April 21, 2022

Cheryl Crooks, Executive Director
CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival
(360) 543-0149

Trailblazing Director Martha Coolidge Named CASCADIA’s 2022 Honored Guest 1st Woman President of Directors Guild of America

One of Hollywood’s most prolific and renowned women film directors, Martha Coolidge, is coming to Bellingham as the honored guest of the 2022 CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival.

Coolidge, whose 40-year career includes 52 film and television directing credits, will take part in a ticketed private reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, May 13 at the Whatcom Museum of Art. After the reception, the celebration moves to the Walton Theater at Mount Baker Theater, where Coolidge will discuss her career and challenges facing women directors during a 30- minute conversation (7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) conducted by Claudia Puig, CASCADIA’s program director and the current president of the Los Angelis Film Critics Association. That conversation will be followed by an 8 p.m. showing of Coolidge’s latest film, “I’ll Find You,” which features two Polish musicians, a Catholic opera singer and a Jewish violin virtuoso, torn apart by the German invasion of Poland during World War II. Tickets for the reception, conversation and film are available for purchase from the Mount Baker Theatre starting in early April. The cost is $75 for the entire Honored Guest Evening and $25 to attend the conversation and film only. Tickets available here.

The 2022 CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival, which runs from March 12-15, also features a showing of Coolidge’s 1983 cult classic, “Valley Girl,” featuring Nicolas Cage (in his first starring role) and Deborah Foreman in a romantic comedy between a punk rocker and a wealthy mallrat. The in-person festival at the Pickford Film Festival in the Bellingham Downtown Arts District will be followed by a special online version of the festival May 19-30.

This year’s festival includes a slate of 32 films from a dozen countries. Passes and tickets go on sale in early April. Visit for details. Seats are limited and advanced reservations are required. Proof of Covid vaccination also is required.

In the early 80s, Coolidge opened the door for women to direct Hollywood blockbusters with big budgets and rising stars. Her directing credits include “Real Genius” with a young Val Kilmer, “Rambling Rose” with Laura Dern and Robert Duvall, and “Angie” featuring Geena Davis and James Gandolfini. Coolidge’s television credits include “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” which won an Emmy for lead actress Halle Berry.

Before moving to Hollywood, Coolidge became the first film major at Rhode Island School of Design, earned an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts and studied acting with the likes of Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Joanne Baron. She directed award-winning documentaries in New York City and helped found the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and the Independent Filmmaker Project, which was recently rebranded as The Gotham Film & Media Institute.

Over the course of her career, Coolidge has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In 1998, she became only the second woman to receive the prestigious Robert Aldrich Award from the Directors’ Guild of America. Four years later, she was elected the Guild’s first woman president.

Despite her success, Coolidge has lived through the challenges and limitations of being a woman director in the film industry.

“Though female directors are now a small part of the industry, we are an invisible minority,” she wrote in a guest column for The New York Times in 2012. “It feels like we’ve gone backward. The cultural dismissal of women is so ingrained that the public, including women, doesn’t seem to perceive a problem.”

Ten years later, those words still ring true. Of the 250 top-grossing films in 2021, only 17% were directed by women, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television at San Diego University. That same report found that the percentage of women directors is on the decline. In 2021, women directed only 12% of the top 100 films, down from 16% in 2020.

This makes CASCADIA’s mission all the more critical, according to Executive Director Cheryl Crooks.

“CASCADIA remains one of only a handful of festivals in the U.S. dedicated to exclusively showing films directed by women,” Crooks said. “In our 2021 festival, more than half of our films were directed by women of color.”

Since the festival began in 2017, CASCADIA has showcased the work of more than 125 women directors from around the world.

ABOUT CASCADIA: CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and showcasing the work of women filmmakers, was formed in Bellingham, Washington, in 2015. The organization also works year-round to provide film production, exhibition, and distribution education. More information about CASCADIA may be found on their website at

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