Photo by Kari Maples

The 2009 Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival kicks off this Thursday, October 1st in downtown Bay City. Three venues will host the variety of feature and short films chosen for this year's festival: The State Theater (913 Washington Ave.), the Delta College Planetarium (100 Center Ave.), and the Masonic Temple Red Room (Madison Ave. at Sixth St.).   As in the past, films show in one venue on one day will be shown in another venue on another of the 4 days the festival lasts.

Film selection committee member and English instructor at Delta College, Ryan Wilson explained the selection process: "Films submitted to the festival through the online site Without a Box had to be viewed by at least 7 of the 12 committee members, who had to be in some way knowledgeable about film.Then the committee met for a marathon session and people spoke up for the films they wanted to see chosen."  Eventually the committee reached a consensus on its list. This year's selections include feature-length dramas, comedies, documentaries, as well as such short films as dramas, a mock documentary, and even a music video.

Among the feature films number Timer, starring Emma Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Michelle Borth (Tell My You Love Me), John Patrick Amedori (Gossip Girl), Desmond Harrington (Dexter), and JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist); the horror film lampoon Hysterical Psycho; and the English-subtitled, Spanish language drama Entre Nos. Of local interest for being filmed entirely in Michigan is the murder mystery Fairview St., about a parolee suspected of murder.  

The feature-length documentary films include Beyond the Call, about three men who travel to distressed parts of the world to offer aid, and three others that deal with the creative process. While Official Rejection playfully looks at the filmmaking process, Synthnation delves into the largely hidden world of industrial music, and Deconstructing Dad explores the life and work of electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott.

Thursday night's opening Block Party is scheduled to coincide with Bay City's monthly Gallery Walk during which artworks are on display at area galleries and shops. For more on this event, see the additional article.

Educational Activities

One activity that adds excitement to film festivals is the opportunity to meet filmmakers and learn about filmmaking. On Friday, October 2nd, Kenneth Hughes, director of the short film Donkey Punch, will offer a workshop in the Explorers Hall of the Delta College Planetarium. Free to the public, "How to Get Everything You Need to Make a Film" will take place from 3-5 p.m.

Other educational activities include screenwriting workshops and a panel discussion to be held at the Planetarium. Jeff Vande Zande, who teaches screenwriting at Delta College, will teach a beginning screenwriting workshop at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 3rd. Cost is $40. This workshop will be followed by a panel discussion by guest filmmakers from 1-3 p.m., an event that is free to the public. Finally, at 3:30 p.m. Hollywood screenwriter Matther Waynee will teach an advanced screenwriting workshop. Cost is $40, with additional cost for a screenplay critique. Writers wishing to sign up for the advanced class or manuscript critique should do so before October 3rd to submit a manuscript. Students will receive a $5 discount by presenting a current high school or college I.D. when signing up for a workshop. Please contact Joy Butler at the Bay Arts Council to register: 989.893.0343.

Musical Events

This year sees the addition of musical performances by bands Oh My God and Baby Teeth, both from Chicago, and Champions of Breakfast from Detroit. This all-ages musical show will take place on Saturday, October 3rd at the Masonic Temple. Doors will open at 8 p.m. and the bands will start at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $10.


An all-access pass is on sale in advance for $35, the day of $45. A film pass costs $20 in advance, $30 the day of. Opening night film tickets are $6, with all other single screening tickets costing $5.  Purchase advance tickets at the Bay Arts Council (at the council office next to the State Theater on Washington St.) or online at www.etix.com. Visit www.hhmfest.com for more information.


This event has many sponsors, including Allstate, Charter, Z93, Michigan CardioVascular Institute, Goodrich Quality Theaters, Old City Hall Restaurant, Bay Arts Council, Say Woof! Photography, Voodoo Tattoo, Delta College, Wheelz 104.5, WIOG 102.5, Summit Printing and Graphics, Rotary International, G's Pizzeria, Catholic Federal, Bay Eye Care Center, COPOCO Community Credit Union, Financial Edge Credit Union, WHNN 96, Alro Steel, and FoundMichigan.com.