McMorran Place Theatre in Port Huron housed the fifth annual Blue Water Film Festival Friday Sept. 27 and Saturday Sept. 28.
To jump start the festival, Friday night featured stand-up comedy from comedian Chris Newberg, a Californian resident who was born in Birmingham, Michigan. Newberg has been featured on Comedy Central and NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
Saturday hosted all of the films featured at the BWFF. For $20 attendees were able to view the 20 films that began at 10:00 a.m. and went until 11:30 p.m.
Separated into five blocks, the duration of films ranged anywhere from four minutes to an entire hour. The festival featured a variety of genres with dramas, documentaries, comedies, and even finished with a film for mature audiences to wrap up the event.
The BWFF award ceremony was from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday Sept. 28 at the theater after the fourth block of films were shown. During this time the Golden Mitten is awarded and awards for best in direction, cinematography, screenplay, soundtrack, acting (male), acting (female), and film favorite were announced and awarded.
The 2013 winner of the BWFF’s Golden Mitten Award is Oscar, Emmy, and Tony award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn is a Michigan native and has starred in several films including “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1974) and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” (2004).
Burstyn stated that she was thrilled to be accepting the award. She spoke about her career and offered advice. “Don’t wait for someone to give you your first break,” Burstyn told the audience, which included multiple filmmakers and actors featured at the BWFF.
Kristian Choate, a psychology major at Macomb Community College, came to the BWFF to see Ellen Burstyn.
“We were curious about the films and we wanted to meet Ellen,” said Choate, “I’ve been a fan since I saw her act in ‘Requiem for a Dream’,” a dramatic film Burstyn costarred in 2000.
The idea of starting a film festival in the blue water area began in February of 2009.
“Me and a group of friends over a napkin came up with the concept,” said BWFF Executive Director Jeremy Stemen.
“We wanted to bring business to the blue water area and also a chance to put locals to work,” said Stemen. “St. Clair County was in the middle of what then was the highest unemployment rate. We wanted to make a great impact on the community.”
During the festival, a question and answer period is held after each block of film showings. Festival attendees can ask questions to filmmakers and some of the actors.
To be submitted to the festival, the films must meet one of two qualifications.
The film must either have been filmed in Michigan or in the province of Ontario, Canada or the individual submitting the film must have a permanent residence in the specified area and must have participated in its production.
For more information on the festival or how to support visit bluewaterfilmfestival.com