Music

Bellingham Music Film Festival

Watch and listen

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I am not what you’d call an especially creative person. I can string together some sentences, but I’m pretty confident there’s no Great American Novel inside me just dying to get out. To put a finer point on it, what I really lack isn’t so much creativity as it is vision. Dreaming up something original in my brain and then manifesting it in the real world is not my particular bailiwick.

However, I believe my dearth of vision to be one reason I love music and movies so much. Not only am I incapable of writing either a song or a script, but I also don’t have the ability to comprehend how other people do it. That last part is purposeful, as I don’t necessarily want to gain that understanding. To me, watching a movie or going to a show is like seeing sorcery in action. And a thing can only be magic as long as we never learn the trick behind it. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m perfectly fine not paying attention to the man behind the curtain.

It stands to reason that the Bellingham Music Film Festival, which takes place April 5-7, would hit a real sweet spot for me, existing as it does in the Venn diagram of my most loved entertainment interests. Additionally, it takes place at two of my favorite places, the Pickford Film Center (where I am a longtime projectionist) and Make.Shift, with an extra-special cameo by the Temple Bar as well.

Now in its third year, the BMFF is a totally local festival that showcases music-focused films from all over the world. Submissions were solicited several months ago, and a panel of judges—which is comprised of distinguished folks from both the music and film realms—spent countless hours painstakingly watching and culling some 300 films from 20 countries, whittling that number down to 63 of the very best.

But movies alone—even music-themed ones—do not a music film festival make. Bands are required to complete this particular entertainment picture, and the BMFF has those going for it as well. Even better, the whole thing is set up with easy watching and listening in mind.

The opening-night festivities will happen Thurs., April 5 at the Pickford, where the feature-length film Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami will have its Pacific Northwest premiere. It will be preceded by three short films that come with high ratings from BMFF judges. After that, the proceedings will move to the Temple Bar, where de facto house band Bar Tabac will provide an original soundtrack for a collection of silent-film previews, and ’50s- and ’60s-era trailers with iconic music will be shown.

Friday night is focused squarely on Make.Shift, where a diverse program of music videos will be on rotation. Look for local talent in videos featuring Noisy Waters, Lucas Hicks, the Bad Tenants, Brendan Labotz and Kimberly Ross, and the Shows. Speaking of the Shows, they’ll end the night with a live performance, meaning you can see them on both stage and screen all in the same evening.

With Saturday’s lineup at the Pickford comes a change in the traditional BMFF format. The movies will be split into different programs—Animation Showcase (2pm), Music Videos and Shorts (3pm), Regional Showcase (4pm), International Showcase (5pm), and the all-important Best in Show (6pm)—but instead of having to purchase a ticket to each, $5 buys you the whole day’s worth of screenings, and you’re welcome to wander in and out as you please and your schedule allows. The grand finale of this music and movie kit and kaboodle will take place at Make.Shift, where Crooked Neighbours, Artemis Moon, Cashing In Karma, and McGee and the Lost Hope will play and the Racket’s Amy Gibson will provide expertly mixed beverages. Whatever proceeds might result from a festival comprised of events that are either dirt cheap or free will be shared between the Pickford and Make.Shift.

I’d like to think that I’ll attend this year’s BMFF and my creative floodgates will open and I’ll suddenly be drowning in a surplus of vision. I’m not holding my breath, though. In the meantime, I’ll be perfectly happy to bask in the abundant magic made by others.

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