Sandpoint Film Festival celebrates 10 years with Labor Day weekend screenings at The Longshot

By Reader Staff

The Sandpoint Film Festival, usually hosted at the Panida Theater in the beginning of November, is celebrating its 10th anniversary but under different circumstances in the strange and challenging year of 2020. In effort to accommodate COVID-19 concerns, the festival will be presented as a free, three-day outdoors festival under the stars at The Longshot cafe and wine bar on the corner of Boyer Avenue and Highway 2, across from Dub’s. 

Scheduled for Labor Day weekend, Friday, Sept. 4-Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m., this year’s program consists of 15 films picked from almost 2,000 submissions. 

The goal of the festival is to find films that excel in telling a story, whether it is in a narrative, animation or documentary category. Festival organizers selected films that contribute to the art of filmmaking through telling compelling stories and presenting issues that are important to us as human beings in today’s world. 

According to organizers, “They also give us a window into that same world by showing other cultures, lives and environments that are important to us in recognizing our similarities, rather than our differences.”

Promotional art for Why Man Creates, Skid Row Marathon and The Exiles. Courtesy photos.

The opening night, Friday, Sept. 4, will consist of notable short films from around the world, and this year includes entries from France, Spain, Norway, India, Italy, Iran and several other countries. 

Bear With Me is a charming animated film about a bear who is desperately trying to go to sleep when it is time for hibernation. My Daughter Yoshiko is about a mother who is trying to cope with an autistic daughter. Missing My City illustrates the effects that the novel coronavirus has had on a city such as Los Angeles. Bathtub By The Sea, from Norway, is about a lonely lighthouse keeper who finds a mermaid washed up on the shores of his little island. Parable of the Little Miracle, from Russia, shows the magic that occurs when two lively teenagers present a stuffed animal to a sad young child. 

On Saturday, Sept 5, the program will consist of an Academy Award-winning short called Why Man Creates, followed by a feature titled The Exiles, about a group of Native Americans living in L.A. in the late 1950s. Both films are considered classic American films and have been inducted into the Library of Congress as films worthy of being preserved for all time. 

Sherman Alexie, the well known writer from the Spokane tribe, considers The Exiles one of the most important films made about contemporary Native American life.

The films Why Man Creates and The Exiles were also both photographed by local Oscar-winning filmmaker Erik Daarstad, who is an organizer of the Sandpoint Film Festival.

On Sunday, Sept. 6 the program will start with more shorts followed by a screening of Skid Row Marathon, an uplifting documentary that tells the story of how a criminal judge started a club on L.A.’s skid row where he trained a motley group of homeless people to run international marathons. 

The Sandpoint Film Festival is organized by Janice Jarzabek, who founded the event 10 years ago; Daarstad; and Bernice Webb, who serve as an all-volunteer board. Mike Jarzabek downloaded and prepared the films for screening. Eric Ridgeway will host the event. 

Festival organizers wish to thank Milestone Films and Pyramid Films for permission to show The Exiles and Why Man Creates, and extend thanks to Gabbi and Mark Hayes for Skidrow Marathon.

Thanks also go to The Longshot for serving as a venue for the event and to Pacific Northwest Law for sponsoring the festival.

Bring a chair or a blanket to The Longshot on the Labor Day weekend and enjoy three evenings of unique and inspiring stories under the stars.

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