The Value of Film Festivals

Twenty years ago after tripping from one side of the San Juan Mountains (Durango) to the other (Telluride), I found myself watching an outdoor movie about a downtrodden family in Romania. Later in the day, I saw Oliver Stone hanging out in the Floradora Saloon while some guy (aspiring filmmaker?) chewed his ear off.

What a memorable weekend. What I remember most was the feeling that I just seen something completely original and deeply honest. I wanted to see more films like the one I had just witnessed at the Telluride Film Festival.


Filmmaker Evin Grant, left, works on the film “The Extraordinary Monday of Herman Brumby,” one of the entrants at this year’s Sundial Film Festival.

Redding’s own Sundial Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday at the Cascade Theatre with a gala event scheduled for 6:30 p.m. It’s the second year of the event, which also includes a children’s film festival and a category for still photography.

In addition to food and beverages, a selection of films from the festival will be shown during the gala. Tickets are $50 for the upscale event.

Tickets are just $6 to see groups of films on Thursday through Saturday. For a schedule of films and more information, click here.


A scene from the Sundial animated film entrant, “Sebastian’s Voodoo.”

Films were submitted for consideration in narrative, documentary, experimental and animation categories. There are films from filmmakers from the State of Jefferson (far northern California and southern Oregon) and films from beyond (the international category). Full disclosure: I served as one of the judges for the international category.

Groups of films will be shown at 3, 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, groups of films will be shown at 10 a.m., 1, 3:30 and 7 p.m. The Sundial Film Festival Awards Ceremony ($15) takes place at 7 p.m., where light cocktails, popcorn will be available, awards will be given out and winning films will be shown.


It was a pleasure to see the films in the international category. There are some real gems in there. I’m looking forward to seeing films from the Jefferson category.

If I had a limitless supply of money, I might start jumping around from film festival to film festival around the world. It’s at these festivals where the real power of soul of the medium is displayed.

It’s not that mainstream films are completely devoid of soul (many are, however), it’s just that most tend to repackage the same winning formula again and again to sell tickets.

Film festival entries tend to steer away from that homogenized vibe. That’s why they tend to hit you harder and remain in your mind longer. A lot of the imagery from “Avatar” is already washing together in my mind.

Anyway, cheers to the filmmakers, films, photographers and organizers of the Sundial Film Festival.

How much for the popcorn?

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at
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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Alan Ernesto Phillip says:

    Cool, Jim!

    When is the date/time for the 'Children's Film Festival' showing??

    I would LOVE to take my girls!!

  2. Avatar Mary says:

    Seeyou at the Gala – this is going to be so much fun. Come and meet Doug Stanley from Deadliest Catch. He'll be a speaker tonight! What a gorgeous day we have, too.

    Tickets, schedule and info can all be obtained at the official website: