Truth behind the mayor race | Guest column

Heidi Siegmund Cuda, whose short film “Rigged! A Tail of Corruption” debuts at the Orcas Island Film Festival Oct. 6, wrote the following piece. She is one of three OIFF directors to win a grant to make a film on the San Juan Islands. To vote for your favorite, visit

Defamed! Defrauded! Deluded!

These headlines wake me up from an unsound sleep, as I toss and turn at 4 a.m., pondering what I thought was gonna be a big deal for a gal like me.

I’d won a major award! As a female director in the land of Narcissistas and Bros (Los Angeles), it’s uncommon. I may as well be a unicorn. I tried to feel good about it, but I was uneasy. I’ve been an investigative producer for 30 years, so I’m always peering around dark corners.

It’s an island, I thought, not Beverly Hills. How depraved could it be?

Was it a setup? Or was I just lucky?

Was my major award a ploy by the Russians? No! The oligarchs know I can recite Pasternak verbate.

But I still had an uneasy feeling that, “Rigged! A Tail of Corruption,” made possible by a director’s grant from the Orcas Island Film Festival, might have been built on chicanery, where cows aren’t just any hoofer-heffers and newts have really sketchy back stories. Suffice it say, what I thought was gonna be a walk in the park, turned into a perp walk with legs.

“Things are rigged, elections can be bought,” says Martin Lund, owner of the blue blood mongrel, Winston, a former mayoral candidate.

As I listened to Lund tell me off the record, allegedly and by his own admission, about the cutthroat shenanigans of the annual Eastsound “Honorary Mayor’s Race,” I thought, “Can’t I get a break from investigating, like ever?”

Well, I shot what I could, and did what I could to shed light on the truth of this real fake corruption, still not knowing if I’d been played.

And then I watched the two other short films by the OIFF award-winning directors. I started with my teenage competition Tashi Litch’s film, “It Takes an Island,” and aghast! I saw Lund again! But this time, it turns out, he’s a famous jazz musician. And then there’s the other short film grant winner, “Falling Into Place,” by Einar Johnson and Antonella Fragapane, a story so beautifully told, I now wasn’t sure who to vote for. Flummoxed, fate just kept on happening.

I may never know the truth of the mayoral racket, but at least we learned one thing: if you have enough clams, the world is your oyster.