Bellingham’s Pickford Film Center (PFC) has been the place for independent film since it opened with a single small screen (now called PFC’s Limelight) in 1998. Since then this non-profit organization has focused on providing the community with the highest quality movie-going experience possible at an affordable price, while working to foster arts education and visual literacy. Through daily film screenings, festivals, and education programs, its easy to plan a day-, weekend-, week-, or month-long visit any time of the year.
February’s Guerilla Film Project
One component of PFC’s expanding education programs, The Guerilla Film Project is a competition over President’s Day weekend where teams of 4 to 6 high school students write, shoot, and edit a 3-minute film in less than 65 hours based on a surprise theme and props. Up to 25 student teams from throughout the Pacific Northwest participate each year. The festival concludes with a screening and celebration of the budding filmmakers.
Children’s Film Festival in March
This festival of fun showcases innovative films from around the globe with animation, live action, shorts, and features. Their works of exhilarating imagination and creativity made just for kids are conveniently scheduled to accommodate busy families. Kids especially love the ice-cream social and interactive art projects in the lobby. To further its education focus, PFC also offers weekday screenings exclusively for classrooms, curated thematically and by age group for preschools and Kindergarten up through elementary school.
Summer’s Rooftop Cinema at the Parkade
This outdoor summer film series in downtown Bellingham runs on Friday nights in July and August. The experience recalls the classic days of the drive-in because films are screened outdoors, just after you watch the sun set over beautiful Bellingham Bay. Each is shown on a large screen on the rooftop of the Parkade at 1300 Commercial Street above four floors of free parking. Although the events are all ages, screenings begin after dusk and are generally PG-13 and R-rated cult classic films in sync with Bellingham’s eclectic subdued style. You can show up early to lay your blanket in the best spot while enjoying a beer garden sponsored by local brewers, plus live music and circus entertainment, food trucks, and other activities. Each film is chosen and hosted by PFC.
Doctober During all of October
Each October since 2008, PFC has celebrated the art of documentary filmmaking with their curated Doctober film festival. Each year they share more than 50 films throughout the month of October by filmmakers from all over the globe. Subjects range widely, from environmental and human rights issues throughout the world to arts and music. A few are presented in partnership with Whatcom County organizations that aim to raise awareness and inform local audiences. Many will offer pre-screening receptions or be followed by a panel discussion, local expert question and answer sessions, and filmmaker visits afterward to extend the film’s impact.
Other Festivals Throughout the Year
At least 10 other local film festivals and events are curated by other area organizations throughout the year. PFC supports these groups by providing a quality screening location and meeting place, often at little or no cost. They also host and promote events through their web site, Facebook, and weekly email newsletters.
Bellingham Film Year Round
Bellingham Film connects and fosters the growth of all Bellingham’s film-related community, from professional video production companies to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) filmmakers. The group’s simple mission is to provide networking, education, and development opportunities that will create living-wage film-related jobs for actors, writers, producers, directors, and crew in Whatcom and Skagit County. The group is also encouraging the use of this area as a film location at the indie, national, and international level.
Bellingham Film organizes a number of events in collaboration with PFC. Mixers held every other month offer networking and education opportunities. Their annual Bellingham Commercial Awards each December recognizes locally-made commercial film work and 2-Day Flick encourages the boldness of guerrilla-style filmmaking. Filmmakers from across the Pacific Northwest as well as experienced New York and L.A. transplants attend their events that are open to the public.
Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival (BHRFF) in February
BHRFF supports independent filmmakers from around the world while fostering dialogue and promoting action. The festival is shown at many Whatcom County locations including PFC. In 2015, about 1500 attendees viewed 24 films over the one week of screenings. For fifteen years, volunteer committee members have selected scores of insightful and moving films they hope will encourage the community to explore and engage with critical issues. Films are followed by facilitated discussion, some led by the filmmakers themselves. BHRFF received a 2015 Mayor’s Arts Award and was listed as one of nine”Film Festivals That Are Making A Difference” in the U.S. Amnesty International USA’s local Group 270 also received an award for its financial and volunteer support of BHRFF. The festival accepts submissions mid-August through mid-October.
Bellingham Music Film Festival in April
The Bellingham Music Film Festival is a collaborative effort between Western Washington University‘s New Media Design, the Make.Shift Art Space, and PFC to share the diversity of music through the medium of film. The festival features a collection of music videos, documentaries, and narrative pieces by regional, national, and student filmmakers. The fun is augmented by live performances and receptions with filmmakers, performers, and viewers alike. In 2016, approximately 40% of attendees were from out of town. Check their Facebook Page for the latest details.
Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival in the Spring
This new curated three-day film festival focuses on supporting female Pacific Northwest filmmakers. Each spring it will consist of films, social events, workshops, industry panels, and educational events.
Bleedingham in October
Bellingham’s an annual 2-day opens with a horror-focused comic convention (comic-con). Costumes, prizes, and many Pacific Northwest vendors are highlights. The con is followed by a horror horror film festival that provides Pacific Northwest filmmakers an opportunity to share their spookiest while receiving accolades from their peers, as well as gain critical feedback from a panel of judges chosen for their experience in horror, filmmaking, and digital storytelling. Each short horror films are 12 minutes or less and compete for a $500 grand prize in addition to accolades based on the judge’s scores and feedback. Its a great way to celebrate Halloween over a weekend.
Public screenings, festivals, and educational events are augmented by partnerships with local business, community organizations, and sometimes the filmmakers themselves. No matter what time of year or day of the week, PFC offers both local and global quality independent film for all ages.