Looking to the West: Nevada City Film Festival screens Best of the West | TheUnion.com

Looking to the West: Nevada City Film Festival screens Best of the West

By appearances, Nevada City itself could serve as the perfect backdrop for a good old fashioned Western movie; with its Gold Rush-era architecture, narrow and rocky streets, and the underlying sense of rogue mentality, it's practically begging to be scenery to a duel at high noon.

Perhaps with this in mind, the Nevada City Film Festival is honoring the Western film genre this Saturday at the Nevada Theatre with Best of the West, a benefit for their 18th annual festival taking place late this summer.

The screenings — which will occupy the Nevada Theatre from 11 a.m. to midnight — were carefully selected by the film festival's dedicated staff.

Jesse Locks, Executive Director of Nevada City Film Festival, said, "We threw ourselves into the task of watching as many Westerns as possible. It started with us wanting to screen a few of our favorite Westerns as a fundraiser, but it quickly grew into something more. We wanted to have as many of the subgenres — epic, silent, singing cowboy, spaghetti, noir, contemporary, revisionistic — of Western films be represented, as well as the directors and actors that defined the genre."

Each film's contribution to the cinematic landscape was not lost on Locks and her team.

"Each [one] brings something significant to the history of cinema," she said. "So in addition to enjoying some great classic films you get a bit of a history and film studies lesson as well!"

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Cowboy up

Fans of the Western genre will not be disappointed by the selections. Among the films being screened as part of Best of the West are Roy Roger's B-movie tale "Nevada City" (a more colorful look at what life may have been like in our hometown those many years ago), the John Wayne classic "Stagecoach", John Sturges' "The Magnificent Seven" and the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti Western "A Fistful of Dollars."

Nevada City Film Festival's relationship with the Western genre goes back a number of years. In the past, they have screened such classics as "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" and "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly." According to Locks, there are many reasons the festival finds such appeal in a Western.

"Probably like so many other film lovers, we are drawn to the beautiful locations featured in Westerns of these wide-open wild spaces," Locks said. "I suppose the idea of rugged individualism and fierce independence plays a role as well; if we didn't exhibit some of those traits, we probably wouldn't have made it the last 18 years as an international independent film festival in a little town in the Foothills."

Aside from the fun that will undoubtedly be had, Best of the West's main purpose is to raise funds for this year's Nevada City Film Festival.

"NCFF is supported entirely through ticket sales, business sponsorships and private donations," said Locks. "We will use funds from this event towards our Pixar in the Schools program which we host each year at the film festival — we invite nearly 600 students to attend a special screening of a Pixar film and host an animator to speak to the students about careers in the film industry."

Locks said, "We will also put funds towards our Media Maker Residency, which supports emerging film and media makers through education, creative and professional development, and forums with the community."

From the festival

For Saturday's event, patrons can purchase tickets to individual screenings, but passes to all films are available. The theatre will open 15 minutes before each screening. Many of the works have been digitally remastered, and popcorn, soda, beer and wine will be available for purchase.

The Nevada City Film Festival's dedication to the preservation and promotion of classic and independent film is evident in their work.

Locks was excited to share some information about this year's film festival, which will be held Sept. 7-14.

"The festival will run for seven days again, which means more movies and screenings. In addition to our various historic venues in downtown Nevada City, we will be at the beautiful new Onyx Theatre. We will have another fun outdoor screening, but there will be a twist. We will be honoring a very special guest this year!"

Locks continued, "No matter what collection of films — shorts, Westerns, repertory films (i.e. Movies Under the Pines) — the Nevada City Film Festival screens, they are always curated with our audience in mind. We work tirelessly to give our audience the best in cinema – past, present and future."

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at jenkrisnobles@gmail.com.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Nevada City Film Festival presents Best of the West: A celebration of the Western film genre and a benefit for the 18th annual Nevada City Film Festival

WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, Nevada City

WHEN: 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday

TICKETS & INFO: $10/per screening, Tickets are available by phone 530-362-8601 or online at nevadacityfilmfestival.com