Fresh Coast Film Festival to play across town

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Isabelle Tavares

Those who attend the fourth annual Fresh Coast Film Fest (FCFF) won’t be greeted with a fancy red carpet. But if there was a carpet, it would be hunter orange and muddy, FCFF Co-Founder Bugsy Sailor said. The festival stays true to its identity: showcasing the films that illustrate what the outdoor lifestyle in the Great Lakes Region has to offer.

The FCFF offers over 120 documentary-style films and nine outdoor tours starting Thursday, Oct. 17 until Sunday, Oct. 20 at eight venues across Marquette. Zooming out from this year’s theme of sustainability and climate, the FCFF highlights the larger narrative of Great Lakes storytelling. 

“Michigan is often seen as flyover territory to get out West, but we want to make the point that you can do just about anything in the Midwest,” Sailor said. “You can go for an awesome hike or paddle in the same day and get the full four seasons. It’s not just about watching films, it’s about getting out to see Marquette, to go for a hike or see Superior.”

And this is exactly what the outdoor tours encourage. Inspiration is another pillar of the FCFF, and Sailor said the festivals’ good storytelling inspires anyone—abilities or experience aside—to get exploring in the outdoors. This year will be senior nursing major Abby Laurencelle’s third time attending.

“I love it. It’s such a unique way to perpetuate film and sports and Marquette. Being an outdoor based environment, it’s such a beautiful way to bring the community together,” Laurencelle said. “It’s such a stoke. It creates this environment that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, what your limitations are, what your ability is—get outside and have fun.”

Sailor, one of the people behind the magic, said he hopes to make you cry, laugh and feel. The Middle English translation of inspiration is divine guidance, so maybe these films are telling a story that’s larger than a 4-by-3 movie screen. 

“I want to make no small impact on this community. I’m just a small part of the festival but Fresh Coast is what made me feel like I belong here and I can make a community impact through this work,” Sailor said. 

The FCFF grows each year and the number of volunteers involved has been an incredible amount, Sailor said. In addition, family programming has expanded and they’re doing more partnerships with NMU students with the creation of an internship program. This sustained scholarship allows Wildcats to lead outdoor tours and host a Q&A for filmmakers on campus. 

Sailor said they have “only scratched the surface of the type of opportunities” that they can come up with.

A few of the sponsors include NMU, Blackrocks Brewery, the Ore Dock Brewing Co., Travel Marquette, The Delft and Downwind Sports. Sailor said the partnership with NMU has been incredible, because the FCFF showcases what Marquette has to offer to future or new students and in turn, NMU provides a talent pool. Four of the 120 films this year were created by NMU students or alum, and Sailor said the film selection committee is “loose on requirements.”

Staying true to its name, about 50% of the content is from the Great Lakes region, or directed or produced from someone in the region. The FCFF is “so happy” to showcase an NMU student film as a part of their culture of good storytelling through filmmaking, Sailor added.

Films will be shown at Ampersand Coworking, Blackrocks Brewery, Kaufman Auditorium, Marquette Commons, Masonic Building, Ore Dock Brewing Co., Peter White Public Library, Spring Street Parking Lot and the Delft Bistro. Tickets can be found online at freshcoastfilmfest.com or at Ampersand Coworking located at 132 W. Washington St. 

“The idea of a film fest is a little foreign to people. So even if you’re not into the outdoors, the stories are often so good that it doesn’t matter. My parents come each year and they’re not into action sports,” Sailor said. “So when I see them connect with a film that’s outside of their world, that’s so cool.”

One can have all the fancy filmmaking gear in the world, but at the end of the day, all that’s needed is a good story, he said. As the FCFF identity evolves, Sailor strives for approachability to be weaved into that. So this weekend, keep that in mind while strutting down that fictional muddy, hunter orange carpet.