Calling all filmmakers and artists. The Ely Film, Art, and Music Festival is scheduled for March 11 through 17 with most activities being held at the Central Theatre in downtown Ely Nevada. Festival Chairman Shadrach Robertson and his fellow committee members have packed the seven-day schedule with movies, contests, gatherings, contests, and music along with private screenings for VIP ticket holders.
The Ely Film Festival is in its third year, which began in March 2020 on the very weekend that COVID caused everything to be shut down, dampening the festivities that year and to some extent again this year. “But,” Robertson said, “our mantra for 2022 is the third time's a charm. The event is being put on through the efforts of a great many people in the community and beyond, plus the ten committee members.” Robertson discussed the film festival's beginnings, which he said was launched by the White Pine Main Street group working in concert with the White Pine County Tour and Recreation Board.
Robertson described the legacy of films that have been filmed in Ely over the past 100 years, the first one being “The Covered Wagon,” considered one of the best westerns ever made. In 1983, the Bristlecone Film Committee was formed to market the town of Ely and surrounding White Pine County as a prime film setting for major motion pictures. “Gun Crazy,” the 1992 Drew Barrymore movie was filmed in Ely, and as a result of those efforts, Hollywood studios were engaged in staging their films there. Robertson went on to say, “The Ely Film Festival continues the forward vision of that committee. There have been so many films created in White Pine that they are part of our history, like time capsules.” Films such as “Ponderoso Victoria,” a Spanish film originating in Mexico, and “The Great Darkened Days,” a French film originating in Canada, demonstrate Ely's attraction to the international film industry as a prime location.
When the film festival began in 2020, Robertson said only two films were screened. This year, 16 films will be screened with two shown as feature films. In addition, festival attendees will be able to participate in “panel discussions with some of the filmmakers to enhance their cinematic experiences.” The films being shown from Friday through Sunday were all filmed in White Pine or Ely, such as Friday's feature film, “Horror in The High Desert,” written by local filmmaker Dutch Marich who after graduating from White Pine County High School, worked as a writer in Los Angeles and has completed distribution deals with Hollywood studios.
There will be a Short Film contest with three age categories: under 12 years old, 13 to 18 years old, and over 18. An art contest, new for 2022, will be held for original artwork done in any medium, ranging from digital to paintings to wood carvings - anything goes. One of the awards being given in the Short Films contest is the First Lady's Choice Award, and that award ceremony will be held on Saturday afternoon in the theater. The award ceremony for the art contest will be held on Saturday evening at the Art Bank.
The Central Theatre, located at 145 W 15th Street, will be the hub for all planned activities except one. On Saturday the Art Bank Gallery Opening and Nevada Art Awards will be held at the Art Bank, located at 399 Aultman Street, with live music provided. The Central Theatre is a historic 700-plus seat theater constructed in 1940 offering live entertainment and first-run movies. The Art Bank is an art gallery that features a permanent collection, in addition to other exhibits and shows on a regular basis.
Robertson refers to the film festival committee as a “Tour de force. The ten people on the committee have really been committed to the festival over the course of their three years together, which has allowed me to push the festival boundaries from what has been done in the past to what can be done now and in the future. We work closely with the Nevada Film Office to advocate for production companies coming to Ely, and we're trying to pick up where the Bristlecone Film Committee left off. Being supported by this power group of people that come from all over the community has really created a worthwhile event that also gives back to the community. For example, the concert scheduled for Sunday will benefit a five-year-old child diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.”
Robertson moved to Ely from Oahu, Hawaii when he was younger, and speaks highly of Ely's community spirit and close-knit nature of the people there. “Our community really comes together in a clutch, and we need more of that in the world. The festival provides an opportunity for people to come together to enjoy a movie or live concert, share some popcorn and each other's company.”
Additional details, the schedule of events, and ticketing information about the Ely Film Festival can all be found on the festival's website, https://www.elyfilmfestival.com/