For the first time in its 15 years, Michigan’s popular Waterfront Film Festival, June 13-16 will be held in a place other than the popular Saugatuck resort town where it originated. Holding it in the larger city of South Haven will put the destination a half hour closer to Chicago and Kalamazoo fans.
One of the benefits of the location change is the greater size and capacity of South Haven’s six screening venues — including the three-screen Michigan Theatre, two auditoriums and a high school — that will better accommodate the festival’s optimistic anticipation of 20,000 visitors over the festival’s four days.
Saugatuck events were held in a boat shed and high school, areas not designed for film projection. It’s great not having to fold out 700 chairs for a show and then put them away after,” says WFF’s media rep, Patrick Revere.
Seventy films, selected from 600 submissions from throughout the US, will screen – many premieres, including films from the Midwest, and award-winning films; 45 of them features and the others a mix of docs and shorts.
“As always, our programmers strive to offer something for everybody,” says Hopwood DePree, a film producer himself, who cofounded the festival with his sisters, and Dori DePree, operations manager of TicTock Studios, their Holland, Mich.-based production company, and Dana DePree Minters.
WFF kicks off Thursday night at 6 p.m. with a party and concert, with jazz pianist Andy Daily and singer voice actress E.G. Dailey, followed by a movie at dusk.
Among the selections screening are the Midwest premiere of two top Sundance winners, “A River Changes Course,” and “Blood Brothers;” two comedies, “Syrup,” set in the advertising world and “Between Us;” “V/H/S2,” a sequel to the indie breakout from Sundance and Steve James’ “The Interrupters.”
The festival also draws from draws dozens of celebrities, agents, studio representatives, directors and writers from all over who will talk about their projects and answer questions about the industry.
They include Jay Froberg, whose ROAR talent management company represents stars like Chris Hemsworth (“The Avengers”), Liam Hemsworth (“The Hunger Games”) and Grammy winning Zac Brown Band; casting director/casting associate Farrah West (“Lost,” Evil Dead”); actor Tyler Mane (King Ajax in “Troy”) whose “Compound Fracture” will screen; Ameena Matthews, the professional violence interrupter of “The Interrupters,” and a number of others – and surprise guests.
Hopwood DePree recently formed a strategic partnership with Chicago’s Jack O’Donnell, president of Luminair Productions, to produce entertainment projects in the Midwest.