Nevada City Film Festival offers week of cinematic offerings spanning globe |

Nevada City Film Festival offers week of cinematic offerings spanning globe

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector


WHAT: 19th Annual International Nevada City Film Festival

WHEN: Aug. 23-30

WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St.; Onyx Theatre, 107 Argall Way; Pioneer Park, 427 Nimrod St.; Festival HQ located at NCFF Office, 110 Union St., Nevada City

TICKETS: Early Bird Festival Passes (ends Aug. 22) $99 includes all films at Nevada Theatre and Pioneer Park, VR, After Dark Parties, Workshops/Panels, Reserved Seating and Complimentary Membership, Festival Passes (after Aug. 22) $150/GA, $140/Member, Student Pass $49, Individual Screenings Tickets $11/$9,

For a schedule or for advance tickets go online at, by phone at (530) 362-8601, and in person at NCFF Office, 110 Union Street, Nevada City, M-F 9 a.m.-5 p.m. During the Festival tickets are available at each of the venue locations.

In 2001, a young filmmaker named Jason Graham was working at the Magic Theatre in Nevada City (now renamed The Onyx) when he and a few of his (also filmmaker friends) decided it might be fun to put on a film festival featuring independent films.

“They were already making their own short films and were working in a movie theater,” current Festival Director Jesse Locks said. “It seemed a pretty natural fit to start showing their movies there.”

As one year turned to the next, more and more people came to see the films, quickly selling out the small, 65-seat theater. When recent graduate of film studies and Nevada City native David Nicholson returned home and saw what was happening, he encouraged Graham and the others involved to expand their horizons. Before long, the friends decided to open the festival up to other filmmakers and added more venues, which made the move from a film festival for and by filmmakers to the highly regarded international film festival it is today.

Another Nevada City native who had returned home and a friend of the founders, Locks joined the team a few years later.

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“We opened up submissions internationally and that was when things made a huge leap,” she said. “We got real sponsorships from ‘real sponsors’ and it just catapulted us into a whole other game.”

They quickly moved into more venues including the Nevada Theatre and the Miners’ Foundry, and the festival began to take shape.

In 2010, Locks took over as Festival Director.

“We began bringing more filmmakers into the community and had more outreach projects,” she said.

A few years after that, the festival hit the national scene.

“That’s when we started to have filmmakers who had originally come to the festival who started breaking out and started making major films and were recognized by other film festivals,” Locks said. “That is when we were named one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by MovieMaker magazine, so that has definitely had quite a bit of an impact and a residual effect on the film festival.”

The full MovieMaker designation clarifies the point to “the 50 top film Festivals worth the entry fee for filmmakers,” which Locks explained is a seal of approval from filmmakers.

“It’s a really big deal,” she said. “Filmmakers submit to the festival and often pay a fee and we charge a fee, so for an independent filmmaker to give their money is a big deal. It is quite an honor for us to have that for the second year, it’s pretty cool.”

This year the festival received over 900 submissions and viewed another 100 films that are showing and winning at other festivals before putting together the schedule. One hundred short and feature length films covering drama, documentary, animation, and comedy genres made the cut.

Locks encourages everyone to attend.

“Come and know that you are going to find something and see something that is just going to blow your mind and it’s going to stay with you until you come back to the film festival,” she said. “Be willing to take chances. Don’t feel confined to movies that only have movie stars, but let the stories really speak for themselves.”

An unexpectedly poignant screening of the 50th Anniversary of “Easy Rider” opens the Festival Friday night at the Nevada Theatre. Peter Fonda, who starred and co-wrote the 1969 Academy Award Nominated film (for best screenplay), died Aug. 16 at his home in Los Angeles. Even prior to hearing this news, Locks impressed the importance of the film, saying it was “Easy Rider” that ushered in the new Hollywood era of filmmaking.

“It is not by luck that we are showing that film,” she said. “When we go about picking the movies, we really think about what will resonate with our community and the people who will come out and watch movies. We always try and show a classic film. A lot of times, these films are being restored. The color is better, the sound is better, and it’s really kind of exciting to bring it back and put it up on a big screen. My parents haven’t seen ‘Easy Rider’ since they saw it in 1969 on a big screen, so they get to see it again. For me, I have never seen it on a big screen, so that’s really exciting for folks to have the opportunity to see that.”

Celebrity photographer Timothy White will be on hand showing photographs and telling stories of motorcycle culture, having shot many Hollywood celebrities on their bikes.

About 50 of the filmmakers will be on site and will take part in a question and answer period after the screenings.

The festival runs Aug. 23-30 and will include film, workshops, receptions and culminates with the popular “Best of the Fest” on Aug. 30 at Pioneer Park.

Locks credits her team, including Onyx Theatre owner and one of the festival founders, Jeff Clark, with putting together a remarkable event each year and says at the core is a deep respect for what people do with filmmaking.

“It’s a hard thing to do,” she said. “It costs a lot of money. The cards are stacked against you in every way possible, so if there any way that we can create a more supportive environment that encourages people to take those risks and chances to tell stories that don’t necessarily get told, then we are totally committed to that.”


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

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