The 18th season of the Anchorage International Film Festival is in full swing. The 10-day event, which began on Nov. 30 and will continue until Dec. 9, features hundreds of films made from a variety of filmmakers in Alaska, the U.S. and from outside the nation.
Films were submitted over the summer to categories of narrative feature, feature-length documentary, animation, made in Alaska, shorts and short documentaries. Over 600 submissions were viewed this year, with around 150 making the final cut. The films were then scheduled across the 10 days at different venues, including the Anchorage Museum, the Beartooth Theatre Pub & Grill, the Z. J. Loussac Public Library and the Alaska Experience Theatre.
Samona Norombaba, program director of the festival, aids in the strategic scheduling of the films. For her, the film festival is a way for people to get their unique stories out there.
“One of the reasons I love Alaska is that it’s full of storytellers and all these weird characters. I just think there is so much potential here for film making or any way that people express themselves,” Norombaba said. “I feel super lucky to be a part of making this happen.”
Another aspect of the film festival is that the directors work hard to bring the filmmakers to Alaska to attend their own film screenings, as well as network with other filmmakers and explore Alaska.
“A benefit of the film festival versus just going to a movie is first off, you get to support local artists and the art community, and second, you get to interact with the filmmakers and ask questions about the film and get a more in-depth experience,” Norombaba said.
One large event within the festival is the fifth-annual After School Special: Weekend Edition, hosted by Alaska Teen Media Institute on Dec. 8 from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Anchorage Museum. This is the only event in the festival that is targeted exclusively at Alaska’s youth. Young adults age 21 and under had the opportunity to submit any genre of film under 10 minutes to be showcased at the event in the Anchorage Museum.
Although it is not a competitive event, John Kendall, media production mentor at Alaska Teen Media, sees the showcase as a great opportunity for young adults with a passion for film making.
“[Screening your film] really validates you as an artist. It can feel like the real deal, and that is a really empowering and important aspect of film making,” Kendall said. “When you’re young, having success in film making can feel like a distant reality, but this kind of affirmation can show you that you can do it.”
Daisy Carter, an intern for Alaska Teen Media, was impressed by last year’s After School Special, and submitted three short films this year.
“Last year, there was a lot of relatable and real films. You could tell the teens put their heart and soul into their films… they really spoke out to me,” Carter said.
At the end of the entire festival, a winner from each category is chosen, along with Best of Fest and Audience’s Choice awards. On Dec. 9, the last day of the event, a re-screening of a few of the winning films will take place.
Coming up soon in the schedule are four documentaries on Dec. 5, including “Exit Music” and “The Interpreters” in the Alaska Experience Theatre, and “Afghan Cycles” in the Beartooth Theatre Pub & Grill.
For a full schedule of the rest of the events in the festival, along with descriptions of each film, visit the Anchorage International Film Festival website. The majority of screenings cost around $10, but prices vary based on venue.