Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo for The Western Front

CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival brings women-directed films to the main stage

Eighth annual film festival highlights diverse perspectives and voices through films and conversation

Guests of the CASCADIA International Film Festival talk outside of the theater on May 7, 2023, in Bellingham, Wash. CASCADIA's films are screened at the Pickford Film Center. // Photo by Leah Stark

On Thursday, April 25, the eighth annual CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival will be kicking off. The festival, which takes place until April 28, is a showcase of women-directed films as well as a variety of film-related events and activities.

Since 2017, the festival has provided the Bellingham community with a place to engage in conversations and view films directed by women in the U.S. and internationally.

This year, the festival will present 27 films from 10 countries.

In addition to the film viewings, there will also be two panels, a script workshop and an honored guest event featuring “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke.

Cheryl Crooks, executive director of CASCADIA, said that CASCADIA offers many opportunities for Western students to get involved. Students can purchase film tickets for $10, half of the normal cost, by presenting their student ID at the ticket booth. The festival has also provided specific film-related courses at Western with student tickets. 

Greg Youmans, a professor of film studies at Western Washington University, said CASCADIA is important for many reasons, one being that the festival brings established directors and major films to Bellingham.

“It is hard in a town like this to have directors often travel with their films,” Youmans said. “Festivals do that in a way that monthly programming often doesn’t.”

Having Catherine Hardwicke as a featured guest and speaker is important to show woman students what they can do, Youmans said.

“The figures are terrible in terms of woman to male representation in Hollywood,” Youmans said. “It’s important for women to break into mainstream Hollywood film, and that’s why Catherine Hardwicke is so cool.”

This year, the festival will recognize Dr. Jules Arita Koostachin as the Shirley Jo Finney Feature filmmaker. This recognition is in honor of the late Shirley Jo Finney, an award-winning director as well as a former CASCADIA board member. 

“Chi mii’kwetch to CASCADIA Film Festival for supporting me in this truth telling. I have been a part of this festival since the beginning and so, I am deeply moved and grateful for the opportunity to share my work with this community,” Koostachin, who has a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Indigenous documentary and protocols and processes, told Postmedia in an email. 

The festival is a great way for students interested in arts and entertainment to gain access to opportunities in the film industry, said Kameishia Wooten, writer and director. 

Wooten’s film “Choices” is part of the Short Film Showcase: Body and Soul selection, and will show at 1 p.m., April 26, at The Pickford Film Center. 

 In addition to her work as a writer and director, Wooten is also a board member of the Alliance of Women Directors.

“It’s important to have a space for women to showcase their work,” Wooten said. “As well as to inspire the next generation of women filmmakers – that they can do it.”

In addition to the film showings and discussions, CASCADIA also includes a gallery exhibition as part of the festival. The exhibition, which is new this year, will run from April 5 until May 31 in the Dakota Art Store.

Despite this being the first year to include an art installation, it has been in the works from the start, Crooks said. 

Thirty-five female artists are featured in the gallery. The gallery opening on April 5 had over 400 attendees, making it the largest opening at Dakota Art Store on record, according to Crooks. 

“It was part of the grand plan from the outset that we would expand as the festival grew to include other kinds of events to showcase women,” Crooks said. “We’re already talking about how we’re going to expand that next year.”

One of the 27 films being showcased is “Love Letters”, a 39-minute-long film about Elizabeth Wood and Dr. Catharine Stimpson. This film, directed by Greta Schiller, highlights the love story between Wood and Stimpson while recounting the monumental custody battle the two went through in the 1970s.

The film originally premiered on March 8 at a showing sponsored by CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival, the Western Foundation, Western’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, and LGBTQ+ Western. The overwhelmingly positive response led to the decision to include the film in the festival despite the length of the film exceeding the short-film limit, Crooks said.  

Crooks said the best way for Western students to get involved is to attend the showings, participate in the script studio, attend the panels or volunteer for the festival.

Peyton Perdue

Peyton Perdue (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second-year visual journalism major minoring in religion and culture studies. When she’s not reporting, you can find her taking pictures, reading or (most likely) napping. You can reach Peyton at

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Western Front