2017 signifies the 12th Anniversary for Bay City’s Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival, which through the dedicated vision of its organizers has successfully delivered a divergent array of cutting edge independent films & music throughout Bay City for a four-day artistic excursion that stands out from the mainstream by showcasing the works of innovative directors making movies that possess substance, weight, merit, and meaning.
This year’s festival will run from September 28 – October 1st and feature 21 feature films, 5 shorts programs with 50-plus short films, and a healthy sampling of innovative music and workshops.
According to festival director and co-founder Alan LaFave, “Many of our film’s subjects are very topical this year. Undocument is a U.K. film that shows the lengths that refugees of oppressive and war-torn countries go to for a measure of freedom and security. Stigmatic: Our Opioid Crisis is a locally produced documentary showing how this crisis is right here in our back yard. The Peacemaker is about a man who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland and South Africa, but his personal challenges are the hardest part of his life.”
“And then of course, we have quirky comedies, emotional dramas and some really great thrillers. And short films!!!!! So many amazing short films grouped into five separate programs. We’ll have over 40 filmmakers present at the festival available for questions about their films.”
“Also, we are focusing a segment of our programming on Michigan made films, called Michigan Matinee. Saturday morning includes one narrative feature, one documentary feature and a shorts program.”
“Hells Half Mile is another layer that has made our community a more interesting place to live,” notes LaFave. “One of my personal goals when starting the festival was to prove that you can break from the norm and do something a bit more progressive in a city as small as Bay City. We had to go slowly to find our audience, but we found them and more and more of them are finding us. My hope has always been that the festival inspires other people to create something new for our community, something they’re passionate about.”
Here are some highlights of this year’s festival.
This year we have partnered with Studio 23 Art Center to have them screen experimental or documentary films that illustrate the creative process, whether the subject is fine art, film, music or performance.
There are two feature length films including “Neon” retracing the history of the Communist-era neon signs of Warsaw, Poland, as well as “From Darkroom to Daylight” that explores the dramatic change from film to digital has affected photographers and their work. They’ll also be screening nine additional short films on various subjects. It’s a great addition to the festival.
Michigan Film & Digital Media Office Participation
The Michigan Film Office Advisory Council will be meeting at the Delta College Planetarium & Learning Center’s Explorers Hall. This meeting is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. We hope you will attend to see what the MFDMO is doing to drive the creative industries to Michigan.
In addition, as part of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office being the Presenting Sponsor of the festival, they continue to support our unique filmmaker crowdfunding efforts at our 3rd annual Crowdfunding Rally. This event is an opportunity to make the move from filmgoer to film contributor by supporting and contributing to the making of the next great independent films. This year, we’re focusing on documentary films. Hear the live pitch, follow campaign online, and then choose the project(s) you feel deserve your support. Our audience can help “greenlight” a film project with any size contribution, from $10 to as many digits as they want! This takes place during our Saturday Reception.
Seed and Spark Workshop
For those of you who don’t have a couple hundred thousand dollars lying around to spend on billboards and commercials to promote your films or passion projects, Seed & Spark has a great workshop for you. Social Media Charm School will teach you the following and it is absolutely free. Held at the Delta College Planetarium at 4pm on Friday September 29th.
• Which platforms are best for you
• How to build an authentic fan base
• Why doing is always better than hoping
• What it takes to build goodwill online
• Why a little artful online flirting can go a long way
The Hell’s Half Mile ‘Half Mile’ Race is Back!
Sunday is the last day of the festival and after two-and-a-half days of movies, music, receptions and other events, some people still have the energy to hit the streets for our half-mile run. The Hell’s Half Mile “Half Mile” race is a half mile run in Downtown Bay City right on Water Street, which was the location of the infamous “hell’s half mile”, our namesake.
It probably sounds ludicrous to have just a half-mile race, but it pretty much goes with the festival’s personality. It starts at 10 am on Sunday morning, October 1st and ends just past the intersection of Water Street and Center Avenue. Prizes will be awarded. There’s a $12 entry fee, which gets you your race bibs, your 0.5-mile sticker, a film voucher, a sweet treat from The Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe, some fresh fruit from the Bay City Food Co-op, and a drink ticket.
The drink ticket can be immediately redeemed at Tavern 101 for your choice of a selection of beers, mimosa or Bloody Mary. Sounds like a great way to start a Sunday. Plus, you’re already downtown so you can catch a movie! The Hell’s Half Mile Run is sponsored by the Bay City Food Co-op and United Financial Credit Union.
Festival Pass & Ticket Information
For ticket information, passes, and detailed film schedules & locations of all events please visit www.hellshalfmile.com.
All Access Passes - $55 until Sept. 24th, includes access to all films, Friday music at the Empire Ballroom, Saturday music at Scottish Rite Cathedral, Opening Night Reception, Friday Filmmaker Reception, and the Saturday Festival Happy Hour and Crowdfunding Rally. All Access Pass cost increases to $65 on Sept. 25th.
Film Passes - $25 until Sept. 24th, includes access to all films at all locations. Film Pass cost increases to $35 on Sept. 25th.
Friday Music - $8 (all ages). Located at The Empire Ballroom, corner of Washington and First St. 10:00pm start time.
Saturday Music - $15 (all ages). Located at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 614 Center Avenue 9:00pm start time.
Film venues include the State Theatre (913 Washinton Ave.) Delta College Planetarium (100 Center Ave.) and the Scottish Rite Cathedral (614 Center Ave.) Visit www.hellshalfmile.com for complete info and updates.