Outdoor Movies Take Place at Gig Harbor Film Festival in Washington

It's been in the works for more than a year, and now it's finally here. The Gig Harbor Film Festival, the waterfront community's first event of its kind, opens with a full slate of public screenings today.

This year, the festival will host a special outdoor movie showing on the final night. The brainchild of a group of movie-loving private citizens, the festival will screen films through Saturday and will wrap up with an awards luncheon on Sunday.

Most of the films will be screened at the newly opened Galaxy Uptown 10 Theatre, 4649 Point Fosdick Drive N.W. On the festival's final night, a free outdoor cinema party will take place in Jerisich Park in downtown Gig Harbor.

It will begin at 4 p.m. and conclude with an 8:40 p.m. screening of a nature documentary, Sharkwater, which will be shown on a giant inflatable screen.

Documentaries make up a significant percentage of the festival's program, which also includes features from the U.S. and around the world and several collections of short films. Virtually all of the films have been shown at other festivals within the last few years and most have won awards, said Marty Thacker, the festival's board president. She said she and board vice president Paula Lillard chose films with an eye toward finding works that were tried and true: proven audience-pleasers that will help the festival gain a reputation as an event that programs high-quality fare.

A number of filmmakers, some from the Northwest, and one Hollywood star, Matthew Lillard, Paula Lillard's son, will attend the event. They will speak on panels and introduce and lead discussions of their films. In years to come, Thacker said the festival will strive to promote the work of promising young filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world. Originally conceived by former city council member Marilyn Orwel and Thacker early last year, the festival is intended to put Gig Harbor on the map as a Northwest cultural center.

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