2nd annual Tahoe Film Festival upping its game with several big-name movies | SierraSun.com

2nd annual Tahoe Film Festival upping its game with several big-name movies

Tim Hauserman | Special to the Sun

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — The second annual Tahoe Film Festival is set for December 1-4, with plenty of top-tier films — including the much-ballyhooed, Martin Scorsese-produced "Before the Flood" — set to screen at theaters in Incline Village and at the Village at Northstar.

The festival, which supports the nonprofit Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships (SWEP), has a strong focus on films about the environment, but it also presents award winning independent films covering a wide range of topics.

The festival is a rare opportunity for Tahoe locals and visitors to see unique films that usually are not available to be screened at the lake.

Twenty-three full length films will be shown over the four days of the festival, beginning with a screening of "Certain Women," starring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern. This film is the story of several women facing personal and professional crossroads. It won Best Film at the London Festival.

"Before the Flood," the environmental documentary that features Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk and others, is also an important film that tells a story about climate change.

Another highlight will be "When Two Worlds Collide," a Sundance Film Festival Award Winner about the battle between indigenous people from the Amazon and the President of Peru.

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Long time Lake Tahoe home-owner Leonard Nimoy — known in the popular word a Star Trek's Spock, before he died in February 2015 — will be profiled at the festival in a movie by his son, Adam Nimoy, entitled "For the love of Spock."

"The Last Laugh" is a documentary that features famous Jewish comedians, including Mel Brooks and Sarah Silverman, discussing why they joke about the World War II-era genocide of their own people.

And "A Man Called Ove" is a funny and heartwarming story from Sweden that has won the Audience Award at several festivals.

'WE ARE REALLY EXCITED'

Tahoe Film Festival Director Robert Roussel is proud not only of the lineup of films that will be presented, but that a number of directors and actors from the films will be at the festival to talk about their craft.

Tom Donahue directed two of the films at the festival and will be present to discuss both "Thank You For Your Service" about mental illness in the military, and "Casting By" about the life of, fittingly, a casting director.

Suzanne Wilkins, SWEP Managing Director for the Tahoe Film Festival, said Roussel contacted SWEP after last year's inaugural festival, saying he had been interested in doing a festival at Tahoe for years.

In addition to his love of film festivals and Lake Tahoe, Roussel's main reason for taking on the festival was because, simply, "I think SWEP is a spectacular organization."

"He offered to help us out," Wilkins added. "We raised money through sponsors, and he is very experienced and has a lot of great connections and was able to get these amazing films. We are really excited with the program."

In addition to the four evenings of films, the festival includes the SWEP Gala on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Northstar California. Gala attendees choose to attend either "Antarctic: Ice & Sky" (the story of Claude Lorius' 22 trips to the bottom of the earth) or "Before the Flood," which will both be screened at the Northstar Cinemas at 4 p.m.

Following the films, complimentary appetizers and beverages will be served at the Copper Lane Café, next to the theater, from 6-9 p.m. A silent auction is part of the night's events. The ticket price of $50 includes the film and gala event, and all the proceeds go to SWEP.

FILMS FOR A GREAT CAUSE

The festival kicks off with the Opening Film Party on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach at 8:30 p.m., which is free to all who hold tickets for "Certain Women," which screens at 6 p.m. at the Incline Village Cinema.

Then, on Friday, Dec. 2, the Film Premier Party takes place at the Event Center at 9:30 p.m., which is free to all ticket holders for "You're Killing Me Susanna," which screens at the Incline Cinema at 8 p.m. Both parties include appetizers and beverages donated by local restaurants.

SWEP partners with teachers and community organizations to bring messages of conservation and environmental education to the classroom. They also bring kids into direct contact with the local watersheds where they learn about science and how to protect the environment.

SWEP's Tahoe Basin Watershed Education Summit takes high schoolers out to Blackwood Canyon to work for several days with the Forest Service doing hands on research with science professionals.

Students have cited this experience with SWEP as why they major in environmental science in college. SWEP is also known for the annual Trashion Show at Earth Day every year in Squaw Valley, where students create clothing by recycling the things we throw away.

SWEP Executive Director Missy Mohler says that the Tahoe Film Festival is a perfect fit for the organization because it combines art and the environment, which is the focus of many of their programs with students. She added that putting on a festival is also about partnership and service, two key components to how SWEP operates.

For more information on SWEP go to 4swep.org.

Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He may be reached at writeonrex@yahoo.com.

Full screening details

Tickets for individual films are $12 and are available online or at the box office the day of the event. Go to tahoefilmfest.org for all the details on the films and scheduled times.

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