class act,” Speidel said. “It’s one of the most elegant I have been to. Everyone was impressed.”
Lifestyles Coordinator Kim Eibel can be reached at 253-358-4152 or by email at email@example.com.