Movie lovers rejoice | Orcas Film Festival is back

The Orcas Island Film Festival will showcase the offbeat and the up-and-coming during its first in-person event since 2019.

“‘It’s actually a relief to feel we are taking steps towards a new normal. It’s really an exciting moment,” said Co-Director Donna Laslo.

The five-day festival is a scaled-down version of years past with 15 movies instead of 45. All films will be screened at the Sea View Theatre, which has a state-of-the-art Barko cinema projection system with full 7.1 Dolby surround sound. The festival runs Oct. 7-11.

Organizers have paid special attention to protecting moviegoers from the spread of COVID-19. All attendees must show proof of full vaccination. Masks will also be required for audiences inside the theatre. All staff and volunteers will be vaccinated and masked as well. The HVAC system at Sea View has been upgraded to the highest filtration system available and the theatre will be sanitized between screenings using a commercial disinfectant fogger.

“We are taking the most conservative approach,” Laslo said.

There will be no social gatherings or parties before or after film screenings. Viewers can enjoy virtual Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.

“There are amazing films, some of the best of the best from this season,” said Creative Director Jared Lovejoy. “In a normal year, a really dedicated person can only see around 15 films so there’s still enough film for the hardcore filmgoers to get excited about.”

Passholders will be able to choose and reserve specific seats in advance, online, once the schedule is announced in mid-September.

Regular festival passes are $190 and allow admission to all 15 screenings. Patron passes are $500 ($310 of this is a tax-deductible donation). Patron pass holders will have front-of-the-line service and will be able to choose their seats for all of their screenings two days before the general public once the schedule is announced. Individual Tickets will also be available a few days prior to the festival start dates based on availability and venue capacity restrictions. All sales are online at

“We’ve had a great response from the whole community. I think everyone would love to see us all get back to normal as fast as possible so even a festival that is a third the size of the regular festival helps us all feel like we’re moving in the right direction,” Lovejoy said.

The film festival crew has not been resting on their laurels since the pandemic hit. Laslo and other volunteers organized The Orcas Island Drive-In Cinema at Mt. Baker Farm, offering classic film showings during the summer. The festival also partnered with Orcas Center and the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce to present a July 4th laser show and community concert, also at the farm.

“We had already hosted outdoor movies in the park and it was just a few steps further to create a drive-in,” Laslo said. “It was something we knew could do to serve the community. Mt. Baker Farm owners Cheryl Jackson and Captain Barb were thrilled to have us use their land this way. In addition to films, we also hosted live music, The Graduation Film for the Class of 2020 and Matthew Laslo’s Magic show. I’ve always thought a Laser Light show might be a good alternative to fireworks. So when the 4th of July fireworks were canceled it was a great opportunity to try it out — and it was a huge success!”