Audiences will be able to get a taste of Nebraska filmmaking at an annual festival this weekend.
The seventh annual Prairie Lights Film Festival will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at the Grand Theatre with a screening of Ryan Olsen’s short film, “Say Goodbye, Grace.” Doors open at 6 p.m. and opening remarks begin at 6:45.
The film festival runs through the weekend, with screenings from 10 a.m. to 10:20 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
Weekend passes are $10 and single-day passes are $5. They can be purchased online at www.prairielightsfilmfest.com/tickets or at the door.
“That $10 gets you in for the weekend, you get a cool lanyard, you get a free popcorn and a free drink,” said Mark Popejoy, master of ceremonies. “If you go to the movie theater on a Saturday night, you are not going to be able to see a movie without spending $15 to $20. This is for a whole weekend.”
Popejoy said the film festival features 41 total films, all of which were written and/or directed by Nebraska filmmakers. The film festival features a variety of filmmakers with films from a variety of different genres to be shown.
“We try to cater to everybody. We do not want to be a one-genre festival,” Popejoy said. “We usually do an all-horror film festival because a lot of the films that show at the festival are horror. But we have a lot of other stuff, too, from documentaries to other films. It is not just a one-genre thing.”
Prairie Lights Film Festival historically has had a spotlight or anthology film series. Popejoy said this will continue this year. On Friday and Saturday night, there will be horror or suspense-based films shown.
“We have other blocks where there are more adult-based films,” he said. “So some of the content may not be suitable for younger audiences, whether it be language or nudity. We try to make sure people know this and are aware of it.”
Despite there being some adult-based films, Popejoy said the film festival tries “to show films that cater to everybody.” One film that will screen at the festival, “Take One,” was written and directed by 15-year-old Kaylie Waite and features a young cast. The 15-minute short film will have its world premiere at the festival at 8:15 p.m. Friday.
“She started writing her film at the age of 11,” Popejoy said. “Now, she has had more tenured filmmakers who have helped her make her film. I and a couple other folks helped make her dream come true and bring it to life. Her main cast is all kids. There are a couple adults and a couple things in there, but it is meant to be a ‘Goosebumps’-type film.”
For veteran filmmakers, Popejoy said the Prairie Lights Film Festival is something they attend and look forward to every year.
“I think some of the filmmakers have a grasp on the Prairie Lights Film Festival and know that if they get their film done and submitted in time, we are going to air it,” he said. “We don’t charge an entrance fee for the submitted films. A lot of film festivals will have a submission fee for their film and it may or may not get seen. At the Prairie Lights Film Festival, for those returning filmmakers, they know that their film is going to show.”
Popejoy added, “It is a cool experience to see your finished product on the big screen. There is something about that that sparks the creative juices.”