A promotional poster for the first event in the Winter Film Series. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Film Group)

A promotional poster for the first event in the Winter Film Series. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Film Group)

Movie buffs to debut local film series

This first entry is centered on short films

To “build a vibrant film culture on the Kenai Peninsula,” local filmmakers and movie buffs have organized the Kenai Peninsula Film Group, hosting their first event, a free screening and discussion of several short films, on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Soldotna Public Library.

The event, “Winter Film Series #1,” is the first of at least three screenings and discussions the group will be hosting monthly until at least March.

This first entry is centered on short films, but organizers Larry Opperman and David Rigall said Wednesday they want to pursue other themes in further appearances. They said the Winter Film Series will remain confined to the wintertime because that’s when people will come.

“Not too many people on a June day when it’s 70 degrees are going to want to go sit in the library and watch some film shorts,” Opperman said.

The event starts at 2:30 p.m., with a meet and greet, followed by the screening of up to eight short films. A time for conversation will follow, wrapping up by 5 p.m.

“Watch it and then have a discussion,” Opperman said. “‘What did you see when you watch this movie?’”

Opperman and Rigall said they love to discuss historical context, unique special effects and meaning. They examine film as an art form, beyond just an entertainment medium.

The pair, who host “Movie Classics,” a monthly show on KDLL 91.9 FM, had been kicking around the idea of hosting a small film festival, even as specifically as at the Soldotna Public Library, for some time. They discussed it in November’s “Movie Classics,” with caller James Hornstein.

Opperman said Wednesday that that call into November’s show led to the idea coming to fruition, and the formation of the Kenai Peninsula Film Group.

“We’re talking film, and all of a sudden he tunes in, and it was a happy happenstance that we have a caller that is as interested in the idea as we are,” Opperman said.

Hornstein called in to discuss the Anchorage International Film Festival, held in December, and featuring the debut shortfilm of Kenai Peninsula filmmaker Eric Downs.

Rigall says in the show that he had been considering hosting a small film festival at the Soldotna Library or at Kenai Peninsula College, and Hornstein counters that he’s had a conversation about starting the same idea with Downs.

Opperman, Rigall, Hornstein and Downs met soon after to discuss the idea.

“It began to roll from there,” Opperman said Wednesday.

Only weeks later, the group and the event are a reality.

The eight films that have been selected for screening are “The Astronomer’s Dream,” “Father and Daughter,” “The Gunfighter,” “Negative Space,” “The Crush,” “A Brief Disagreement,” “Wanderers” and “A Dreamer’s Search.”

Rigall described the selection as “a smorgasbord.” Films range from three minutes to 30, for a total of 80 minutes combined. Not even a majority are from America and half are animated. There is a fantasy, a Western, comedies, dramas, science fiction and a historical adventure.

Each of the films, with the exception of “A Dreamer’s Search,” are available for free on YouTube, but Opperman said they’ve splurged on YouTube Premium to ensure there aren’t any ads.

Opperman said that each is largely family friendly, but one of the films includes some language and humor that might be too much for young children and might make a teenager giggle.

Showing a film by a local filmmaker each month is a priority, with Downs’ own “A Dreamer’s Search” set to receive its first local public showing at the first event. Downs explained in December that he cannot widely release it to the public without jeopardizing its film festival run set for later this year.

“This is the very beginning, so come out and take a look.” Opperman said.

If there is any public interest, the Kenai Peninsula Film Group can host a fourth event this season in April, then bring back the Winter Film Series next fall, around October.

A Facebook group has been created for the “Kenai Peninsula Film Group,” and flyers for the event encourage those interested to join. Currently, the group is set to private and its posts cannot be viewed by nonmembers.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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