A return to the golden age of film: Nevada City Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary | TheUnion.com
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A return to the golden age of film: Nevada City Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

KNOW & GO

WHAT: 20th Annual Nevada City Film Festival

WHERE: Online at nevadacityfilmfestival.com

DRIVE-IN: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

WHEN: Aug. 28 through Sept. 4.

DRIVE-IN: Gates 6:30 p.m., film at 7:45 p.m.

TICKETS: Online Festival Pass $35, Industry Online Festival Pass $25, Pay As You Watch Online $8 each. Drive-in: $30 per vehicle with two people, $8 each additional person. Vehicle ticket includes Onyx Concessions Pack of jumbo popcorn with two drinks.

MORE INFO: nevadacityfilmfestival.com

Dedicated to bringing the best of independent films, music and comedy to this small town, the nonprofit Nevada City Film Festival has long been a staple of Northern California summer. Not only is the Festival hosted in partnership with Nevada Theatre, the oldest theatre in California, but it has grown in popularity outside of the community as well. The festival has twice been named by Moviemaker Magazine as a Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee and as the #3 Best Festival in the U.S. by USA Today!

This year is the Festival’s 20th anniversary and will feature almost 100 award-winning feature films, shorts, and animated pieces from around the world. Several local musicians will also get a chance to perform and sell their special compilation record, “Sounds of the Nevada City Album, Part One.” This lineup of entertainers — which in the past has featured the likes of Wesley Allsbrook, Bill Nye, Tig Notaro, and many others — makes the Nevada City Film Festival one not to miss.

As with most events this year, though, the Festival’s norm has had to change. Faced with the challenge of social distancing and COVID-19 shutdowns, the directors of the Nevada City Film Festival worked hard to recreate the festival experience to allow for safe social distancing for all audiences — while still enjoying the films offered. This year’s Festival experience now comes in two new forms: a global online festival and a drive-in performance.



“It was important for us to continue on through the crisis not just for us as a team, but for all of our members and those who look forward to the festival each year,” said Jesse Locks, Nevada City Film Festival executive director.

“We spent 20 years preparing for this moment. The festival brings together international, independent filmmakers and we like to keep that rough-around-the-edges dynamic. We feel the festival as a whole brightens up the events of the last few months.”— Jesse LocksNevada City Film Festival executive director

Every film will be offered online for anyone to enjoy during the duration of the festival, easily streamed like any other feature on Netflix or Hulu from the comfort of your home. Accompanying this digital extravaganza will be an online pre-party before the festival starts, a Q&A after every showing, and a series of “After Dark” concerts from the artists on the “Sounds of the Nevada City Album, Part One.”



The festival will be taking inspiration from the 60s and hosting additional drive-in showings each night. Audiences will be able to enjoy films like “Amelie,” “Freeland,” “Love From Santiago,” “Metro6,” and “Jacob’s Ladder” from the comfort of their vehicles — with dinner and ice cream offered, too.

The film magic will also continue through the summer with a free, month-long online youth animation class that teaches 72 students the basics of animation. Some of the class’s finished projects will be streamed at the Children’s/Family Shorts Program.

In honor of the golden age 1960s independent films and the festival’s own success, Creative Director Rich Good helped design an Official Release poster that takes on an old movie aesthetic — a golden theme that is echoed in the festival itself.

“We spent 20 years preparing for this moment,” said Locks. “The festival brings together international, independent filmmakers and we like to keep that rough-around-the-edges dynamic. We feel the festival as a whole brightens up the events of the last few months.”

Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, the COVID-19 shutdowns of major events and concerts have caused extreme challenges for filmmakers, producers, actors, musicians and other creators. Artists have found themselves without a place to broadcast their creations, scrambling to keep doing what they love while making ends meet.

Online and socially-distanced festivals like the Nevada City Film Festival hope to attempt to remedy that and support local organizations while they’re at it. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund, the Bear Yuba Land Trust, and the Nisenan, and the festival is partnering with Three Forks Brewery to provide a special 20th Anniversary Beer and support a local business while they’re at it.

“We feel it is important to continue to collaborate and support our fellow nonprofits that are doing incredible work in our community despite COVID,” said Locks, “We all know COVID shut down the movie industry both locally and internationally, but it didn’t stop creative people being creative. In speaking with this year’s filmmakers we heard from most that they are taking this time to write, hone their craft, and develop relationships with other filmmakers … after the pandemic we are going to see an explosion of great films!”

Come join the fun, enjoy some fantastical independent films, and support your local creators and businesses this Aug. 28 through Sept. 4. The Nevada City Film Festival Online Festival will be available the entire time for audiences to enjoy from their homes, and ticket prices range from $8 for Pay As You Watch Online to $35 for a full pass. The drive-in will be held each evening at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, and passes are $30 for a vehicle with two people, with each additional passenger costing $8.

For drive-in rules and more festival information, please visit nevadacityfilmfestival.com.

Mina Ricci is a freelancer writer who contributes to The Union and Prospector.


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