13th Annual Nevada City Film Festival is September 5-8

By Jesse Locks
Nevada City Film Festival

From September 5th through 8th, enjoy cream-of-the-festival-crop shorts, hand-picked feature films, special guests and live comedy at the 13th Annual Nevada City Film Festival (NCFF), in historic downtown Nevada City.

Each year, NCFF scours programming from major film festivals, collaborates with film schools around the world, stalks film bloggers and critics, and watches the hundreds of films submitted, to narrow it all down to the very best in independent film. From feature-length documentaries that have been winning awards left and right to stop-motion animations that will have their world premiere at the festival, NCFF will bring in the buzzed-about festival winners, as well as some of independent cinema’s best-kept secrets.

“Many of cinema’s greatest directors, from Charlie Chaplin to Jane Campion to Wes Anderson, have launched their careers by making short films. But making a compelling, fully realized movie with a running time of only a few minutes can be challenging for any filmmaker. That’s why the Nevada City Film Festival is proud of its growing reputation for consistently presenting some of the best short films programs in the festival circuit,” says Jeffrey Clark, NCFF Executive Director.

This year, NCFF’s shorts programs include everything from beautifully surreal stop-motion animation to uncompromising political documentaries. “Oh Willy…” (17 minutes, directed by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels, Animation Shorts), a drama acted out by needle-felted naturists, has won twenty awards to date. It is visually striking, immersing the viewer in a dreamlike universe of fuzzy bodies and soft light. If you’re more interested in the problems of our world than immersing yourself in another, “This Is Normal” (22 minutes, directed by Derek Watson, Documentary Shorts) is about water contamination in developing countries, and addresses the global water crisis (as well as possible solutions). Irish Folk Furniture (9 minutes, directed by Tony Donoghue, Animation Shorts) is somewhere in the middle, an animated documentary that brings a little stop-motion magic to the world of furniture restoration.

In addition to the short film programs, NCFF will open the festival with “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” on Thursday, September 5th. (Fans of the film and its legendary Ennio Morricone score will be thrilled to hear the soundtrack on the Miners Foundry’s excellent Red Hot Chili Peppers approved sound system). Other feature films include “William and the Windmill” (dir. Ben Nabors), an inspiring feature-length documentary about a man in Malawi who makes a windmill out of scrap metal to save his family and village, and “Filmage: The Story of the Descendents/ALL” (dir. Deedle Lacour and Matt Riggle), which chronicles the rise of everyone’s favorite nerdy punk rockers.

But there’s more to NCFF than just its film selection: this is a festival with heart, firmly rooted in the Nevada County community and fueled by a genuine passion for all things cinematic. Festival Director Jesse Locks emphasizes the importance of our visiting filmmakers, comedians and musicians:

“You can always see a movie, but to meet the people behind the film and hear their stories is what makes a festival truly magical. In the era of blockbusters and sellouts, NCFF creates a unique experience for both filmmakers and festival-goers. Unlike so many festivals I’ve attended, there are no barriers between the audience and the artists at NCFF; interaction with the filmmakers goes beyond formal Q&A’s. Attendees can visit with filmmakers at after parties, run into them at a coffee shop, sit with them at screenings. The filmmakers love our supportive, culturally savvy audiences as much as our audiences love their films.”

In previous years, NCFF has hosted notable filmmakers such as Mike Mills (The Beginners), Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia), James M. Johnston (Pioneer, Ain’t Them Bodies) and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. One of those visiting filmmakers you might bump elbows with at an afterparty or strolling down Broad Street is Galen Pehrson, Nevada City native and brother of Tahiti Pehrson, one of NCFF’s featured artists in 2012. Galen has made animated videos for Death Grips and Talib Kweli, and his work was featured at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art in a show curated by James Franco. He will be screening some of his work at the Director’s Spotlight on Saturday evening at the Haven.

Greg Finton, co-director of the documentary “The World According to Dick Cheney” will also be one of NCFF’s many visiting filmmakers. The film premiered this winter at Sundance and has gone on to critical acclaim. It’s a revealing profile of Dick Cheney, one of the world’s most controversial and powerful political figures. Award-winning documentary filmmakers R.J. Cutler and Finton gives us a surprisingly personal look into the life of the former Vice President from his early days in Washington to his time in the White House with President George W. Bush. Prior to the film, Finton will also screen the short film “A Mother’s Promise” about President Barack Obama which was shown at the 2008 Democratic Convention. And if that wasn’t enough, Finton will show “Making Dazed” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Dazed and Confused” starring Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg.

Eric Wareheim, actor, comedian, writer and director, returns for his third visit to NCFF. He is one half of the comedy troupe Tim and Eric. Wareheim, along with Tim Heidecker, created the television shows Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule (starring John C. Reilly). This time he’s bringing a bag of comedy shorts and bedtime stories.

Also returning is the always funny, always fun, NCFF Live Comedy show. Now in its fifth year, the comedy show spans two nights and features Nick Rutherford (Good Neighbor), Moshe Kasher (John Oliver’s New York Stand Up, Whitney, Chelsea Lately), and Brett Gelman (Adult Swim, Curb Your Enthusiasm, NBC’s Go On) on Friday, September 6.

And on Saturday September 7th, laugh at and along with, Kyle Kinane (Conan, Comedy Central, Live at Gotham), Jon C. Daly (Funny or Die, Comedy Bang Bang, Kroll Show), and Natasha Leggero (Jay Leno, Reno 911, Burning Love, Last Comic Standing). Both nights are hosted by DJ Douggpound (Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!).

NCFF wraps festivities with an outdoor “Best of the Fest” screening at Ol’ Republic Brewery on Sunday, September 8th from 4 to 9pm, where the winners of this year’s festival will be screened along with the NCFF Audience Choice Award Winner. Grab a pie or a taco from the food trucks and pint of something locally-brewed, and enjoy the crème de la crème of independent film.

What: 13th Annual Nevada City Film Festival
When: Thursday – Sunday, September 5-8, 2013
Where: Downtown Historic Nevada City
Tickets: $9/$7 Individual film tickets, $15/$13 Comedy, $99/$89 for Festival Passes, available online at www.nevadacityfilmfestival.com or In Person: August 19 – September 5 at BriarPatch Co-op, 290 Sierra College, Grass Valley, CA or NCFF Offices, 240 Commercial Street, Suite B, Nevada City, CA. September 5-7 at NCFF Headquarters at Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959.
Information: www.nevadacityfilmfestival.com

(photos: Nevada City Film Festival)

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