The Central Michigan International Film Festival is returning to Mt. Pleasant next month, promising a wide range of independent films, filmmaker Q&As, free movies for families, and even a hands-on filmmaking program for local high schoolers.
The 17th annual festival, held Feb. 5-9 at four locations in Mt. Pleasant, will feature five jam-packed days of indie films made around the globe and some right here in Michigan, says Dr. Patty Williamson, director of the festival and an associate professor at Central Michigan University’s School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts.
While the event has always been a hit with college students and movie buffs, this year’s festival aims to draw in even more people from the community.
“We’re really trying to make the festival more of an event that’s going to be both for CMU and the Mt. Pleasant area, with the local community working together to put on an event that will hopefully be a cultural and economic driver for the whole area,” she says.
As part of that effort, many films will be scheduled at the Broadway Theatre – a location that was used previously but not for the past few years. The festival’s other three locations, all on campus at CMU, are Moore Hall, the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium, and The Platform.
“We’re really excited that we’re going to be bringing films downtown again,” Williamson says.
Many movie screenings will have filmmakers in attendance for Q&As, which adds to the festival’s appeal.
“We don’t get a lot of independent films here in the middle of Michigan,” she says. “Part of the value a film festival brings is that you do get to interact with these creative artists and film professionals.”
“We’re really trying to make the festival more of an event that’s going to be both for CMU and the Mt. Pleasant area, with the local community working together to put on an event that will hopefully be a cultural and economic driver for the whole area."
Another way the festival will reach out to the community is through the first-ever CMIFF Film School on Feb. 8, open to eighth-graders and high schoolers.
“Students can come and have a full day of learning about the elements of filmmaking, screenwriting, video editing, audio for film, and an animation workshop,” she says, adding that the $25 cost (attendees must pre-register) also includes a festival pass. “If the students want to watch some movies while they’re here, they get to do that on top of it.”
Another new element is the Filmmaker Party on Feb. 7, Williamson notes.
“It gives people a chance to mingle with some of our visiting filmmakers, our sponsors, people who run the festival, and the movie-goers who just love movies,” she says. “It’s just a chance for everyone to come together and celebrate the festival and the fact that we have so many great movies in town over five days.”
The Central Michigan International Film Festival is a non-profit effort that relies on support from local businesses, organizations and donors, including the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office and Celebration Cinema. The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation, another sustaining sponsor, provided the festival with a grant this year to fund free, family-friendly movies – including Pattington at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 and A League of Their Own at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 9.
“Each of the five days, we’re offering one free feature film that’s family-friendly,” Williamson says.
For a full schedule of films and events, to register for the film school program, or to sign up to volunteer, visit cmfilmfest.com.