Orcas Film Festival voted top 10 in the country

Every October, the island is energized by the arrival of movie producers and cinema lovers.

After being voted one of USA Today’s top 10 film festivals in the country this year, the 9th Annual Orcas Island Film Festival returns from Oct. 11-15 with a jam-packed edition of in-person screenings, parties, receptions and opportunities for filmmakers and film fans to mingle and converse.

“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished in these 10 years. We’ve got a small but very talented team. We are a small festival and island but have big films. We are so lucky to have this personal experience; you don’t at that at other festivals,” said co-director Donna Laslo.

A total of 39 feature films representing more than 20 countries will be presented as part of the line-up of award contenders many of which have made their debut at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, Locarno, Sarajevo, Venice, Telluride, Toronto, SXSW and more. Last year, the OIFF film selections garnered 27 Oscar nominations including 4 of the 5 Oscar nominations for Best International Feature and the Academy Award-winning film “Women Talking.”

“This year we have more jury and audience award-winning films from the world’s top film festivals than ever before along with a good number of laugh-out-loud comedies and crowd-pleasing favorites,” said Co-Director and Chief Curator + Board Member Carl Spence.

All passes have sold out but $15 advance individual tickets are available for most shows. Last-minute tickets will also be available at the door just prior to showtime for $20. Visit www.oifilmfest.org for more information and to sign up for OIFF News.

The festival opens with a special screening of “Jules” starring Ben Kingsley, Jane Curtain, and Harriet Sansom Harris. Director and islander Marc Turtletaub and actress Jade Quon will be in attendance.

Other highly anticipated films include “The boy and the Heron” directed by Japanese master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, which was the opening night selection of the Toronto International Film Festival; The Palm dÓr Cannes award-winning film “Anatomy of a Fall” directed by Justine Triet and starring Sandra Hüller; the mouthwatering gastromance film “The Taste of Others” starring Juliette Binoche; and Director Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” with Paul Giamatti. For full film descriptions, visit www.airtable.com/appJtph6l6DGPQrxq/shr2GEcBoBDpEYiqF

OIFF will present a $10,000 cash prize to a rising filmmaking talent as part of the 2nd annual Jean-Marc Vallée Vanguard Award for Achievement in Filmmaking, on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Sea View Theatre.

This award was created in 2023 to celebrate the late Vallée’s impact on the festival and on the world with his unforgettable filmmaking accomplishments. The award is underwritten by David Dottlich and Douglas Elwood.

This year’s winner is director Emily Atef. She has two strikingly different films in the festival: “More than Ever” “Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything.” Atef is a French-Iranian director born in Berlin. Her first feature film, “Molly’s Way,” won the Best Screenplay Award at the Munich Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, as well as several other awards. Her second feature film, “The Stranger in Me,” also received several awards and screened in the Critics’ Week section at Cannes. Atef’s film “3 Days in Quiberon” made its world premiere in the competition section of the Berlin International Film Festival and won seven Lolas at the German Film Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.

The Oddfellows Hall will be the hub for festival gatherings. Event company Asher & Olive will transform the space into “Club Paradiso,” a magical, theatrical environment that will sweep you away for an opening night Red Carpet Soiree followed by a Friday night speak-easy, music and dance event featuring DJ Bruce Pavitt (founder of Sub-Pop records). The Saturday night party is a Bollywood Disco with DJ Prashant and his dancers. Parties will be open to the public. Food vendors will be at all venues for hungry cinephiles to grab a bite between films.

“These parties are going to be an absolute blast,” Laslo said. “There will be film paraphernalia, mood lighting and conversation nooks — you will not recognize the Odd Fellows. I’m excited to have the island bustling again with film lovers from all over the world who come to enjoy our films and our little slice of heaven.”

A scene from “More than Ever” by director Emily Atef.

A scene from “More than Ever” by director Emily Atef.