Get a taste of the Pacific Rim’s culture, minus the plane ticket, at this year’s 23rd annual Pacific Rim Film Festival (PRFF), which offers us a look into the eyes of people from cultures and places much different from California. With free admission and a variety of films and speakers, the Pacific Rim Film Festival is a great opportunity to not only enjoy cinema, but also gain a new perspective on other parts of the world.
During the free, six-day 23rd Pacific Rim Film Festival in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, films and documentaries from the Pacific Rim region will be screened, as well as several live speaker events after the screenings.
Filmmakers from all over the Pacific Rim, as well as local filmmakers, bring their work together to emphasize the importance of diversity to a broad audience while staying true to the film festival’s theme: “When Strangers Meet.”
Films will be screening Oct. 14-19 in Santa Cruz at the Del Mar Theatre and Rio Theatre, and in Watsonville at the Cabrillo College Watsonville Center. All screenings are free, barring the Closing Night Benefit.
Ever since the Pacific Rim Film Festival started at the Del Mar Theatre in 1988, filmmakers have been keeping the theme of cross-cultural awareness alive in Santa Cruz and Watsonville through their films.
The film “Resilience” is a great example of how PRFF weaves the theme of cross-cultural dialogue into its film selections. The film documents the reunion of a Korean mother and her American son after nearly 30 years apart. As we watch them build a relationship, struggling with cultural differences and misunderstandings, the details of the story itself become secondary to the dialogue inspired by the film’s themes.
This year, the PRFF features films from Japan, South Korea, China, New Zealand, the Philippines, New Mexico, India, Australia and the U.S., providing viewers a truly comprehensive look at the Pacific Rim culture.
At the Closing Night Benefit screening, Bay Area filmmakers Brian Lilla and Greg Miller will present their film, “Patagonia Rising.” The film raises awareness and suggests potential solutions to the issue of international water and power shortages. Lilla himself will be attending the screening and holding a Q&A session after the film. This special screening event will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz.
More films from the Bay Area include Eric Thiermann’s documentary, “It Tolls for Thee: Bells and Their Stories,” which explores the use of bells around the world. Thiermann will make an appearance at the screening followed by a musical performance.
The film “Family of the Wa’a” shares the journey of paddlers (including Santa Cruzans Dave Loustalot, David Waynar, Theron Forrester and Matt Muirhead) through the Hawaiian Islands, from the island of Hawai’i to Kure Atoll in a wa’a (canoe).
Since PRFF has become a popular event, it is recommended that viewers arrive to the screenings early.
PRFF has remained a popular and well-known event, as shown by the generous donations received each year from UC Santa Cruz, Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County, Ow Family Properties and other local groups. Their donations have kept the free admission a tradition for 23 years.
By bringing these provocative cultural films to Santa Cruz, PRFF sets a precedent of sharing through the arts. By filling up the theaters for every screening, Santa Cruz will show how much it is appreciated.