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Nevada City Film Festival voted 3rd best in North America

John Orona
Staff Writer

Going on 20 years after it first started as a do-it-yourself project to showcase local artists, the Nevada City Film Festival has now beaten out the likes of South by Southwest and the Sundance Film Festival for a top three spot on USA Today’s Readers’ Choice poll for the Best Film Festival in North America.

“As a small festival in a village like Nevada City, it’s a real honor to be recognized nationally,” said Jeffrey Clark, festival cofounder and board president, in an email. “Visiting filmmakers often comment on how strong our programs are; and our beautiful (bordering on magical), historic location here in the California foothills has obviously helped make us a rising destination festival.”

The local festival was included among 20 across the continent selected by a panel of industry experts and USA Today editors. The public then voted on the final standings, which were released Friday.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival came in first in the contest, followed by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The Nevada City Film Festival was third.

“I wasn’t terribly surprised with the voting, but I was very, very surprised that we were included because there are so many amazing film festivals in the country,” Festival Director Jesse Locks said. “We were against folks like Santa Barbara and towns that have exponentially more people than us, so to be able to get that many votes is very special and speaks volumes of our audience and the people who love Nevada City and Grass Valley.”

According to Locks, the contest has already boosted interest in this year’s festival, which typically sees between 700 and 900 submissions.

“Since the contest was announced earlier this month, we’ve already seen an increase in film submissions and people inquiring about the festival,” Locks said. “We’ve probably received at least 400 submissions in our first round. We’re probably on track to see over 1,000 submissions.”

The Nevada City Film Festival will take place Aug. 28 to Sept. 4 this year, screening more than 100 films over a week throughout Nevada City and Grass Valley. Submissions will be open until May 1, and people who live in Nevada County and neighboring counties can submit with no fee.

“It’s definitely a badge of honor for sure,” Locks said. “It’s something to be really proud of because it puts our town on the map in the national landscape of arts and culture and film festivals, so that’s huge.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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