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Nevada City Film Festival successfully evolves

In 2001 I made a short film called “Mike vs. The Machine.” It was an absurdist comedy about a robot that drew a line on the sidewalk in chalk and wouldn’t let people cross it. I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s how the Nevada City Film Festival came to be.

I had my film and nowhere to show it; it sat there, destined never to be seen but by an audience of family and friends. Then a funny thing happened. I started talking to friends in our community and it turned out they had films, too! It was amazing. Almost every other conversation I had at a bar or a coffee shop turned into “Hey, I’ve got a film too, let’s show them somewhere!” I began to discover that Nevada County was secretly harboring a community of filmmakers.



Around this same time, my friend Jeffrey Clark and I had purchased and reopened The Magic Theatre in Nevada City. So now we had a venue, and the first annual Nevada City Film Festival was born. In 2001, during the Fourth of July weekend, we showed 10 short films, all made locally and ranging from documentary to comedy.

The result could only be described as “electric.” We had four sold-out shows with people lined out the door to get in, and the energy at the screenings was incredible. When we brought audiences and filmmakers together, they really seemed to feed off of each other, and it created an atmosphere of excitement and exchange that I believe is what art is really about.




Year after year, word spread and our audiences got bigger. In 2005 we became an international film festival. Now we were bringing both local filmmakers and filmmakers from around the world together and introducing them to our wonderful community. It was an amazing thing to watch – audiences were laughing, crying and truly being affected by these independent films. Filmmakers kept telling us, “This is the best film festival I have ever been to!”

It’s funny to look back at where we began and to see how much this event has grown. This year’s 7th Annual Nevada City Film Festival (Aug. 16-19) will feature 30 films from around the world (both shorts and features) that will be screened at four historic locations throughout Nevada City, including the Magic Theatre, the Nevada Theatre, Miners Foundry and the National Hotel. We have judges from Rolling Stone magazine, SF Weekly and the San Francisco Chronicle, and more than 40 filmmakers have confirmed they will join us for the weekend to answer questions following the showing of their films.

The festival will include informative panels with some of the most exciting filmmakers working today. There will also be two concert after-parties at Miners Foundry, co-produced by Nevada City Music Events.

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Jason Graham works as the manager of The Magic Theatre in Nevada City and is the director of The Nevada City Film Festival. He can’t believe that making a movie about a weird robot could lead to all this.

The film festival needs additional funds with which to produce such a large event, so you are invited to attend a fundraiser screening of the Elvis Presley film, “Viva Las Vegas,” on Monday, Aug. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at The Magic Theatre, 107 Argall Way, Nevada City.

“Warner Home Video has given us a sneak peak of their Elvis DVD that they plan to release in September brand new, beautifully restored,” says Festival Director Jason Graham.

Admission is a $20 donation. Raffle items, hors d’oeuvres and beverages are included in that.

Call Graham at (530) 265-8034 for more information.


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