The Anchorage Film Festival is back starting this weekend with an in-person program after a three-year absence.
Many other film festivals have folded or struggled to stay afloat due to the pandemic and economic conditions. AFF program director Ida Theresa Myklebost said the Anchorage festival is no different and has dialed back significantly in its first full program since 2019. But there is an upside to that circumstance.
“This year, we have scaled back the program so there’s fewer films, that means even higher quality,” she said. “We’ve had such a hard time this year, getting rid of the films we usually would be like ‘Yeah, this is a great film.’ This year, it has to be fantastic or it’s not in.”
The festival runs from Dec. 2-11 with screenings scheduled at three theaters around Anchorage. Festival staple Bear Tooth Theatrepub will host some films along with the Anchorage Museum and the E Street Theater.
The festival has 74 films total, including a “Made in Alaska” narrative feature, a “Made in Alaska” documentary feature and three program blocks of “Made in Alaska” shorts, both narrative and documentary.
“We are dependent on the local community not just to like the festival and support us on social media, but to actually get the tickets and put butts in the seats basically,” Myklebost said. “So we’re very excited about it. We are hopeful.”
Passes for the entire festival are $100 with individual session passes available as well.
Here are six of the festival’s most highly anticipated films plus details on showings of the “Made in Alaska” short films:
The Last Birds of Passage: Feature length narrative, directed by Iffet Eren Danisman Boz; showing 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Bear Tooth Theatrepub; running time 99 minutes; Tickets $12
“Everybody fell in love with the elderly woman who’s the main character,” Myklebost said. “She is a kick-ass woman living in the mountains of Turkey, trying to hold on to traditional life in face of modernization.”
Bad Bones: Feature length narrative, directed by Scott Eggleston; showing 9 p.m. Dec. 8 at Anchorage Museum; running time 83 minutes; Tickets $12
A horror offering from local director Scott Eggleston that explores a paranormal author and his dying wife as they move into a house they hope will help heal her.
“It’s a very unusual film as it is feature narrative made in Alaska film,” Myklebost said. “We get a lot of documentaries that are locally made, but we very rarely get future narrative films and especially feature narratives that are such high quality.”
Bering, Family Reunion: Feature length documentary, directed by Lourdes Grobet; showing 6 p.m. Dec 4 at Anchorage Museum; running time 98 minutes; Tickets $12
This documentary from famed Mexican filmmaker Lourdes Grobet follows an Inupiaq woman who crosses the Bering Strait looking for the relatives she got separated from during the Cold War.
“This is a great filmmaker from Mexico who have come up to Alaska and spent a considerable amount of time here, following this story of a reunion between these communities,” Myklebost said.
You Resemble Me: Feature length narrative, directed by Dina Amer; showing 8 p.m. Dec. 3 at Anchorage Museum; running time 90 minutes; Tickets $12
The story follows two Moroccan two sisters on the outskirts of Paris who are separated and when one struggles to find her identity, she turns to radicalism.
“It’s a really human way to look at a very big challenge in today’s society,” Myklebost said. “Why do people become terrorists? How can people make that awful choice?
The Wind & The Reckoning: Feature length narrative, directed by David L. Cunningham; showing 5 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Anchorage Museum; running time 89 minutes; Tickets $12
The film follows the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 and the banishment of many Native Hawaiians to a leper colony.
“It’s hard to sit through it is so strong, so powerful, so well made,” Myklebost said. “It just punches you in the heart. And in this film, we’re getting a delegation of six Hawaiians are flying up to Alaska to represent the film.”
Quantum Cowboys: Full length animated feature, direced by Geoff Marslett; showing 9 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Anchorage Museum; running time 99 minutes; Tickets $12
Two drifters help a woman recover her land and trek across 19th century Southern Arizona to find an elusive frontier musician.
“This film blew our socks off,” Myklebost said. “The artistry in this film. You’re sitting through all these different types of techniques of drawing. It’s just fabulous.”
Other Alaska short film selections
Shorts: Made in Alaska 1: “Kakiñiit,” “Sabor Ártico: Latinos En Alaska (Arctic Flavor: Latinos in Alaska),” “Safe Enough”
Showing 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at Anchorage Museum; running time 87 minutes; Tickets $12
Shorts: Made in Alaska 2: “Above Water,” “NT3,″ “Salmon Reflection,” “Sheri,” “The River Where Time Was Born”
Showing 10 a.m. Dec. 4 at Anchorage Museum; running time 68 minutes; Tickets $12
Shorts: Made in Alaska 3: “A Dreamer’s Search,” “Summer with Maria,” “The Purpose of Song,” “Walrus Hunt Spring 2021″
Showing noon Dec. 10 at Bear Tooth Theatrepub; running time 73 minutes; Tickets $12