Vashon Island Film Festival Debuts With Big Filmmaker Turnout Image

On Saturday, August 13, the second shorts block started at 10 a.m. to be followed by the documentary Tiger 24: The Making of a Man-Eater, the comedy I Love My Dad, and the dramatic Civil War film Freedom’s Path, which led to the first VIFF soiree with a DJ and pop duo to end the evening.

“I had no idea what was going to happen with this documentary,” says Tiger 24: The Making of a Man-Eater director Warren Pereira. “Back in 2012, I started filming. But, I had to have faith in this project and that it was a journey.”

On Sunday, August 14, the day began with the comedy Wes Schlagenhauf is Dead, the satirical film Traveling Light, and ended with the drama Good Girl Jane.

“I wrote this story from my personal experience,” says Good Girl Jane director Sarah Elizabeth Mintz. “I wanted it to feel as immersive as possible, and I shot a proof-of-concept short film with the actors to try out a long shot form, and it worked.”

Following the last film was the first VIFF Red Bicycle Awards, which are named in honor of the island’s fake legend about a local boy, circa 1914, who abandoned his beloved red bicycle in a tree before enlisting in the army to fight in World War I, where it was consumed by nature. The real history of this attraction is former islander Don Puz was gifted the bicycle after his family’s home had been lost to a fire. Still, the thick tires and thin handlebars made it challenging to ride. So Don left the bicycle in the forest after a day of play, where it has remained to this day and has become synonymous with Vashon Island and now will represent Vashon Island Film Festival winners.

VIFF presented plenty of film awards from festival jurors, which included LaTriece Arthur, Production Manager of Open Space for Arts & Community on Vashon Island, Prince Lorenzo Medici of Italy, scion of the legendary arts patrons The House of Medici, filmmaker Anthony O’Brien (director of The Timber), Actress Stacey Oristano (Friday Night Lights, Bunheads, and Jigsaw), and Janet Felicity Welt, Event Manager of the Night Light Drive-In on Vashon Island.

Juniper cast and director at VIFF

Awards also included the Quartermaster Award for Excellence in Feature Filmmaking, which was given to James Morosini’s I Love My Dad. The Burton Award for Excellence in Short Filmmaking went to Ukrainian Mathieu Grimard’s Goodbye Golvin. The award for Best Screenplay went to James Morosini for I Love My Dad.

Nick Richey took home the Best Director Award for 1-800-HOT-NITE. Warren Pereira, director of Tiger 24: The Making of a Man-Eater, won Best Cinematography and Best Editing for his documentary. The Best Actor Award went to Patton Oswalt for I Love My Dad. Stephen Dorff won the Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance in writer/director Bernard Rose’s Traveling Light. The Best Original Music Award went to Layne for the score for Katherine Dudas’ Juniper.

Freedom’s Path won several awards, including Mitchell Crisp for Best Production Design Award, Jane Anderson for Best Costume Design Award for the period, and the Audience Award for Best Feature. In addition, Brett Smith’s Never Land won the Audience Award for Best Short.

Several cast and crew members attended their VIFF screenings, including Juniper, 1-800-HOT-NITE, Freedom’s Path, Tiger 24: The Making of a Man-Eater, Wes Schlagenhauf is Dead, and Good Girl Jane. In addition, an engaged audience asked pointed questions at each screening to fully understand the film’s intentions and process for everyone involved.

“It was a commitment from everyone involved in the film that helped make it happen,” says Freedom’s Path director Brett Smith. “It was the buy-in from everyone that helped elevate everyone else. We all felt responsible for telling the story and giving everything to it.”

VIFF’s board of directors includes three individuals with island roots: Maura Little, Isaac Mann, and Peter Serko, and there are plans to have the Vashon Island Film Festival and Vashon Scholars in a multi-week summer film intensive education program for youth on the island starting in 2023. So with this motivation, excitement, and programming behind its launch and plans for the next VIFF, stay tuned for the Vashon Island Film Festival in 2023. VIFF may be the film fest you have always sought to attend, but it never existed until now.

To learn more, visit vashonislandfilmfestival.com.

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