Animal Film Festival in Grass Valley aids furry and feathered friends |

Animal Film Festival in Grass Valley aids furry and feathered friends

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector
Remy, a popular ex-race horse who has been rescued and is living at Center for Animal Protection & Education. "My Paintbrush Bites," a film about a man and horse who seemingly save each other, will screen as part of the Animal Film Festival.
Submitted Photo

WHAT: The Center for Animal Protection and Education presents the Sixth Animal Film Festival

WHERE: Saturday at the Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley, Sunday at The Nevada Theater in Nevada City

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, February 9 & 10, varying times

HOW: Tickets and information at

The Center for Animal Protection and Education (CAPE) works to rescue animals with special needs and has a sanctuary on McCourtney Road as well a dog shelter in Sonoma County. They also produce the Animal Film Festival taking place this weekend, with films and speakers opening the festival Saturday at the Gold Miners Inn ballroom in Grass Valley and continuing Sunday with a full day of screenings at the Nevada Theatre.

The Center’s creative director, Shelley Frost, serves as the film festival director.

“Six years ago, we decided to put on an animal film festival because we have always been a producer of movies and we decided there was a need to provide a platform because these films had a hard time entering the main stream film fests,” Frost said. “The Animal Film Festival provides an enormous opportunity for filmmakers around the world. In six years, we have received over a thousand submissions and each year we screen between twenty and thirty films that we select by jury.”

This year Frost screened 230 movies.

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“I take this very seriously,” she said. “Filmmakers pay a submission fee and they deserve to have their film watched and critiqued. I respond to any inquiry from a filmmaker. I just really honor them. The judges watch 50 to 60 films and then based on a scoring system, we hone it down to those shown.

“We call ourselves the Sundance of animal (film) festivals. It is a wonderful and inspiring event and it puts the ‘e’ in our name, which stands for education.”

Twenty-three short films will be shown, as well as one feature. Frost said each year a theme organically forms.

“This year we had several themes evolve; animals and religion, women empowerment, and cats. Our funny film is called Feline Paralysis which illustrates one’s inability to move when a cat takes residence on your lap. We are showing a couple of films about natural disasters and one film called Firefox Guardian about a girl in Nepal who on her own is trying to rescue the red panda, and it is such a good movie.”

“A Film About Animals (for my children to watch when they are older)” which won best short and $1,000 in the general category, is directed by Eric Metzgar.

“I went to Cambodia to follow Wildlife Alliance, a group that tries to tackle the illegal wildlife trade,” Metzgar said. “I went around with armed Cambodian troops who the organization uses to do raids. I came back home with this footage and was struggling with a way to make it compelling. I ended up turning it into a filmed letter to my children that raises the question of when and how to talk to children about the real state of the natural world. Though I am still not sure I know when that is. My kids are three and six (years old) and are still too young.“

Metzgar does not recommend the film for children younger than ten years old.

“Although the title says it’s a film for children it is really not for young children. There are some concepts and images that are gruesome.”

The sole feature length film is titled “Mercy’s Kennel,” about the “Pitbull situation in Atlanta” which will be the last film shown Sunday. The filmmaker, Tracy Bishop, will take the stage for a Q&A session following the screening.

Frost said, “We have surveyed our audience and they really enjoy the filmmaker commentary, plus we are having some very special guests. About a dozen filmmakers will be available to take questions following their screening.”

The festival also brings speakers to educate the audiences on timely topics. Speaking at the festival Saturday evening in Grass Valley are Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips, co-founders of Animal Defenders International. Frost said they are “a well-known, highly accomplished, animal advocacy organization who work to free or pass legislation outlawing the use of wild animals in circuses all around the world. We are very excited about that.”

Having just returned from Guatemala earlier this week Tim Phillips related his belief in the power of film to change lives. Within a few weeks after seeing a film in the 80s about the abuses of animals, he literally quit his banking job and picked up a camera and has been working to bring awareness and change ever since.

“We do believe if we give people the facts they will react to them,” Phillips said. “When we began, people were not aware. Now they are, so our work now involves solutions. We will be showing a glimpse of the rescue and the sanctuary being built in Guatemala and giving people some up to date information about other legislation.”

Thanks to the Tarshis Foundation, $12,000 in prize money is given to the top filmmakers.

“We have a wonderful foundation who donates money for the filmmakers. All of the winning filmmakers who are present will receive money during the festival,” Frost said.

The festival not only provides entertainment and education to the audience, it also brings the audience to Nevada County, which of course, is a help to the local economy. For example, San Francisco resident Metzgar will be bringing his family, including his parents, who are visiting from Virginia. And the Animal Defenders International executives will also be visiting for the first time. This is but a sample of the word-of-mouth economic boost the cities could enjoy.

There will be a one-hour lunch break on Sunday. BackPorch Market in Grass Valley will be delivering sandwiches which must be pre-ordered. The menu is specifically created for the Animal Film Festival and orders will be taken through Friday evening.

Tickets and a full schedule of events are available at Tickets can be purchased for each day or for the entire festival. All funds go towards supporting the Center for Animal Protection and Education sanctuaries and programs.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at

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