Courtesy of Reel Grrls
"Be Your Own Shoe" will be shown at the Second Annual Film Festival

The Second Annual Ballard Film Festival

A rare opportunity to see independent films by local talent

On Friday, a variety of short films made by local talent will hit the big screen at the Sunset Hill Community Club for its Second Annual Ballard Film Festival: An Evening of Local Shorts.

The evening will be packed with works by local film makers, some as young as nine years old.

An Evening of Local Shorts will feature works from Adams Elementary, Reel Grrls, Ballard High School Video Production and Ballard High Alumn. The festival will also show Seattle International Film Festival’s “Anatomy of a Fly” and a preview of John Helde’s latest documentary “120 Acres:An American Farm.”

Some of the youngest filmmakers are from the Reel Grrls productions. Reel Grrls is an organization that empowers young women, ages 9 to 19, to realize their power, talent and influence through media production. They offer a variety of hands-on workshops on production skills including animation, cinematography and script writing.

“We were totally thrilled to have our films chosen for the film festival,” said technical director Lila Kitaeff.

”There’s something special about showing them locally and be able to bring friends and family to see your work.”

Reel Grrls will be showing two animations and two documentaries.

Kitaeff said opportunities like these keeps students excited and communities engaged.

“It’s really exciting to be able to send out congratulations letters to our students and invite them to the event," she said.

Kitaeff added that even in Seattle, with its vibrant independent film scene, it’s difficult for young filmmakers to succeed, especially for women.

Jesse Harris, a Ballard High alum, is no stranger to the obstacles young filmmakers face.

“There are very few resources out there for young filmmakers. A festival is a great opportunity for these filmmakers to show their films,” he said.

Harris is Ballard’s point of pride when it comes to films. In 2003, at age 17, Harris became the youngest American ever to write and direct a feature film that was theatrically released and featured internationally on HBO. He is currently the Executive Director of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth.

“When I realized how few resources there were for young people to showcase their films, I founded the National Film Festival for Talented Youth or NFFTY.”

NFFTY has now become the largest youth film festival in the world.

“There are so many amazing independent films out there that people don’t get to see,” he said. “So film festivals, even a small one in Ballard, is definitely important.”

Harris will be showing a music video he made for a local band, The Apple War.

Ashley Russel is another Ballard High alum who has managed to carve out a career for herself in the Seattle film industry.

“I work pretty steady in the film industry as a wardrobe designer, producer, et cetera. I think I was invited to show my work to show kids they can make this a career and it is a reality,” Russel said.

Russel will be showing a documentary called “Procession” which she directed, co-shot and co-edited with fellow students at Seattle Central Community College.

“It’s a mood documentary and it’s about the city of Seattle waking up,” she said. “It follows two people from the time their alarm clock goes off to their first few minutes at work.”

Russel said that while working on this film she learned to follow her gut while shooting but also have a plan for the edit room.

“I think this festival is a good show of what you can learn,” she said.

Coburn Erskine, a Ballard High and Western Washington University alum, will be showing "Bear Grils".

"It's a short silent film about a teddy bear who loses his master in the woods and must survive while making his way back to civilization'" he said.

Erskine has been nominated twice for the student Emmy awards and works for The Production Foundry in the Green Lake neighborhood.

All films are family appropriate and attendees will be able to ask questions of the filmmakers during a Q&A session following the screenings.

The festival is free but donation are welcomed. The event takes place on Friday, Nov. 19 from 7-9 p.m. at the Sunset Hill Community Club. 3003 NW 66th Street, Seattle.

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