The festival is young—it’s only in its second year—but offers something that a lot of Washington State’s surrounding film fests don’t: the 25 films are all directed by women. From Lynn Shelton’s newest feature Outside In to Fiona Tan’s documentary Ascent, this intersectional festival aims to highlight the cinematic contributions made by female-identifying filmmakers from across the globe.
Cascadia itself started in 2015, after partnering with Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival and selecting eight documentary films for Bellingham’s infamous Doctober film festival. They returned to Doctober again in 2016, this time with a new set of female-directed documentaries and a handful of workshops. After two years of success, Cascadia branched out and started a film festival of their own.
Local institutions and organizations help put on the Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival, such as the Pickford Film Center, the local independent theater downtown that also presents Doctober, as well as Western Washington University and the Whatcom Museum. These venues allow Cascadia to screen their films, host Q&A’s with visiting filmmakers, and lead panels on topics like editing documentary films and mentorship in the entertainment business.
This year, Cascadia snagged former Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs as their guest of honor. Isaacs, who began her career in 1977, will take part in the celebration of women in film by discussing her own career, specifically, “her behind-the-scene experiences as a public relations and marketing director for major motion pictures and as Academy President with her personal reflections about women, African Americans, and power in the American and international film industry.” The conversation is free and open to the public, so there’s no reason not to spend a night hearing about one woman’s journey to the top.
The festival is much more than its big names, too. Along with showcasing women in film, Cascadia’s intent is to educate and inspire female filmmakers as well as promote the Pacific Northwest as a cinematic hub. The versatile festival curates their 25 films into categories like Animated Short Film, Narrative Fiction Films, and the Local and Indigenous Film Program. They also provide educational workshops year-round.
With so much to offer, the Cascadia International Film Festival is a guaranteed film enthusiast pleaser.