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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Davis Film Festival holds fifth showing starting tonight

Those turned off by the lack of interesting, thought-provoking films in theaters these days may now have found a place of refuge. The fifth annual Davis Film Festival kicks off at 7:30 p.m. today at Varsity Theatre with the screening of acclaimed documentary and multiple film festival award-winner Moving Midway.

Continuing Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Theatre, this year’s festival features films on topics including art, music, war and human rights. Included in the lineup are short works and feature-length pieces by filmmakers from all around the country.

Festival director Judith Plank created the annual event in 2003 after she decided that Davis, like many other small communities around the nation, needed an all-encompassing film festival for the entire city – not just UC Davis. Plank is pleased at how much the event has grown in scope and popularity over the years.

It takes a while for people in a community to expect annual events like this every year, and I think we have almost gotten to that point now, she said. I’m amazed – there’s a lot more community involvement every year. I just hope one day we’ll be as big as Mill Valley.

According to film studies professor Jaimey Fisher, small, community-based film festivals have become an important avenue for marketing independent films that would normally have little chance of being distributed widely. Plus, smaller communities get a chance to see films they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, he said.

Film festivals have become a well-established part of the supply chain for small films, Fisher said. This creates word-of-mouth publicity about a film without an extensive campaign.

The following are some provided synopses that highlight the variety that will take the screen at this year’s festival.


Moving Midway – Godfrey Cheshire (98 min.)tonight

The film chronicles the resettlement of renowned Southern film critic Godfrey Cheshire’s family from noisy, sprawling Raliegh, N.C. to the ancestral home of their extended family – the quiet, mysterious Midway Plantation. He uses this event to analyze the Southern plantation in American history and culture, including its influence on areas such as music, movies and race relations.


The Traveler – William Olsson (60 min.), Friday

When confronted by his longtime girlfriend who tells him that he is unable to love and is more dead than alive, Albin’s life falls apart. He gets fired from his job at a bank and cannot push himself to take the final exam for a prestigious M.B.A. degree. Albin flees home in desperation and ends up at a seedy hostel in former East Berlin.


Pirate Radio USA Jeff Pearson (85 min.), Friday

According to their website, the film is a feature length digital documentary about the underground world of illegal radio in America, where people play what they want and say what they want – unless the FCC catches them…


Saturday afternoon will feature shorts only. A few of these include:


A Day Like Any Other – Alex Kravitz (7 min.)

Kravitz, a Davis High School junior and aspiring film director, originally wrote and directed this in response to a call for submissions to a youtube.com video competition. Based on a 14-year-old girl and her mildly mentally challenged 16-year-old brother after the death of their mother, the film explores family dynamics in less-than-optimal circumstances.


68° and Clear – Dawn Westlake (15 min.)

Taking place in L.A., where it is always 68 degrees and clear, this film shows how an 11-year-old African American mugger saves the life of a middle-aged suicidal white woman.


Two films will be screened on Saturday night:



Listen to Iran’s People: A Call for Peace – Margot Smith (30 min.)

This was filmed in Iran during March 2007, an particularly unstable political time. The video chronicles the filmmaker’s trip and the thoughts of people on the street – students, professors and imams – who all expressed to the United States a wish for peace.



For the Bible tells me so – Daniel Karslake (99 min.)

This documentary attempts to reconcile homosexuality and Biblical scripture. Tough questions are posed: Does God really condemn loving homosexual relationships? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?


Tickets for one showing are $10, and a $35 pass includes admission to all of the festival’s events. All tickets can be purchased online at davisfilmfest.org or at Armadillo Music on F Street.



LAYOUT: Sidebar, Daily Schedule

Thursday 7:30 p.m. – doors open 7 p.m.

Moving Midway – Godfrey Cheshire (98 min.)

9 p.m. Q & A with the filmmakers

Friday 7:30 – doors open 6 p.m.

Fundraiser for KDRT 101.5 FM

Torn Asunder – Bob Barancik (5 min.)

Pirate Radio USA – Jeff Pearson (85 min.)


7 Minutes – Shannon O’Rourke (10 min.)

The Traveler – William Olsson (60 min.)

Saturday afternoon: Shorts begin 12:30 p.m. – Doors Open 12 p.m.

A Day Like Any Other Alex Kravitz (7 min.)

Primates of Uganda and Rwanda – Fred Heiman (40 min.)

68° and Clear – Dawn Westlake (15 min.)

Soldiers of Sisyphus – Bob Barancik (5 min.)

Lanesplitting – Chet Patterson (5 min.)

Islands at Risk – Na Maka o ka Aina (30 min.)


Diary of Niclas Gheiler – George Aguilar (32 min.)

Worlds Within Worlds – Marlene Sinicki (5 min.)

Leftovers – Chelsea Walton (2 min.)

A Trip to Prague – Neil Ira Needleman (5 min.)

Maybe Baby – Shannon O’Rourke (60 min.)

The Davis Film Festival Party 4 to 6 p.m. at the Davis Art Center. Will include food, drink and music.

Saturday 7:30 p.m. – Doors Open 7p.m.

Listen to Iran’s People: A Call for Peace – Margot Smith (30 min.)


For the Bible tells me so – Daniel Karslake (99 min.)

SONIA PARECADAN can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.



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