18th Annual Nevada City Film Festival Sept. 7-14, 2018

The 18th Annual Nevada City Film Festival (NCFF) takes place September 7-14, 2018, at historic locations throughout downtown Nevada City.  This year’s festival celebrates the creatives, visual storytellers, and filmmakers that dare us to dream, seek out new possibilities, forge connections, and embrace diversity, all the while sharing in this grand experiment called life.

NCFF has been called the “Sundance of the Sierra” for its emphasis on fiercely independent cinema by showcasing innovative, progressive and exciting new voices in film.  Each year, NCFF attends major film festivals, collaborates with film schools around the world, reads countless film blogs, and watches the hundreds of films submitted, to narrow it all down to the very best in independent film. From feature-length documentaries to world premiere shorts, NCFF brings in the buzzed-about festival winners, as well as some of independent cinema’s best-kept secrets.

Filmmaker panels are a great feature of NCFF.

“This year’s films bring us closer together,” says Jesse Locks, Nevada City Film Festival Director.  “From miners in Appalachia to miners in Ghana, from art collectives in New Mexico to young creatives in Portugal, from Nevada County locals exploring sense of place to Syrian refugees forced to establish a new home, these stories show that even though thousands of miles may separate us, we are more alike then we are different.”

NCFF kicks off on Friday, September 7 with a Block Party on Argall Way in the 7-hills Business District.  Participating businesses will feature art, food, live music, Virtual Reality experiences, films, and more.  The event will also include the Grand Opening of the Onyx Theatre. Attendees who missed their Open House in May can stop by for a tour of the brand new 2-screen art house film theatre, meet filmmakers participating in the festival, and see clips of this year’s films.

Have a Virtual Reality experience at NCFF.

Other highlights of this year’s festival include the nearly 100 award-winning shorts and feature length films, with over 35 of the film’s filmmakers traveling from around the world to attend and participate in Question & Answer’s following the films.

This year’s feature films check all the boxes of what an independent film festival should encompass; from promising debuts by emerging directors to seasoned industry favorites taking creative risks to tell new and exciting stories, and everything in between.

Bill Nye was a special guest at NCFF in 2017. Photo by Kial James

Opening night’s films include The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a timely coming-of-age-story directed by Desiree Akhavan and starring Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick Ass, Clouds of Sils Maria) and the time traveling drama The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Big Foot, directed by Robert Krzykowski, with Sam Elliot and Aidan Turner (Poldark) as a legendary American war veteran who is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.

Other films include:

Cai Chengjie’s eccentric fable The Widowed Witch, about a third-time widow who falls on especially hard times and declared cursed, but turns superstition to her advantage by travelling the wintry landscape of rural China and offering supernatural advice, in this modern tale of mysticism told with mordant humor and starkly beautiful cinematography. The Widowed Witch took top prize at the Rotterdam Film Festival this year.

Taipei, directed by Jason Lester, is an adaptation of Tao Lin’s novel of the same name. Twilight, Nocturnal Animals actors Ellie Bamber and Justin Chon star in this modern romance that explores love, alienation, loneliness, drugs, writing, technology — how we can exist and connect amidst all of the cultural detritus of the internet age.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story follows a group of artists in Santa Fe, NM become a DIY collective called Meow Wolf. Their immersive, large-scale exhibitions crack open a profitable niche in the arts industry, even as their social mission is challenged by the demands of rapid success. The group’s members navigate fracture and loss for years in pursuit of their idealistic vision. When they spark the interest of George R. R. Martin and receive his support to take over an old bowling alley, Meow Wolf builds a massive exhibition with over 140 artists working at a breakneck pace.  Directed by Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller.

The Money Stone directed by award-winning director Stuart Harmon (Emmy-nominated VICELAND series “Woman”) is the coming-of-age story of two boys chasing their dreams among the gold mines of Ghana.

hillbilly, co-directed by Ashley York and Sally Rubin, goes on a personal and political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, exploring the role of media representation in the creation of the iconic American “hillbilly,” and examining the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype. Filmed in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, hillbilly uncovers an unexpected set of artists, poets, activists, queer musicians, “Affrilachian” poets, and intersectional feminists — all unexpected voices emerging from this historically misunderstood region.

In The Long Shadow, two daughters of the South (including director Frances Causey) look beyond their white privilege to discover a history that’s been hidden, exposing the long and shockingly powerful reach of Southern politics – from slavery through to today’s racial imbalance.

NCFF and the Nevada Theatre Film Series have partnered to present a special double feature celebrating the life and work of iconoclast filmmaker and champion of social justice, Hal Ashby (Shampoo, Being There, Coming Home).  On Sunday, September 9, they will screen the critically acclaimed documentary Hal, directed by Amy Scott, which features candid interviews with some of Ashby’s most loyal film collaborators and admirers including Jeff Bridges, Jane Fonda and Louis Gossett Jr as well as Alexander Payne, Judd Apatow, Beau Bridges, Haskell Wexler and Norman Jewison.  Followed by Ashby’s 1971 cult classic Harold & Maude.

Directors Christina Choe and Blackhorse Lowe, recipients of NCFF’s Filmmaker Residency will also be in attendance. The focus of the Filmmaker Residency is to bring filmmakers from communities with historic ties to Nevada City, placing special emphasis on engaging Native and Asian American filmmakers, to participate in a four to six week cross-cultural exchange with Nevada County residents.

Christina Choe is an American filmmaker whose 2011 short film, I am John Wayne, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival and screened at dozens of festivals around the world including NCFF. Her feature film debut, Nancy, a psychodrama starring Andrea Riseborough, J. Smith-Cameron, Ann Dowd, John Leguizamo, and Steve Buscemi, recently had its world premiere in the US Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where Choe was awarded the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.  During the festival Choe will screen her film Nancy and take part in a discussion with attendees.

Director Blackhorse Lowe (Navajo) is known for narrative films set on the Navajo reservation that explore the pull between Navajo tradition and contemporary non-Navajo ways. His films have premiered at Sundance and Tribeca Film Festival, among other festivals. Lowe will screen his mesmerizing film Chasing the Light as well as a special program on Southwest films, both followed by a filmmaker Q&A.

Many opportunities to eat, drink, and discuss the films with other patrons.

BriarPatch Co-op and Nevada County Grown have partnered to launch a Food & Film Series this fall.  NCFF will be the first in many community partners to host a screening in conjunction with the series.

NCFF will welcome 400 students from Nevada City schools on Friday, September 7 for a special film presentation from Pixar Studios. NCFF will also host a free screening for kids, Saturday morning on September 8 at the Nevada Theatre, of international animated shorts.

The festival wraps Friday, September 14 with an outdoor “Best of the Fest” screening in Pioneer Park at 6pm. Attendees can enjoy delicious eats from local and regional food trucks, award-winning beer from Ol’ Republic and the winners of this year’s festival including the highly coveted Audience Choice Award.

Don’t miss the Best of the Fest celebration at Pioneer Park. Photo by Kial James

Early Bird Festival Passes (ends Aug 18) $59 includes all films at certain locations, VR, After Dark Parties, Reserved Seating and Complimentary Membership, Festival Passes (after Aug 18) $89/$79, Individual Screenings Tickets $10/$8,

Advance Tickets available online, by phone at (530) 362-8601, and in person at NCFF Office, 110 Union Street, Nevada City, M-F 9am-5pm. During the Festival tickets are available at eave venues location and NCFF HQ.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.nevadacityfilmfestival.com.

Content and photos submitted by Jesse Locks