All about animals — 5th annual Animal Film Festival opens Saturday in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

All about animals — 5th annual Animal Film Festival opens Saturday in Grass Valley

Kim Midboe
Staff writer

With 22 animal-themed films from around the world ready to roll, the 5th annual Animal Film Festival is sure to entertain and inspire animal lovers.

"This is a one-day event but those 12 hours are packed with all things animal," said Shelley Frost, director of Animal Film Festival.

Produced by the Center for Animal Protection & Education, the festival kicks off Saturday, Feb. 17, at The Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., with the first film screening at 10 a.m.

"The morning session is uplifting. It's great for families," said Frost.

"It's a Potcake Life" is one such film, which chronicles the journey from heartbreak to hope of homeless dogs indigenous to the Bahamas.

This year, two films have ties to the Sacramento area. "The Invisible Mammal," by Kristin Tieche, was filmed in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. With more than 250,000 bats living there, the film points out the perils the bats face and how humans can help strengthen the species.

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"A Horse, A Convict, Second Chance," shot at the Rio Consumnes Correctional Center, explores the powerful connection between an inmate and a rescued horse. Filmmaker Autumn Payne, a Sacramento Bee photographer, is one of the many filmmakers who will take the stage during the festival to answer audience questions about their films.

"There are so many filmmakers attending this year. It's an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by them. You can learn how you, too, can make a difference," said Frost.

The nonprofit Adam and Amber Tarshis Foundation is partnering with the film festival for the second year, awarding a total of $17,000 to filmmakers.

New this year are awards for the best feature, best short and best student entries. The Tarshis's will present the awards at the beginning of the festival's evening session.

The Foundation also honors filmmakers whose short films — between 30 and 90 seconds in length — creatively and convincingly highlight the issues of animal suffering in modern farming, food production, and/or laboratory research. Those winners will receive awards totaling $7,000.

CAPE will also present its Compassion Award to the American Wild Horse Preservation, a national organization for the protection of wild horses. Denise Cain will receive the Lisa Landey Dog Save award for her work locally.

"She is one woman doing what she can" to "save dogs who have no other options, except euthanasia," said Frost.

At 1:15 p.m. at the Off Center Stage, the investigative documentary, "Korean Dog Meat Expose" from the Republic of Korea, will be shown. This in-depth film exposes the current conditions in South Korean dog farms. The ­undercover footage was captured with smartphones.

"It is tough to get through (this film) so it is only for those 18 and older," said Frost. "We are also turning off the audio. James Hyams, the filmmaker, will be there to narrate the film in person."

Admission to this film is included with an All-Day Pass ticket, or may be viewed on its own with a $15 ticket available at the front door of The Center for The Arts.

Operation Deathstar, a virtual reality experience presented by DxE (Direct Action Everywhere), will also take place at Off Center Stage. The viewer will witness 360-degree views of the rescue of two piglets from an industrial farm, where 1.2 million pigs are processed every year. Access to this showing is included with the purchase of an All-Day Pass ticket.

In celebration of the festival's 5th anniversary, a retrospective of films from past years will be shown in a room off the lobby area. For the comfort of the audience, yoga instructors will lead stretching exercises during the intermissions. Vegan food prepared by chefs Ramona and Jennifer Howard also will be sold in the lobby area.

Tickets are $25 for an All-Day Pass; $15 senior, student and military; $10 for evening session (7-9 p.m.) only. For tickets and a complete festival schedule, visit http://www.animalfilmfestival.org. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door.

All proceeds from the festival benefit the special needs animals rescued by CAPE (www.capeanimals.org). CAPE'S sanctuary is located in Grass Valley.

To contact graphic designer Kim Midboe, email kmidboe@theunion.com or call 530-477-4251.