There are plenty of reasons to go to the lakeshore in June, but every year around this time Saugatuck provides us with one more: the Waterfront Film Festival. Since 1999, this four-day event has brought filmmakers, actors, writers and movie fans to the resort town for screenings, Q & A sessions, panel discussions and parties.
Pretty impressive for a town that doesn’t have a single regularly operating movie theater in it.
This year’s Waterfront kicks off Thursday evening in downtown Saugatuck with an outdoor party featuring a concert by Secondhand Serenade and a showing of the most recent crop of Oscar-nominated animated shorts (including the winner, “Logorama”). On Friday, the festival really gets rolling with “The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls,” which won the People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival. Director Leanne Pooley’s film chronicles the wild lives of Jools and Linda Topp, lesbian singer/yodeler/ comedians who have become beloved stars in their homeland of New Zealand (9 a.m. at the Saugatuck Yacht Services theater, 868 Holland St.).
Other Friday films include the Australian romantic drama “The Tender Hook” (11:30 a,m. at Saugatuck Yacht Services), with Rose Byrne (“Get Him to the Greek”) and Hugo Weaving (the “Matrix” series) as figures in the shadowy crime world of the Jazz Age, and the 1980s teen-scene drama “Skateland” (4:30 p.m. at Saugatuck Yacht Services), featuring Ashley Greene (“Twilight”).
Also on the Friday slate: the dark modern fairy-tale/thriller “Jordan” (2 p.m. at Saugatuck Center for the Arts); the Brazilian documentary “Secrets of the Tribe” (2 p.m. at Saugatuck High School Auditorium); and writer/director Dan Poole’s science-fiction shocker “The Photon Effect” (9 p.m. at Saugatuck Center for the Arts).
A couple of Michigan-made features will be showcased, too. “Tug,” a romantic comedy starring Sam Huntington and Haylie Duff that was filmed in the Holland/Saugatuck area, gets its Midwest premiere at 7 p.m. Friday at Saugatuck Yacht Services. The college comedy “Cherry,” which was filmed in and around Kalamazoo two years ago, will be shown at 9 p.m. Saturday at Saugatuck Yacht Services.
Saturday brings “The Extra Man,” a romantic comedy about a professional escort starring Kevin Kline, Katie Holmes Paul Dano and John C. Reilly from “American Splendor” directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (4:30 p.m. at Saugatuck Yacht Services). The girls’ school drama “Tanner Hall,” with Brie Larson, Rooney Mara and Georgia King, unspools at 7 p.m. Saturday at Saugatuck Center for the Arts. And the Dustin Lance Black-narrated documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition,” which details the Mormon church’s involvement in the anti-same-sex marriage push in California, will show at 10 p.m. Saturday at The Dunes Resort, 333 Blue Star Highway.
Many of the films have encore screenings on Sunday.
Individual screenings are $10; day passes are $70 for Friday and Sunday and $75 for Saturday. For the complete list and schedule, including ticketing information, visit www.waterfrontfilm.org or call (269) 857- 8351.
For reviews see Cole Smithey’s Movie Week click here.