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Female directors to be celebrated at Pickford Film Center, campus

Directors participating in CASCADIA's panel discussion at Western Washington University in Oct. 2015, share their views with the audience members. This year's panel, about new technologies in film and video such as virtual reality, will take place at noon in Room 110 of the Communications Facility. // Photo courtesy of Cheryl Crooks
Directors participating in CASCADIA’s panel discussion at Western Washington University in Oct. 2015, share their views with the audience members. This year’s panel, about new technologies in film and video such as virtual reality, will take place at noon in Room 110 of the Communications Facility. // Photo courtesy of Cheryl Crooks

By Natalie Breymeyer

 

Female directors are a rare occurrence in the film industry, and the CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival is trying to change that.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Pickford Film Center downtown, CASCADIA will be hosting two documentaries directed by women. In addition, a panel of filmmakers will be held at Western.

The Pickford has been showing documentaries every day of October for their month-long event, Doctober, and the films this Saturday will wrap up the celebration.

“Sweet Crude,” a documentary directed by Sandy Cioffi will play at 4 p.m. The film is about the oil industry’s destruction to the environment in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.

Sweet Crude won the Seattle International Film Festival of 2009 and has gained international recognition at other film festivals as well.

Following “Sweet Crude” is “Drawing the Tiger,” directed by Amy Benson and her husband Scott Squire at 6:30 p.m. The documentary focuses on a Nepali family and their struggle with poverty.

Admission prices are available at pickfordfilmcenter.org.

The directors of both films will be available after their viewings to discuss their struggles making the documentaries and to take questions from the audience.

CASCADIA, a nonprofit organization, does not just showcase documentaries, Executive Director Cheryl Crooks said.

“They just have to be exceptional films directed by women,” Crooks said.

“We’re just trying to make people aware women make great films.”

CASCADIA Executive Director Cheryl Crooks

CASCADIA came about after previously working with The Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, which is also a female-director exclusive organization.

Originally, the founders of CASCADIA wanted to expand the festival to another location, since many of their film submissions were from the West Coast.

“We did this last year with the Female Eye,” Crooks said. “We did a panel at Western, showed a bunch of films and had a party, of course.”

When coordinating between the U.S. and Canada became difficult, CASCADIA was created as its own entity in Bellingham.

In addition to the documentaries at the Pickford, a panel is being held in Communications Facility Room 110 where filmmakers will discuss virtual reality and other new technologies in relation to the film industry.

The panel starts at noon and is free to the public. Following the panel, a hands-on workshop will be held where participants will get a direct look at virtual reality software.

CASCADIA has another event coming up in April. Crooks hopes to eventually showcase films on Western’s campus through CASCADIA.

“One of our goals is to involve the young filmmakers locally,” Crooks said. “But also to get the students on campus involved.”

The film festival and panel is a promising place for students looking to get their foot in the door of the film industry, Crooks said.

“You have access to people,” Crooks said. “You can walk up, you can meet them and you can talk to them. It’s a huge opportunity.”

Crooks does not know how big CASCADIA will grow in the coming years, but she wants to keep it local to Bellingham.

“We’re just trying to make people aware women make great films,” Crooks said.

To reserve a spot in the virtual reality workshop this Saturday in CF 110, email Mary Erickson at Mary.Erickson@wwu.edu.

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