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Balto Film Fest


The first Balto Film Fest took the seaside town of Seward by storm over the last weekend in July. Over a hundred participants experienced the best of what the Alaska Film industry had to offer. Movie goers enjoyed twelve hours of Alaskan films made in Alaska by Alaskans for Alaskans screened in a theater where even the fresh popped Sweet Darlings popcorn was free.

Personalized instruction in a hands on, meaningful, relevant manner is the hallmark of the new Balto School, and the success of that methodology was demonstrated as Alaska's Screen Actors Guild representative Ron Holdstrom and award winning Director Daniel Hernandez worked with Friday's film workshop students so they were able to submit a quality film in the Balto 48 Hour Film Challenge on Sunday.

Jonathan Lang of Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain Films took a clean sweep at the Challenge, taking home both Audience Choice and First Place with his short film Resurrection Bay.

"My plan is to take some of the prize money and spend it to record a version of the score," explains Lang. "...then submit it to the Anchorage International Film Festival." Lang's short film stars Anchorage actors Marc Hess and Morgan Mitchell, and was the first time on the big screen for Lowell Point local Buster - who fulfilled the prompt requirement of "dog" being in the film.

"Love is the oldest story in humanity," explains Lang. "Love run afoul is the second oldest. This is a new telling of humanities second oldest story. With crab pots. And stars. And a dog."

Representative Charisse Millett, Representative Chris Tuck and Senator Lesil McGuire awarded the $400 first place award, along with a trophy created by internationally renown master carver Michael Scott of Sterling. The Audience Choice added another $100 into Lang's filmmaking kitty. Siren's Call was the theme of the Balto Film Fest, based on an image of mermaids and a sailor shot by Stephen Blankenship under the creative vision of master effects make up artist Denise Hill. The imagined move poster of a feature film that could be shot in Alaska but hasn't been yet is metaphor for the Balto Film Fest.

"Our intent is to create an industry incubator, where aspiring filmmakers around the state can find a community, resources, and an audience for their work," suggests Balto School Executive Director Kirsten Vesel. "We want to link up a workforce that is spread throughout the state with an industry that will allow them to make a good living regardless of where in Alaska they live."

"John McLay, Kyle Stadler and myself went down to Seward with ...the sheer intent of making a splatter B flick short film," said Kyle Murphy of Som E'p Laceak Media - who wrapped his eleventh film, Greenscreen just days before heading to Seward. "We did, and had the most awesome time doing it...really looking forward to next year already."

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