Thunder Bay International Film Festival celebrates 10 years | News, Sports, Jobs


Courtesy photos This photo of sand tiger sharks taken by Elena Pent illustrates one of the TBIFF films, entitled “50 Shades of Sharks”, by Didier Noirot.

ALPENA – This could be better than Shark Week.

The 10th Thunder Bay International Film Festival lasts nearly two weeks and features nearly 100 films, including some about sharks.

Find value in the virtual

Since TBIFF is once again entirely virtual this year, you can enjoy the entire festival from the comfort and comfort of your home.

The festival, from January 26 to February 6, is virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as was the case last year. Organizers had hoped to be in person this year, but the federally owned Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center has remained closed throughout the pandemic. The film festival is normally held at the GLMHC.

This photo of a piping plover chick, taken by Gordon Garcia, is from one of the TBIFF films, titled “Monty and Rose II”, by Bob Dolgan of Chicago.

The organizers are always happy to offer the festival in a virtual format and remind the public that many films are free. Purchasing an All Access Thunder Pass for $100 gives you access to all sea-related movies, including a wide range of ocean and Great Lakes films.

“A lot of film festivals, even Sundance, have gone virtual,” film festival coordinator Stephanie Gandulla said in an interview Thursday. “In the interest of security, we have gone virtual again.”

She added that the virtual format casts a wider net, allowing people to connect around the world.

“Last year we were very pleased with the success we had and how we were able to reach a whole new audience that we never would have reached if we weren’t virtual,” Gandulla said. “It was such a hit, the virtual, that we have decided that in the future, even when we return in person, we will still have a virtual component of the film festival.”

Every ticket purchase helps fund the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, including GLMHF programming, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A turtle heads for the sun in this photo by Naman Govil from the film ‘Guardians of Turtles,’ one of nearly 100 TBIFF films.

The TBIFF brings together a spectacular collection of independent films focused on the ocean and the Great Lakes. The film festival is organized by NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in partnership with the International Ocean Film Festival (San Francisco) and supported locally by the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

“With an extensive collection of acclaimed independent ocean and Great Lakes films from the past year, the festival has options for all ages and interests, from adventure and science to marine life. and coastal cultures,” explained a press release.

“These are new movies,” Gandulla explained. “These aren’t movies you saw last year, these aren’t movies you saw five years ago when we were in person.”

She added that it’s something to do with the family and discover places you’ve never been or maybe never even heard of.

forty one free movies

As part of the TBIFF, 41 free films will be offered, presented by NOAA, including 18 “Earth is Blue” shorts, nine “Stories from the Blue” and 14 “Stories from Thunder Bay”.

“It’s all free stuff,” Gandulla said. “All Great Lakes is free content.”

Nick Zachar, filmmaker for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, is thrilled to be a part of this year’s TBIFF.

Zachar, who is also a NOAA diver, spoke about the “Earth is Blue” campaign.

“It’s an ocean planet, and so the National Marine Sanctuary System protects some of the most iconic underwater places in the United States, including Thunder Bay,” Zachar said. “We started this campaign in the hope that the images and videos would inspire people to protect our blue planet.”

“Monty and Rose II”

“This year we even have a little romance starring ‘Monty and Rose II,’ a film about a pair of endangered Great Lakes shorebirds who have become an international sensation,” Gandulla said in the communicated.

In “Monty and Rose II,” conservationist and filmmaker Bob Dolgan documents Chicago’s beloved piping plovers from their hatching in 2017 to their courtship, nesting and raising chicks over three summers. As one of 70 breeding pairs from the Great Lakes region, their inspiring story is just one of many inspiring films featured in the 2022 TBIFF schedule.

“Birds have always been a big part of who I am,” said Dolgan, who has been birdwatching since she was 8 years old.

“Monty and Rose II: The World of Monty and Rose” is a sequel to Dolgan’s short film “Monty and Rose”. He filmed the two on Chicago’s busy Montrose Beach, hence the name of the male and female piping plovers, which mate for life.

He tells a story about his sightings of birds, nesting and wandering on Chicago’s busiest beach.

“I regularly spent time … at the beach, either filming or just observing or helping to volunteer and protect the birds, and it was just an amazing thing to do,” Dolgan said. “It felt like film could be a perfect way to capture that.”

He said the Great Lakes piping plover population is federally endangered.

“Red Tails of Lake Huron” by Lusardi

Nick Lusardi’s name may sound familiar. This is because it has won many awards in the student film competition over the past few years.

The 16-year-old Alpena High School junior is branching out into regular TBIFF film programming this year, with his “Lake Huron Red Tails,” about the recovery of Lake Huron planes flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, which trained in Michigan. .

“One of those pilots was Frank Moody, and in 1944 he crashed a P-39 Airacobra in Lake Huron,” Lusardi said. “A few years ago they discovered his plane, and my father, Wayne Lusardi, an archaeologist, began work…to document and ultimately recover the wreckage of the plane.”

Lusardi is grateful to everyone who participated in the project, which he filmed and edited into a 9-minute short, focusing on a specific section of the project that took place in 2021.

Moody’s nephew, Eric Bryant, came over in 2021 to help with the project.

“What the movie is based on is his experience, coming back and getting that closure,” Lusardi said.

Q&A sessions

In addition to the unique collection of shorts and features, many of which are only available through the festival’s online portal, moviegoers can also take part in live Q&A sessions with filmmakers, scientists and stewards of the oceans and the Great Lakes.

TBNMS Superintendent Jeff Gray said in the press release that this year’s selection of films will inspire you to pull out your calendar and plan your dive into our nation’s breathtaking marine sanctuaries.

“The key to hosting the film festival every year is to encourage the community to learn about the important issues and challenges facing our blue planet, but also to inspire everyone to enter your sanctuary, explore , to play and take care of these precious resources,” said Gray.

50 years

“Adopting the theme, ‘Save Spectacular,’ for the 50th anniversary of the national shrine system, when you watch any of NOAA’s ‘Stories from the Blue’ films as part of the festival program, you’ll understand why this theme is perfect.” Gray said. “The jaw-dropping cinematography, research and conservation work underway to save our coral reefs, our marine mammals, our coastal habitats across the country – and right here in Thunder Bay, our fresh waters, our habitats and our maritime history – are nothing short of spectacular. .”

Student competition

A popular component of the film festival is the Student Short Film Competition in partnership with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. The theme for 2022 is “Science in the Sanctuary…” and offers many fresh insights from our youngest budding filmmakers.

The student films will be available online for the public from January 29, with an announcement of the top three winners. All submissions are evaluated by professional filmmakers and Great Lakes conservationists. As part of the student competition, cash prizes are awarded to the 1st ($300), 2nd ($200) and 3rd ($100) winners with the sponsorship of Friends of TBNMS. The deadline for submission was January 4. Visit to learn more about the student competition.

For more details and tickets, visit If you have any questions, email [email protected] or call 989-884-6212.

Individual feature films are $10 each and short and themed packages are $12 each.

“It’s literally like ordering a movie from Netflix,” noted Gandulla.

Once you unlock a movie, you have until 11:59 p.m. on February 6 to finish watching it, as many times as you want.

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